Understand Fast Spoken French: French News Summer 2022 Highlights


Today, let’s practice understanding everyday French together by exploring some of the top news stories from France this summer 2022.

Not only will you learn more about French current events, but you’ll also learn some common vocabulary and expressions that you will find in the French news.

C’est parti.

1) News in French: La canicule

The news this summer was of course dominated by the international events of la guerre en Ukraine (= war in Ukraine.) But today, we’ll stick to national news in France.

Such as la canicule / la vague de chaleur (= heat wave) all over the country.

Overall, it’s been a very hot summer here, with temperature often above trente-cinq degrés (35°C) (= 100°F) in a country that’s not very adapted to this type of heat. Homes are often made to keep the heat in, and we have very little AC.

Here’s a clip from le journal télévisé (JT) (= the TV news broadcast) from the public channel France 2 in June. Can you follow what they’re saying? You’ll find the full subtitles below if you need.

Click here to watch: “Une canicule exceptionnelle ? – 14 June 2022”

Subtitles :

– Cette canicule, au mois de juin, est-elle exceptionnelle ?
Is this heat wave in June exceptional?

– Oui, on peut le dire, parce qu’elle est précoce et intense.
Yes, we can say so, because it is early and intense.

Regardez, voici pour les deux prochains jours, les zones dans lequel [sic] il est le plus probable de battre des records de température pour une mi-juin.
Look, here are for the next two days, the areas where temperature records are most likely to be broken for mid-June.

Plus c’est rouge, plus le risque est élevé et regardez vendredi, eh bien la France sera bien cramoisie. C’est rare de voir cette carte à cette période de l’année.
The redder it is, the higher the risk and look, for Friday, well France is really crimson. It’s rare to see such a map at this time of year.

– Est-ce que ce type de vague de chaleur est de plus en plus fréquent ?
Is this type of heat wave becoming more frequent?

– Oui, on peut le dire, parce que depuis 1947, il y a eu quarante-trois vagues de chaleur en France. Elle sont toutes représentées ici sous forme de bulles, dans l’ordre chronologique.Yes, we can say so, because since 1947, there’s been 43 heat waves in France. They’re all depicted here as bubbles, in chronological order.

Plus on va vers le haut, plus il fait chaud. Plus les bulles sont grandes, plus la chaleur va durer.
The higher you go, the hotter it is. The bigger the bubbles, the longer the heat wave is lasting.

Alors maintenant on va distinguer les vagues de chaleur de ces quinze dernières années. À droite, en rouge, eh bien tenez-vous bien, il y en a eu autant que les quarante-cinq années précédentes qui sont à gauche, en vert !
So now, let’s split off the heat waves from the last 15 years. On the right side, in red, wait for it, there were as many as in the 45 previous years on the left, in green!

Donc les vagues de chaleur sont aujourd’hui trois fois plus fréquentes. Elles sont aussi plus chaudes, elles peuvent démarrer plus tôt dans la saison.
So heat caves are three times more frequent nowadays. They’re also warmer, and they can start earlier in the season.

Il y a un siècle les canicules étaient rares, mais surtout en juillet-août. Aujourd’hui c’est de juin à septembre.
A century ago, heat waves were rare, but mostly confined in July-August. Nowadays, It’s from June to September.

Et si nous ne freinons pas le réchauffement, dans cinquante ans, ce sera également possible de mai à octobre.
And if we don’t slow down global warming, in fifty years, we might also get it from May to October.

Notice some vocabulary:

  • Le réchauffement (climatique) = global warming
  • Le dérèglement climatique = climate change
    What other important or interesting vocabulary can you take out of this short clip and its transcript?

Blog only: More in French if you dare (blog only)

What can you understand from this longer segment from the French channel TF1?
Click here to watch:
Canicule : les quatre coins de la France transpirent [YouTube]

2) News in French: Sécheresse et incendie

The heat wave sadly brought out la sécheresse (= drought) and les incendies (= fires), especially in the forests of Southern France like in the areas of la Gironde or les Landes.

** Le truc en plus **
Les Landes used to be a giant swamp in south-western France, where inhabitants famously relied on stilts to walk around. In the XIXth century, the whole area was drained and planted with rows upon rows of identical pine trees for the industry – creating an endless, striking artificial forest.

*** ***

Here’s an article from the regional newspaper Le Midi Libre.

Click here to read: Incendie en Gironde : “le retour de l’enfer” [Midi Libre]

** Le truc en plus **
Le Midi (= midday) is sometimes used to mean Southern France. It’s an old word for “South” in general, as it’s the direction of the Sun at mid-day.

Here’s the introduction with its translation, that I read out loud in the video lesson:

Les incendies qui ravagent la Gironde sont loin d’être derrière nous.
The fires that are ravaging the Gironde département are far from over.

L’incendie géant de Landiras, en juillet, a donné lieu à de nouveaux départs de feu ce mardi 9 août.
The giant fire near the small town of Landiras, in July, gave rise to new fires this Tuesday, August 9.

Ce mercredi matin, la préfecture fait état de plus de 6 000 hectares brûlés. Une vision de l’enfer.
This Wednesday morning, the prefecture reports more than 6,000 hectares burned. A vision of hell.

C’est d’ailleurs de cette façon que les pompiers de France qualifient la situation en Gironde où l’incendie géant de Landiras en juillet a donné lieu ce mardi à de nouveaux départs de feu, mobilisant de nombreux sapeurs-pompiers et conduisant à de nouvelles évacuations.
This is how the firefighters of France qualify the situation in Gironde where the giant fire of Landiras in July gave rise this Tuesday to new fires, mobilizing many firefighters and leading to new evacuations.

Notice some vocabulary from this introduction:

  • Loin d’être = far from
  • Derrière nous = behind us (= Terminé = over)
  • Donner lieu = leads to, has for consequences
  • D’ailleurs = “from elsewhere” (literally) = By the way
  • C’est d’ailleurs de cette façon = Longer way to say C’est comme ça que (or more formally: C’est ainsi que) = “That’s how.”
  • La préfecture = place of work of le préfet, administrative head of le département, especially for police and public safety. La préfecture can be the office building, or the whole city – the capital of the département.
  • Un pompier = a firefighter.
  • Un sapeur-pompier = the official name for the corps of French firefighters.

Le Midi Libre is a newspaper from la presse quotidienne régionale, regional daily newspapers. French people love their regional newspaper!
You’ll always find interesting news and local stories in titles such as:

3) News in French: Pénurie de moutarde

La pénurie de moutarde (= mustard shortage) had less serious consequences, but was also the talk of the summer here in France. The reasons are roughly explained in this article:

  • droughts and heat waves destroying crops in Canada,
  • the Ukrainian production being halted by the war,
  • the legal switch to more organic production in France (banning some artificial pesticides) ruining the yield of local harvests

Click here to read: Pourquoi y a-t-il des ruptures de moutarde en France ? – Libération

There are three main weekly newspapers in France:

The article above is from the fact-checking team of Libération.

4) News in French: Les marronniers

More essential vocabulary for the French news:

  • Les faits divers = daily incidents, crimes, accidents…
  • Une polémique = a controversy, the current debate
  • Une affaire = a scandal, a case (corruption, etc.) – and not “une aventure,” an extra-marital affair.
  • Un marronnier = “a chestnut tree” (literally), a recurring piece of news – yearly, for instance

Les marronniers can help pad out a slow news day during the holiday months. Some of the most common marronniers are:

  • Le Tour de France, the bicycle race
  • Roland-Garros, the tennis competition
  • Les vacances = holidays
  • La rentrée = going back from holiday to work or study

La rentrée is a noun for the period (and the event) of going back to school. It applies to all sorts of circles, such as:

  • La rentrée scolaire = La rentrée des classes = back to school, the first days of school
  • La rentrée politique = people start paying more attention to what politicians are saying, the government tries to pass laws…
  • La rentrée littéraire = More new books are being released around September, so critics can talk about them when they come back from holiday, before the awards season.

Learn more about understanding French media and keeping up with French news:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Join the conversation!

  • Merci beaucoup Géraldine pour cet vidéos sur les nouvelles français. J’essaie d’écouter les nouvelles françaises chaque jour si possible en ligne (13H ou 20H) et bien sûr, il y a des histoires récurrentes aves les mots que je ne comprends pas. Ta vidéo était très utile. J’espere tu peux faire plus quand c’est pratique

  • Bonjour, Géraldine. Je trouve cette série de vos vidéos la plus utile pour moi. Comme je m’intéresse à la politique en général et à la vie quotidienne de la planète, je souffre beaucoup en déchiffrant les expressions métaphoriques et les différentes combinaisons verbales dans les journaux virtuels. Et vos explications et commentaires sont droit au but. Merci beaucoup.

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