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French phrase of the Day: Épisode cévenol

This might be a good one to throw into conversation as the summer ends.

French phrase of the Day: Épisode cévenol
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know épisode cévenol?

Because if you’re into poetry, gardening or just planning on stepping outside the house in Autumn, you might want to know that the seasons are changing for the worst.

What does it mean?

These episodes are violent storms that mainly occur in central and southern France in the autumn – they happen when the warm and humid air from the Mediterranean heads north, meeting the cold air present at high altitude in the mountain barrier of Cévennes.

They usually involve thunderstorms and very heavy rain – usually lasting 24 to 72 hours, but in some rare cases can stay for 4 days.

These storms are usual in the autumn as the temperature changes, but because of the extremely hot summer temperatures measured in the Mediterranean sea, scientists expect more violent épisodes cévenols to happen this year, and possibly in the years to come.

The hottest the sea, the more violent the storms will be.

Use it like this

Les épisodes cévenols seront plus fréquents cette année. – the autumn storms will be more frequent this year.

Le réchauffement climatique pourrait rendre les épisodes cévenols plus fréquents. – Climate change could make these type of storms more frequent. 

Je redoute les épisodes cévenols de cette année dans notre maison secondaire du sud de la France. – I dread the storms this year in our second home in the south of France.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Le Fisc

You probably don't want to get on the bad side of the Fisc.

French Expression of the Day: Le Fisc

Why do I need to know le Fisc?

Because you might have heard it mentioned in slightly ominous tones.

What does it mean?

Le Fisc – pronounced luh fisk – is a term used to reference the French institution in charge of levying taxes. It’s a shorter, more casual version of the phrase l’administration fiscale (the fiscal administration).  Often, it refers specifically to the“Direction générale des Finances publiques which is the French public finances administration.

Though it may look like a shortened version of the feminine noun ‘fiscalité’ (which refers to the set of laws related to the tax collection system in France), le Fisc is a masculine noun with a different definition that refers specifically to the government body doing the tax collecting.

The closest English synonyms to this expression might be ‘the taxman’ or ‘tax authorities.’  

The term le Fisc comes from the Latin word “Fiscus” which means “basket” and by extension went on to be used interchangeably for ‘treasure’ as well. 

In ancient Rome, the name for the public treasury was ‘fiscus,’ which is the root of the French terms le Fisc and fiscalité.  

Often, you’ll see this word used in newspapers or by politicians when referencing matters related to the national budget and taxation.

Use it like this

Le Fisc va récupérer €10 millions de plus cette année dans les piscines non déclarées. – The taxman will recover more than €10 million in taxes this year due to undeclared swimming pools. 

Le Fisc a pris connaissance du fait que l’acteur omettait de déclarer une partie importante de ses revenus en France. Il sera probablement condamné à une amende. – The tax authorities have become aware of how the actor was failing to declare significant portions of his income in France. He will likely be fined.