The French language is usually where we turn for precise (and typically ingenious) expressions to describe almost any situation. In the case of the historic April frosts that severely impacted vineyards from Champagne to Provence, the French might borrow one from the English language. A perfect storm.
Defined as an unusual convergence of events or circumstances that, together, leads to a particularly bad or catastrophic situation, “a perfect storm” is the most fitting descriptive that can be used in polite company. Most readers will recall the phrase from a 1997 non-fiction book with the same title, written by Sebastian Junger, about the tragedy met by the crew of a fishing boat from Gloucester, Massachusetts in October 1991. The best-selling book was turned into a popular movie, and the phrase was quickly adopted into our lexicon.
It does not translate well in French. The direct translation, “une tempête parfait,” according to French friends, simply does not resonate in the same way that “a perfect storm” does in English. When the movie opened in France, the title chosen was “En Pleine Tempête,” meaning “at the height of a storm,” clearly not applicable for the April 7-8 frosts across the country that will be recorded as historic, long past the height... [...]