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 !
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:
|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.
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.
|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|
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.
|Tangerine||L’orange mandarine||lɔʁɑ̃ʒ mɑ̃daʁin||Lo-rahnsh man-da-rin|
|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.
|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.
|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|
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.
|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.
|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|
|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!
|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.
|Sage||Le vert sauge||lə vɛʁ soʒ||Luh vehr saush|
|Green||Le vert||lə vɛʁ||Luh vehr|
|Jade||Le jade||lə ʒad||Luh zhad|
|Lime||Le citron vert||lə sitʁɔ̃ vɛʁ||Luh see-tron ver|
|Forest||Le vert forêt||lə vɛʁ fɔʁɛ||Luh ver fore-ret|
|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.
|Black||Le noir||lə nwaʁ||Luh noo-are|
|Cool Black||Le noir froid||lə nwaʁ fʁwa||Luh noo-are froo-ah|
|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|
|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.
|Beige||Le beige||lə bɛʒ||Luh behzh|
|White||Le blanc||lə blɑ̃||Luh blahnk|
|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|
|Off White||Le blanc cassé||lə blɑ̃ kase||Luh blahnk kah-say|
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.
|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.
|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!
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 !