Five Ways French People Describe Rain

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It doesn’t rain in Nantes—or rather, few locals just say “il pleut” when they see water falling from the sky. Indeed, this weather phenomenon is so common in Brittany and around that we have many ways to describe it.

So if you want to talk like a local, you could say…

“Il bruine”

“Bruine” is misty rain. In Nantes, it’s barely noticed and this kind of weather certainly doesn’t require an umbrella. However, it’s worth remembering that light rain falling in very fine drops is still rain—i.e. water—and that you do get wet after a while.

“Il flotte”

“Flotte” is slang for water—and thus, for rain. This expression is used for both light rain and heavy rain, however, it does imply a certain degree of surprise. It’s often preceded by the word “merde!.”

“Il pleut à verse” (variant “Il tombe des cordes” or “Il pleut à seaux .’)

In the first expression, rain is so strong that it looks like water pours (“versée”) from the sky—exactly like “it’s pouring rain” in English. In the second expression, “it’s coming down like ropes,” and the third one refers to “buckets” of water. In all cases, “putain!” or “merde!” is often inserted somewhere into the sentence.

“Ça mouille”

“It makes everything wet” you may hear in Nantes when it rains. This expression doesn’t mean locals just discovered the concept of wetness and accurately described an experience with water, it’s just a way to say that it rains enough to get you wet.

“On va se faire saucer”

When you know it’s about to pour and there’s no shelter around, you can say, “we’re going get sopped up.” Then, once the feeling of impending doom acknowledged, just shrug and keep on walking—we all do.

Crossing the Erdre River on a stormy day

Crossing the Erdre River on a stormy day

Crossing the Erdre River on a stormy day

The Loire River and the Île de Nantes on a stormy Sunday

Île de Nantes and Titan crane between two showers

Grey Titan crane on the Île de Nantes

Grey Titan crane on the Île de Nantes

Île de Nantes on a rainy day

Île de Nantes on a rainy day

Île de Nantes on a rainy day

Île de Nantes on a rainy day

Île de Nantes on a rainy day

… and the sun is back

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French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

6 Comments

  1. Your description for “Ça mouille” was funny!

    I love that the verb ‘saucer’ exists in French.

    I hadn’t heard of those expressions besides the ones with “bruine” and “cordes.” I have a colleague who is from Paris, and when it rains, she says, “Il pleut, il mouille, c’est la fête à la grenouille.”

    • Oh, yes, that’s a kid thing… “il pleut, il mouille, c’est la fête à la grenouille” is the kind of thing you sing-song on your way back to school 😉

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