Recommended French TV Series for French Learners
I made this list for anybody who started learning French and anybody on Duolingo who is interested at looking at a few French shows and seeing how much they understand the language:
- Plus belle la vie
Marseille is a beautiful southern French city that receives at least 300 days of sunshine every year, making it a dream holiday destination for those who want to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle. Set in this idyllic coastal city, "Plus belle a vie" is a day to day serial drama about the lives of the residents in an imaginary neighbourhood called Mistral.
- Les Adventures de Tintin
I’m sure that all of us would have read the Tintin comics at one point of our lives. It is a popular comic character which was created in Belgium and not France, contrary to popular belief. Watch “Les Aventures de Tintin” to relive some of our childhood memories.
It was created in 1991 from the comic book series, “The Adventures of Tintin.” Each episode usually lasts for 45 minutes and they are currently being replayed on the kids channel daily.
- Qui veut gagner des millions ?
This is the French version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.” It is a gameshow of several multiple choice questions based on general knowledge and culture. The aim of the game is to answer all questions correctly to win the one million dollars.
Along the way, there are three lifelines that the contestant can use – 50/50, call to a friend and audience poll. Watch this to learn more about the culture, history, traditions etc. of France, as well as some tactics to winning the game should we become a future contestant on this gameshow.
- Caméra Café
We all have a coffee machine in our home or the office right? The coffee is so ingrained in our daily lives that many of us drink it in the morning or to keep us awake during the day. Being located in the pantry area of the company, the coffee machine becomes the conversation starter during each episode.
We can relate to the coffee machine and the people who work at the headquarters of a large French company (main characters include a driver for the president, a director of human resources and a full-time psychologist). Through their witty professional or private discussions at the coffee machine, this parody of the daily lives of French workers will keep us laughing.
“Engrenages” is a crime thriller which gives the viewer an insight into French society. We can be informed more about the French justice system. Through a young prosecutor, a police captain, a judge and a criminal lawyer, we delve into the complicated world of the courthouse in Paris, its workings, its actors and its little tricks.
According to some lawyers and prosecutors, the shows may not be as accurate as what happens in real life, but as long as we can feast our eyes on good-looking actors/actresses, it does not matter. This is one of the rare TV series that has been exported overseas and sold in almost 70 countries, a proof of its success.
- Les Guignols de l’info
“Les Guignols de l’info” is a satirical news broadcast hosted by latex puppets. The Guignols are known for introducing popular catch phrases or satirising politicians and they have a large influence on French popular culture.
The show has challenged current popular figures and conventional thoughts, more effectively than many other forms of media. While their main focus is on French politics, they parody international events sometimes. We can be kept updated about current affairs and gain different perspectives about such issues by watching this show.
- Coup de foudre au prochain village
Interested to see how romance blossoms between a city girl and a country boy? Watch this reality TV series to find out more. A bus carrying twenty young urban girls looking for love traverses across several villages in France. They are searching for a companion to leave the city together for a quieter life.
The bus spends one week in each village, where three men will approach them on the first day and they can choose to get to know them better. As the days go by, each men is left with a smaller number of contenders, any remaining ones will then decide to stay in the village or continue on the bus to try their luck at the next village.
If you know any other good French TV shows, suggest them for everybody in the comments. Have fun watching ;)
Native french speaker here. "Plus belle la vie" is basically the dreadful french equivalent of a telenovela, I would probably not recommand that. But then again at least they probably won't use too many difficult words...
Off the top of my head, I'd say:
"Les revenants". Set in a small village in the mountains where dead people suddenly reappear and try to continue their life where it stopped... Which causes a lot of problems with the living. It gets quite strange and dark after a few episodes. They tried to do an american adaptation and it failed because it sucked, but the original show is quite good.
Basically a lot of the shows produced by Canal+ (Braquo, Engrenages, Baron Noir, Maison Close...) Not all of them are good but it's often just a bit better than what other channels produce.
Kaamelott. An absurd take on King Arthur's tale, extremely popular and easy to find on youtube. Very funny, but you probably need a good level of french as they talk a lot, often use some unusual expressions and there are quite a lot of word plays.
"Fais pas ci, fais pas ça" if you want a simple comedy show. The plot is quite classic, it follows two quite different neighboring families. To oversimplify one is quite conservative and the other quite liberal. It's not the best show ever but it's quite entertaining and there are some good jokes.
Scène de ménages. Same kind of show as Caméra Café or Kaamelott (even if Kaamelott evolved into 50 minutes episodes after a few seasons), short stories, they follow 3 (then 4 and now 5) couples in everyday situations. Often quite funny, it's extremely popular in France.
Hero Corp. Comedy show about a group of very ❤❤❤❤❤❤ superheroes who lost their powers. At the beginning of the show they all hide in a remote village where they try to be forgotten, but things start to get messy for them quickly. It's not always good but it has its moments.
You actually have some good youtube only shows, such as "Le visiteur du futur", the story of a time traveller. The first season shows that it was a youtube show and it looks a bit cheap, but eventually it became quite popular and ended up on TV with a better budget and better effects.
...and many more. But with those you already have a lot to watch. ;)
If you have small children (or have to entertain them often), this is a good one. I think it's probably geared toward very small children since the episodes are only minutes apiece, so it's very basic French since the main characters are all small (young) animals. For whatever reason, my nephew loved watching this in French (YouTube has French, though Netflix has the English), so I used to use him to practice my French before he outgrew obsessively watching Trotro.
Thanks. I've actually been interested into looking at French dubbed anime. Death Note and Naruto have nice French dubs :P