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French phrase of the day: Giboulées de mars

This French expression explains why the weather has been acting so shifty lately.

French phrase of the day: Giboulées de mars
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know giboulées de mars?

Because it’s timely.

What does it mean?

You know those brief rain bursts that often come totally unexpectedly, sometimes accompanied by hail and strong wind? In French, they are called giboulées.

It’s not the same as an averse, which is the French term for ‘downpour’ of rain or snow. 

Une giboulée is a particular meteorological phenomenon that mostly occurs in spring, often March, which is why they are called giboulées de mars. 

It manifests itself through sudden and rather unpleasant weather changes, sometimes even making it snow mid spring, before going back to sunny weather.

The phenomenon is far from France-specific, and in English they are sometimes referred to as ‘April showers’.

Use it like this

Ramène quand même ton parapluie. On ne sait jamais avec les giboulées de mars. – Bring your umbrella just in case. You never know with these March showers.

Les giboulées de mars sont de retour.. je n’aime vraiment pas ce temps instable.The March showers are back .. I really don’t like this unreliable weather.

C’est dingue ce temps ! Tu as vu comment il grêle ? / Oui, c’est tout à fait normal, ça s’appelle les giboulées de mars. – This weather is crazy! Have you seen the hail? / Yes, it’s quite normal, it’s called the March showers.

Member comments

  1. Strictly speaking une averse is a shower, a downpour is une pluie torrentielle or un déluge

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.