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‘Un soleil de plomb’: Our French expression of the week

As France’s third heatwave of the year gets underway, we look at a phrase used to describe the hot weather

We look at a French expression used to describe a very hot day Pic: Paul Orr / Shutterstock

The southern half of France is set to experience its third heatwave of the year this week, after a first in June and a second in July. 

Temperatures are expected to sit around 35-38C in the southeastern areas of the country, with some places seeing highs of 39-40C. 

The northern half of the country will experience 30C heat, with only Brittany and the area around the Channel seeing temperatures below this threshold. 

Read more: Five French departments on heatwave alert as high temperatures return

If the sun’s heat grows to feel oppressive during the day, it could be described as a ‘soleil de plomb’ (literally: a lead sun). 

This phrase is used to describe a heat which is so intense it seems to weigh down on you and make you feel tired. 

It is as if there is a lead weight in the air. 

This expression has been used since 1835 with reference to the sun, and since 1842 with reference to the heat. 

Related articles 

Avoir eu chaud and more French phrases with the word ‘hot’

7 French expressions to use when the weather is bad

7 French expressions to use when it's hot weather

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