90 magical shades of color in French from olive green to onyx

Learning the colors in French should be one of the top priorities of any learner who wants to level up their language skills.

If you thought learning the colors was something only kids do, you might want to think again. Learning the colors in French will open many doors in every learner’s journey, as being able to describe things in color will allow you to express ideas much more vividly.

Plus, once you’ve mastered the colors in French, you will be able to ask francophones for help identifying objects: qu’est-ce que c’est ce truc jaune là-bas ? (What is that yellow thing over there?).

This can really be a tipping point in your journey to learning French online as you‘ll be able to describe things much more easily.

And, of course, how could you see la vie en rose without knowing the colors? French is a beautifully descriptive language, so adding colors to your sentences will only enhance the romantic magic of French.

Ready to learn the colors? On y va !

Download our free paper chatterbox to help you learn French colors in no time!

Table of contents

Why learn all the color shades in French?

Before we get into all the colors, you should be fully aware of how learning the colors will improve your French. There are dozens and dozens of different colors, so knowing why you should study them will help you stay on course.

Here are our top three reasons for learning to express yourself in color, en français.

Describe objects more precisely

Have you ever been in a situation where you want to point out something whose name you can’t recall? Knowing the colors will help you be significantly more precise, as you can say “that green thing over there” instead of just “that thing over there.”

This will help you learn more vocabulary in your everyday life, as you can now ask your francophone friends to help you identify objects you use or see frequently.

Understand French expressions about colors

The French love their idioms, and many of them involve colors. Although learning about French slang (argot) is something you don’t need to worry too much about yet, knowing the colors will prepare you for when you get to intermediate and advanced levels.

Besides, learning a handful of helpful expressions now will certainly impress francophones. This can give you a nice confidence boost when spending long hours studying French!

Point out pastries more easily

Let’s admit it: we all love French pastries. One of the most universally-loved aspects of French culture is its pâtisseries (pastry shops), which can be found pretty much all over the world.

From éclaires to colorful macarons, French pastries come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Knowing the colors will help you point out specific pastries more easily, allowing you to try a wider variety and perhaps find a new hidden gem!

Colors in French

Okay, now that we’ve convinced you to learn the colors in-depth, let’s get started. First, let’s look at the very basics: how to say color and colors. In French, the singular ‘color’ is couleur and the plural ‘colors’ is couleurs.

Both words are pronounced the same: coo-lore. What changes is the article you use immediately before each one:

English French
The color yellow La couleur jaune
The green colors Les couleurs verts

If you pay attention to article use, you should have no trouble identifying if the color in question is singular or plural.

Now, let’s get into more specific colors. We will break down each major color into different shades, giving you a total of 90 colors in French. We will also provide you with both the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) spelling and an intuitive pronunciation guide for English speakers so you can start using the colors right away.

Allez-y !

Purple in French

Purple is a beautiful color on its own, but how could we ignore all the beautiful shades of purple? After all, France is the country of lavender, so let’s get into all the different variations of purple in French.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Lavender Le lavande lə lavɑ̃d Luh la-vahnde
Purple Le pourpre lə puʁpʁ Luh poor-pre
Violet Le violet lə vjɔlɛ Luh vee-oh-lay
Grape Le raisin lə ʁɛzɛ̃ Luh ray-san
Mauve Le mauve lə mov Luh mauve
Mulberry Le mûre lə myʁ Luh moor
Plum Le prune lə pʁyn Luh prune
Lilac Le lilac lə lilak Luh lee-lac
Indigo L’indigo lɛ̃diɡo Lun-dee-go

Orange in French

It’s hard to think of Southern France and not think of the beautiful orange sunsets of the Côte d’Azur, or a wonderfully-refreshing Orangina beverage.

Besides orange, you will want to know how to say other variations of orange in French to express yourself on a whole new level.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Tangerine L’orange mandarine lɔʁɑ̃ʒ mɑ̃daʁin Lo-rahnsh man-da-rin
Orange L’orange lɔʁɑ̃ʒ Lo-rahnsh
Amber L’ambre lɑ̃bʁ Lahmbre
Bronze Le bronze lə bʁɔ̃z Luh brohnce
Burnt Orange L’orange brûlée lɔʁɑ̃ʒ bʁyle Lo-rahnsh broo-lay
Marmalade L’orange marmelade lɔʁɑ̃ʒ maʁməlad Lo-rahnsh mar-muh-lade
Mango L’orange mangue lɔʁɑ̃ʒ mɑ̃ɡ Lo-rahnsh mahngue
Rust Le rouille lə ʁuj Luh roo-eey
Papaya L’orange papaye lɔʁɑ̃ʒ papaj Lo-rahnsh pah-paye

Blue in French

A recent survey found out that blue is the favorite color of French people. This will come to no surprise to anybody who has been to Paris, as deep blues like navy blue and midnight blue can be seen in signage all over town.

Here are some of the most common variations of blue in French.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Royal Blue Le bleu royal lə blø ʁwajal Luh bluh roo-ah-yal
Blue Le bleu lə blø Luh bluh
Turquoise Le turquoise lə tyʁkwaz Luh toor-koo-ase
Teal Le bleu sarcelle lə blø saʁsɛl Luh bluh sar-sel
Cyan Le cyan lə sjɑ̃ Luh see-ahn
Sky Blue Le bleu ciel lə blø sjɛl Luh bluh see-el
Navy Blue Le bleu marine lə blø maʁin Luh bluh ma-reen
Baby Blue Le bleu bébé lə blø bebe Luh bluh beh-beh
Midnight Blue Le bleu nuit lə blø nɥi Luh bluh noo-ee

Red in French

If French is the language of love, then red is the color of love. Learning the variations of red in French just makes sense, particularly if you’re a hopeless romantic and want to maximize your coquetterie skills.

Here are some variations of the color red in French.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Burgundy Le bourgogne lə buʁɡɔɲ Luh boor-goh-nye
Red Le rouge lə ʁuʒ Luh roosh
Cherry Le cerise lə səʁiz Luh say-reese
Crimson Le cramoisi lə kʁamwazi Luh crah-moo-ah-see
Brick Red Le rouge brique lə ʁuʒ bʁik Luh roosh breek
Blood Red Le rouge sang lə ʁuʒ sɑ̃ Luh roosh sahng
Maroon Le rouge bordeaux lə ʁuʒ bɔʁdo Luh roosh bore-do
Berry Le rouge baie lə ʁuʒ bɛ Luh roosh beh
Scarlet L’écarlate lekaʁlat Lay-car-lat

Yellow in French

Knowing the different variations of yellow in French will help you tremendously, particularly if you’re into fashion or design.

French people love a good pop of color, so knowing how to refer to colors like mustard, lemon, and chartreuse will definitely come in handy.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Lemon Le jaune citron lə ʒon sitʁɔ̃ Luh zhon see-tron
Yellow Le jaune lə ʒon Luh zhon
Cream Le crème lə kʁɛm Luh craym
Canary Le jaune canari lə ʒon kanaʁi Luh zhon cah-nah-ree
Chartreuse Le chartreuse lə ʃaʁtʁøz Luh shar-truce
Gold Le doré lə dɔʁe Luh doh-ray
Light Yellow Le jaune clair lə ʒon klɛʁ Luh zhon kler
Sand Le sable lə sabl Luh sahble
Mustard Le jaune moutarde lə ʒon mutaʁd Luh zhon moo-tard

Brown in French

This is the table for pastry-lovers everywhere. If you’re looking for an almond-colored kouign-amann or a caramel-colored pain au chocolat, then learning the variations of brown in French will certainly pay off.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Caramel Le caramel lə kaʁamɛl Luh kah-ra-mel
Brown Le marron lə maʁɔ̃ Luh ma-roh
Sepia Le sépia lə sepja Luh say-pia
Chestnut Le châtaigne lə ʃatɛɲ Luh sha-tey-nye
Chocolate Le chocolat lə ʃɔkɔla Luh shoh-koh-lah
Almond L’amande lamɑ̃d Lah-mahnde
Cedar Le cèdre lə sɛdʁ Luh say-dre
Coffee Le café lə kafe Luh kah-feh
Walnut Le noyer lə nwaje Luh noo-ah-yeh

Pink in French

Learning the variations of pink in French may be a lot easier than you’d think. In fact, many of the words we use in English to call these colors come from French, so you’ll find that the English and French words for the different hues of pink are quite similar!


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Peach Le pêche lə pɛʃ Luh pesh
Pink Le rose lə ʁoz Luh ross
Coral Le corail lə kɔʁaj Luh koh-ray
Rouge Le rouge lə ʁuʒ Luh roosh
Magenta Le magenta lə maʒɛ̃ta Luh mah-zhen-tah
Salmon Le saumon lə somɔ̃ Luh saw-mon
Blush Le rose pâle lə ʁoz pal Luh ross pal
Hot Pink Le rose vif lə ʁoz vif Luh ross veef
Strawberry Le fraise lə fʁɛz Luh fress

Green in French

Green is one of the most diverse colors out there, with variations ranging from a light and airy mint to a deep and relaxing forest.

Knowing the variations of green in French will be very helpful, especially if you enjoy spending time in nature surrounded by different kinds of plants.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Sage Le vert sauge lə vɛʁ soʒ Luh vehr saush
Green Le vert lə vɛʁ Luh vehr
Jade Le jade lə ʒad Luh zhad
Seafoam L’écume lekym Lay-koom
Lime Le citron vert lə sitʁɔ̃ vɛʁ Luh see-tron ver
Forest Le vert forêt lə vɛʁ fɔʁɛ Luh ver fore-ret
Olive L’olive lɔliv Loh-live
Emerald L’émeraude leməʁod Lehm-eraud
Mint Le vert menthe lə vɛʁ mɑ̃t Luh ver mahnt

Black in French

If you’ve paid attention to Parisian fashion, you might think that everyone wears all-black every day. However, black itself is a very interesting color with a number of shades and tones that can contrast very well.

Here are some of the most popular variations of black in French.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Ebony L’ébène lebɛn Lay-ben
Black Le noir lə nwaʁ Luh noo-are
Cool Black Le noir froid lə nwaʁ fʁwa Luh noo-are froo-ah
Ink L’encre lɑ̃kʁ Lancre
Obsidian L’obsidienne lɔpsidjɛn Lob-see-dee-en
Jet Black Le noir de jais lə nwaʁ də ʒɛ Luh noo-are duh zhay
Charcoal Le noir charbon lə nwaʁ ʃaʁbɔ̃ Luh noo-are shar-boh
Onyx L’onyx lɔniks Loh-nix
Midnight Le noir minuit lə nwaʁ minɥi Luh noo-are mee-noo-ee

White in French

Lastly, we have white. Although plain white can represent emptiness, the truth is that there are some very interesting shades of white.

Colors like pearl, cream, and beige can make us feel calm and relaxed, so you should learn how to say these variations of white in French to replace a plain old white.


English French IPA Spelling Pronunciation
Beige Le beige lə bɛʒ Luh behzh
White Le blanc lə blɑ̃ Luh blahnk
Ivory L’ivoire livwaʁ Lee-voo-are
Eggshell Le blanc coquille d'oeuf lə blɑ̃ kɔkij dɔœf Luh blahnk ko-keey duff
Coconut Le noix de coco la nwa də kɔko Luh noo-ah duh koh-koh
Pearl Le blanc perle lə blɑ̃ pɛʁl Luh blahnk pear-luh
Bone L’os lɔs Los
Alabaster L’albâtre lalbatʁ Lal-bah-truh
Off White Le blanc cassé lə blɑ̃ kase Luh blahnk kah-say

Free downloadable paper chatterbox

This fun paper chatterbox will help you learn French colors in no time! Our aim is to use both visualization and spelling techniques to help you remember the color names. Folding instructions are included on the pdf.

Free downloadable French colors paper chatterbox.

Songs about colors in French

If you’ve studied a foreign language before, you may already be familiar with this trick. Listening to music in your target language can be a great way to learn while you relax, do some chores around the house, or commute to work or school.

All you have to do is let the music play and your brain will do the rest! Bonus points if you can sing along as you will work on your speaking skills in addition to your listening comprehension skills.

These three fantastic songs in French will help you study the colors.

Ilona - Un Monde Parfait

This wonderfully-catchy song narrates how Ilona, the singer, is drawing what she imagines to be the perfect world. In the song, she mentions many colors and corresponding nouns, like “le bleu du ciel” (the blue of the sky), which will help you remember the colors.

As a bonus, this song includes lots of helpful additional vocabulary, like the animals in French. Give it a listen, we promise you won’t be able to get enough!

La Chanson des Couleurs

If you want a more straightforward song, there’s no way you can beat La Chanson des Couleurs. This song is great for learning French for kids and will go down a list of the nine most common colors and give you a sample noun for each of them.

French colors - Couleurs - Arc en ciel by alain le lait

What better way to learn the French colors than with an arc en ciel (rainbow)? This catchy song talks about a man with a wooden head whose eyes are rainbow-colored. As you can imagine, he has a penchant for colors. Listen along to learn what this rainbow-eyed, wooden-headed character gets into.

French colors FAQs

Are colors in French masculine or feminine?

All colors are masculine, for example:

  • Le vert
  • Le blanc
  • Le rouge

However, keep in mind that the word color is actually feminine: la couleur. And, since colors tend to be used as adjectives, they will have to agree with the noun in question.

Check out the table below with some easy examples.

English French
The color red La couleur rouge
The color violet La couleur violette
A blue car Une voiture bleue
A brown house Une maison marron

Notice how violet and blue need to be modified to violette and bleue in the example above. This is because the colors have to match the gender of the noun they are modifying, so you must make them femenine when modifying a feminine noun.

Rouge does not need to change because the masculine version already ends with an -e, so the feminine version is spelled the same.

The only exception to this rule is le marron. This color does not change at all, regardless of the gender of the noun it is modifying. Notice the last example and how marron does not change even when modifying a feminine noun (maison).

Are colors capitalized in French?

Colors are not capitalized in French, unless they come at the very beginning of a sentence or are a part of a proper noun. Unlike English, French capitalizes the first letter of words very sparingly, so err on the side of not capitalizing a color if you’re unsure.

What do the colors of the French flag represent?

There is no official significance behind each color of the French flag, but it is speculated that the blue, white, and red of the French flag represent:

  • Nobility (blue)
  • Clergy (white)
  • Bourgeois (red)

These were the three estates of the assembly back in the 18th century, when the current French flag was adopted.

Fun-filled bonus tips for learning French colors

Use sticky notes

One of the oldest tricks in the game is using sticky notes to label everyday objects at home with sticky notes. While this can be great for beginners, it can also be a great way to learn all the hues of each color in French.

Use sticky notes to label the colors of items in your room, kitchen, living room—you name it! If you have an emerald sofa in your living room, put a sticky note on it with the words “L’émeraude.” If you have a cream-colored vase in the kitchen, label it as “Le crème.” Be as specific as you’d like!

Play French color games

If you’re already familiar with our French blog, you already know that we love a good game. Playing games to learn a language can be a fun way to engage and relate with a foreign language. A game can make the language feel more real as you interact with it beyond a textbook or a formal classroom setting.

Plus, if you’re having fun, you’re much more likely to study for longer hours. It’s all gain, no pain!

Here are some of our favorite games for learning the colors:

  • I Spy. If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, you’ve probably played this game before. One person says “I spy with my little eye…” followed by “something _____” where a color is inserted in the blank. The other players have to guess what that person is looking at. To play this in French, simply use the colors you just learned!
  • Bingo. Everyone loves a good game of bingo. To make it a learning experience, simply create scorecards using the colors. You can make the background of each box match the corresponding color along with its name in French. Every player will have to pay close attention to the colors being called out to not miss out on any points!
  • Play an online French color game. If you are learning French online or don’t have anyone to play with at the moment, you can always turn to a digital game to learn the colors. This DigitalDialects game will show you the name of a color followed by a colorful disc. To earn a point, you have to click on the correct color. It’s a fantastic way to learn!

Use French-labeled coloring crayons

What better way to learn about the colors than by coloring? If you live in a Francophone region, you should be able to easily find crayons with French labels on them. That way, you’ll be reminded of each color every time you grab a crayon.

If you don’t live in a francophone region, you should be able to find French-labeled crayons online. If you can’t find them within your country, try ordering from a francophone country – the magic of the internet!

French expressions that involve colors

French is full of expressions and idioms that won’t make a lot of sense unless you know their contexts. Many of them involve colors, and now that you’re a French color connoisseur, you are ready to start learning some of the expressions below!

Here’s a table with some of the most common French expressions involving colors.

English French IPA spelling Pronunciation
In danger/in the red Dans le rouge dɑ̃ lə ʁuʒ Dah luh roosh
To be extremely sunburnt Être rouge comme une tomate ɛtʁə ʁuʒ kɔm‿ yn tɔmat Ehtr roosh come oon toh-matt
To be blacklisted Être sur la liste rouge ɛtʁə syʁ la listə ʁuʒ Ehtr soor la leest roosh
To be so angry you turn red Être rouge de colère ɛtʁə ʁuʒ də kɔlɛʁ Ehtr roosh duh koh-lair
A sarcastic or forced laugh Un rire jaune ɛ̃ ʁiʁ ʒon Uh rear zhon
To greenlight (something) Donner le feu vert dɔne lə fø vɛʁ Doh-neh luh foh ver
To be green with envy Être vert de la jalousie ɛtʁə vɛʁ də la ʒaluzi Ehtr ver duh la zha-loo-sie
A toll-free number Un numéro vert ɛ̃ nymeʁo vɛʁ Uh noo-meh-roh ver
A mock test Un examen blanc ɛ̃n‿ ɛɡzamɛ̃ blɑ̃ Uh exa-muh blahnk
A sleepless night or an all-nighter Une nuit blanche yn nɥi blɑ̃ʃ Oon noo-e blahnsh
A crime movie Un film noir ɛ̃ film nwaʁ Uh film noo-are
To feel sad Broyer du noir bʁwaje dy nwaʁ Broo-ah-yeh du noo-are
When a place is extremely crowded Être noir de monde ɛtʁə nwaʁ də mɔ̃d Ehtr noo-are duh mond
To work under the table Travail au noir tʁavaj o nwaʁ Tra-vay oh noo-are
To be tipsy Être gris/grise ɛtʁə ɡʁis/ɡʁiz Ehtr gree/grease
At the end of the day, everyone's the same La nuit, tous les chats sont gris la nɥi | tu le ʃa sɔ̃ ɡʁi La noo-e, too leh shah soh gree
A green card marriage Un mariage gris ɛ̃ maʁjaʒ ɡʁi Ugh mar-ee-ash gree
Used to describe something that is overly sentimental or cheesy À l’eau de rose a lo də ʁoz Ah loh duh ross
To see life through rose-colored glasses Voir la vie en rose vwaʁ la vi ɑ̃ ʁoz Voo-are la vee ah ross

Practice makes perfect!

Can you describe this chameleon in the colors in French?

With the right tools and enough practice, you’ll be able to master all the colors in French in no time. Although it may seem daunting at first, we promise that learning all the colors in French isn’t chasing rainbows!

If you would like some more help with your French, we offer a wide range of French classes so check them out if you’re feeling extra keen.

You can also check out our French blog for more helpful (and free!) study resources for students.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you make some time each week to practice your French! Soon enough, you’ll be able to talk about colors avec les doigts dans le nez !

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