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The Best Series and TV Shows for French Learners

Many non-native English-speakers learned the language while watching popular TV shows such as Friends or Game of Thrones.

This tip works just as well for other languages! Luckily, the French TV scene is bustling with great series and programs in every genre. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced French learner, you’ll find popular shows perfect for your level. All you need is access to YouTube, Netflix, and/or Amazon Prime.

Here at FrenchPod101, we just love binging on quality shows. We proudly consider ourselves to be expert reviewers when it comes to French television! Here’s our top list of the best French series for learners of all levels. Pick your favorite and clear your schedule!

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Table of Contents

  1. For the Glamour Lovers
  2. For the Drama Queens
  3. For the Foodies
  4. For the Fun Learners
  5. For the Aspiring Detectives
  6. For Our Younger Students
  7. Bonus: What NOT to Watch
  8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

1. For the Glamour Lovers

Who doesn’t fantasize about living in Paris, the “City of Love?”

Producers are obviously well aware of our fascination with the French glamour. Here are some shows that will acquaint you with the most famous French singers and actors!

1- Dix pour Cent

This is a fiction/reality show, and is ongoing with two seasons to date. Dix pour Cent is perfect the intermediate French learner, and is available on Netflix and FranceTV.fr.

If you love French cinema and wish you could sneak behind the scenes, Dix pour Cent might just be your dream come true!

Delve into the daily life of fictional artist A.S.K., where three agents struggle to accommodate their prestigious clients. In each episode, a famous French actor plays his or her own role with talent and self-deprecation. The exceptional casting unites many of the most prestigious and talented French stars in a unique show!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cast:

  • Cécile de France
  • Joey Starr
  • Nathalie Baye
  • Gilles Lelouche
  • Laura Smet
  • Ramzy Bédia
  • Michel Druker
  • Virgine Effira
  • Fabrice Luchini
  • Christophe Lambert
  • Julien Doré
  • Isabelle Adjani
  • Juliette Binoche

Further, Jean Dujardin, Monica Bellucci, Isabelle Huppert, Gérard Lanvin, and Béatrice Dalle are announced as part of season three’s casting!

Call My Agent

2- Danse Avec les Stars

This is a reality show, ongoing with eight seasons to date. We consider Danse Avec les Stars to be a fantastic French show for those just beginning to learn the language. It’s available on YouTube and TF1.fr.

Danse Avec les Stars is the French version of the British show Strictly Come Dancing. Every season, three famous French dancers judge the dance performances of French artists (singers, actors, comedians, and models). Luckily for them, the candidates are coached by their partners, who are also famous French dancers. Who will be the most stylish couple?

Starring in this fab series are:

  • Matt Pokora
  • Shy’m
  • Amel Bent
  • Alizée
  • Lorie
  • Fauve Hautot

Danse Stars

2. For the Drama Queens

Who doesn’t love a bit of drama to spice up a casual TV binge?

1- Plus Belle la Vie

This Drama is ongoing with a whopping fourteen seasons to date, and we recommend it for intermediate French learners. Find Plus Belle la Vie on francetv.fr and tv-replay.fr.

Plus Belle la Vie

We could hardly list France’s most popular shows without mentioning Plus Belle la Vie. It has been on air for more than 10 years! Apparently, the French cannot get enough of the inhabitants of Le Mistral, a fictitious district of Marseille. With more than 3500 episodes, you’ll be bilingual by the time you’re done with the show!

2- Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is a reality show, with twenty-two—yes, you read that correctly! —seasons to date. This one is great entertainment for both beginners and more advanced learners! It’s available on tf1.fr.

Koh Lanta

Stranded on a desert island, two teams of candidates must overcome various challenges to survive. Become a master of the French language while sitting on the edge of your seat to find out who has the gumption to make it!

3. For the Foodies

Food probably accounts for at least a quarter of the reasons you wanted to learn French in the first place. The French love their blanquette de veau, confit de canard, sole meunière, Paris-Brest, macarons, and 1200 kinds of cheese…and so does French TV. Watching these shows at dinnertime is a pretty typical French experience!

1- Un Dîner Presque Parfait

This reality show finished up after nine seasons, and is available on YouTube and 6play.fr. We think that beginners will reap the most benefits from watching this show—and enjoy it all the way through!

Un Dîner Presque Parfait

Based on the British reality show Come Dine with Me, this program has become a staple of French pop culture. Un Dîner Presque Parfait pits four couples against each other in a friendly competition. The French hospitality and gastronomy is at stake. Which couple will throw the most lavish, refined, delicious dinner party for the three others?

2- Top Chef

Top Chef, as you likely guessed, is a reality show and is great for the beginner in French. Available on YouTube and 6play.fr, this series is ongoing with nine seasons to date.

Here’s a snapshot of the top-notch cast:

  • Cyril Lignac
  • Jean-François Piège
  • Michel Etchebest
  • Hélène Darroze

Top Chef

Do you want to up your culinary level a bit? The French always do! Top Chef focuses on exceptionally talented amateurs. Every season, up to fourteen talented candidates try to impress four of France’s best chefs. They may or may not have professional training, but many of them aspire to open their own restaurant. Unfortunately, one candidate is eliminated in each episode… Fingers crossed that your favorite will make it!

3- Le Meilleur Pâtissier

With six seasons so far, this French cooking show is excellent for beginners. You can watch it on YouTube and 6play.fr.

The cast of Le Meilleur Pâtissier includes:

  • Cyril Lignac
  • Jacqueline Mercorelli
  • Pierre Hermé

Le Meilleur Pâtissier

It’s time for dessert! Indulge your sweet tooth with this version of Top Chef that focuses on the French’s favorite: la pâtisserie. Up to eleven aspiring pastry chefs will compete for the judges’ favor through several demanding challenges. And many of them own their own pastry shop, so you may hope to taste their wonderful creations someday!

4. For the Fun Learners

Somewhat less famous than Belgian or English humor, French humor has given us some great shows over the years. These series are a perfect introduction!

1- Un Gars Une Fille

Jean Dujardin and Alexandra Lamy star in this comedy, which is over after five seasons. This show is lighthearted and perfect for beginners and advanced learners alike. Check out YouTube to see for yourself!

Un Gars Une Fille

Catch some hilarious glimpses into the life of the “couple next door!” Also discover the debut of Jean Dujardin, star of award-winning movie The Actor.

2- H

This show concluded after four seasons, and starred Jamel Debbouze, and Eric & Ramzy. This one is best suited for intermediate French learners, and is available on francetv.fr.

H

“H” is for Hôpital! A parody of famous hospital series, H follows the inner life of a (quite dysfunctional) hospital. It also stars some of the most famous French comedians, including Jamel Debbouze and Eric & Ramzy.

3- Bref

This hilarious comedy aired over eighty-two episodes, starring Kyan Khojandi and Bérengère Krief.
We recommend this one especially for beginners. Find it on YouTube and get ready to laugh.

Bref

Bref is one of the most recent series on this list, but is already a common French pop reference. It depicts the life of an average French millennial in a series of very short—well, brief—scenes. Warning: It will, in turn, make you laugh and move you to tears.

4- Kaamelott

Kaamelott is unique in its own right, as a historical comedy. This show ended after six seasons and is currently available on 6play.fr. If you’re an intermediate or expert French student and are looking for something to bring you genuine laughter, give this one a shot.

Kaamelott

This caustic take on King Arthur’s court will remind you just how much the French love to make fun of the English.

5- Au Service de la France

Another historical comedy—and a new one at that—Au Service de la France is ongoing with one season to date. We’ll mention that this one is more for advanced learners, and is available on Netflix and arte.tv.

Au Service de la France

Self-deprecation is the basis of French humor, and this new show is a perfect illustration. Just like the OSS 117 movies, it makes a mockery of the French secret services during the sixties.

5. For Those Fascinated with France’s Rich History

Thankfully, French TV can also take history seriously! These shows will teach you more than all of your high school social studies classes put together.

1- Versailles

This historical drama ended after three seasons, and is currently available on mycanal.fr. We recommend this show for intermediate learners in particular.

Versailles

The court of the Roi Soleil is everyone’s favorite period of France’s history. This series brings you behind the scenes; discover the glorious decors, flamboyant costumes, and mysterious intrigues of this time period.

2- Un Village Français

Over after seven seasons, Un Village Français is available on francetv.fr. This is another excellent option for those more advanced in their French language learning.

Un Village Français

WWII’s Occupation remains a touchy subject in France. This made it all the more surprising when Un Village Français delivered an intelligent yet popular take on it. Collaboration, resistance, communism, loss, and courage make up the lives of the inhabitants of a fictitious French village, from 1939 to 1945.

6. For the Aspiring Detectives

The French thriller series have gotten better and better these last few years. Check out the latest mystery shows!

1- Les Revenants

This wonderful mystery series is now over after two seasons. Best for more advanced learners, this show is available on mycanal.fr.

Les Revenants

A thriller with a supernatural twist! In a small mountain town, a few individuals come back from the dead. But why?

2- Engrenages

This intense thriller is ongoing with seven seasons to date; we recommend that only more advanced learners try watching this one. It’s available on mycanal.fr.

Engrenages

Engrenages is one of the best cop shows you can view these days, and not just in France! Inspired by real affairs, this realistic show will soon be on air in the UK and the US.

3- Malaterra

This one is already over after one season, but is still available on both Netflix and francetv.fr for advanced French learners.

Malaterra

This French adaptation of Broadchurch is set in the gorgeous landscapes of Corsica. As a boy’s corpse is discovered on the beach, the nearby village’s secrets are unraveled.

4- La Forêt

Another thriller over after one season, La Forêt is currently available to watch on Netflix. It’s a perfect show for the advanced French student in terms of both learning opportunity and entertainment.

La Forêt

When a teenager’s body is discovered in a forest, the inquiry unearths the past of an orphan and a wild man. (Sounds pretty intense, right?)

5- La Mante

If you’ve got your footing pretty well secure in the French language and want to dig into some suspense, watch La Mante. Over after one season, it’s available on Netflix and tf1.fr.

La Mante

A serial killer’s son, now a cop, is forced to face his past when a copycat mimics his mother’s crimes. Actress Carole Bouquet is amazing in the titular role.

7. For Our Younger Students

Did you know that there are many French artists among the staff of Disney and Pixar Studios? The French love a good animation show! Here are a few productions that will motivate our younger learners:

1- Les Aventures de Tintin

This animated mystery, over after twelve episodes, is a fantastic television option for your youngster—you’ll love it too. This neat cartoon is available on Netflix, francetv.fr, and YouTube.

Les Aventures de Tintin

Did you love to read young reporter Tintin’s adventures as a child? The younger generations can also enjoy this animated French adaptation!

2- Code Lyoko

If you or your young French learner is into action, give Code Lyoko a try. Over after four seasons, you can still find this cartoon on YouTube. It’s ideal for the beginner French student.

Code Lyoko

In this incredible series, a tech-savvy band of teenagers fight a demonic entity that tries to take control of their school.

3- Totally Spies

Here’s another action cartoon that will help you or your kiddos enjoy learning French even more. This show for beginners is composed of six seasons, and is available on tf1.fr and YouTube.

Totally Spies

In this modern, kid-friendly version of Charlie’s Angels, three teenage girls live a double-life as spies.

4- Miraculous

This action cartoon, ongoing with two seasons to date, is perfect for beginners and more advanced students alike. You can find it on Netflix.

Miraculous

Set in Paris, Miraculous depicts the adventures (and flirting) of Marinette and Adrian…or should we say, super-heroes Ladybug and le Chat Noir.

5- Avatar the Last Airbender

A little more action never hurt anyone, right? Over after three seasons, this beginner-level cartoon is conveniently available to watch on Netflix.

Avatar the Last Airbender

Young avatar Aang must learn to master the four elements to put an end to the war. The French version of this fantastic show is now available on Netflix—check it out!

8. Bonus: What NOT to Watch

Sadly, television is not always the best teacher. French learners should stay away from some programs to avoid becoming bored to death, or worse: catching an annoying accent.

  • Les Marseillais - This is low-quality and trashy. You don’t want your French to sound like any of the people in this show.
  • Marseille - As much as we love Gérard Depardieu, his acting is terrible in this show.
  • Le Chalet - Its actors speak too quickly and sound a little bit odd, for no apparent reason.

9. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

Luckily, many of the great shows we covered are due for new seasons! Don’t miss out on the next developments of Top Chef, Engrenages, and Plus Belle La Vie. We at FrenchPod101 will be sure to remind you!

In the meantime—when you’re done binging—we’re working on other ways to help you improve your French. Coming up next: The best French novels to read on the beach this summer!

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