Watching movies or TV series are very helpful in learning a language. What such movies or series (french ones, of course) is recommended for a new learner?

This is what I experienced in learning English, and it came out pretty good, so I want to do the same for learning French.

As an example, the "Friends" TV series was very helpful to me, because the actors talk in a comprehensible way, and the story involves everyday life, contains conversations that are used the most if you live in an English-speaking country, and it also gets you acquainted with the social life of the country. On the other hand, "Lost" is not a good example in this case (at least not for a beginner), even though its being interesting.


16 Answers 16


This may sound obvious, but avoid translated movies/series — pick ones which are natively in French. There aren't so many French series, though. A list of French television series is maintained on Wikipedia.

I'd probably recommend starting with animated series. Being targeted at children, the language may be easier. The "Once upon a time..." (Il était une fois...) ones are very educative in general, too.

  • 6
    +1, Tintin and Astérix would get my vote from the list. I loved them as a kid and they're good interesting French to watch now as a learner.
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 12:20
  • 1
    All answers are useful, but I'm marking this one as the answer because it was the most complete one in my opinion, plus it provided a link to a complete list.
    – Iravanchi
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 20:12
  • 1
    Well, apart from animated series, I find that non-native series are actually better to understand. The sound is so much clearer when someone dubs it in a studio (instead of pointing the microphone somewhere on a street or something). Much less mumbling, too. Of course it won't be a real french production, but, umm, that's up to personal taste, I guess.
    – w.m
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 14:33
  • 1
    You make a fair point, and the stupio-recorded sound is probably also why animated series would be easier too. But it's indeed a matter of taste after all.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 17:05
  • @w.m There are often anglicisms in dubbed series
    – rds
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 17:36

Not exactly a series per se, but I found "Qui veut gagner des millions?" to be very interesting to watch to improve my own French. The questions (and answers) are comparable to the English version, with say 50% being cultural (which I mostly hadn't a clue on, but learned a lot from) and 50% being general knowledge (which I knew or could guess at in English), but exposing me to quite a wide vocabulary compared to many TV shows.

For the general knowledge it's easy to infer meaning to some unknown words purely from the context and better yet you can use the "suspense building" time for a quick dictionary check!

  • 3
    Good one - although some questions in the late game would probably be too hard, the starting ones are good. In addition, the tempo of the game is slow enough that you won't miss anything, and questions being written on the screen helps too.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 12:29
  • 2
    La version canadienne "Qui veut gagner de l'argent en masse?" est pas mal non plus.
    – Knu
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 23:27

This may be off-topic (downvote if you think so!) but I think books are just as useful for learning a language as movies, if not more so. I especially recommend the Harry Potter series, for the following reasons:

  • It was written for children, so it's fairly easy to understand, especially the first two books.
  • It's very long (the English version is about 3,500 pages), so it'll keep you occupied for a while.
  • You probably already know the story.

I know reading children's books translated from English sounds stupid, but the hurdle of learning how to read French is so enormous that it's good to make it as easy as possible. And you'll learn an enormous amount of vocabulary; after I had read the first 6 tomes and a few other popular novels, I was ready for Maupassant and Zola.

  • 1
    I'd recommend children's books too, comics in particular. Keeping in mind that there are a lot of comics in French, they actually cover a very large spectrum of difficulty (contrast Les Schtroumpfs with Blake and Mortimer for example). Not so sure on Harry Potter though, as they are translated.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 9:54
  • Indeed they are translated, but since they are probably the most popular Anglophone literature in France, the translation is very, very well done. Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:57
  • 4
    It sure is, but some names translations might be troubling if you're used to the English names (Snape => Rogue, Hogwarts => Poudlard, etc, etc... it's way worse in Dutch, btw). Also, it may be hard for a non-native to figure out if a word in an actual French word or if it's invented (granted, that doesn't have to do with it being translated). But on the plus side, at least you can use the English version as reference, which can't be said for French-only literature.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 14:05
  • I've been reading the HP books for 2 months, in French, and my vocabulary has grown a lot, I read pretty fast, and sometimes I even manage to think in French. The reason it works is mostly because it has a linear yet entertaining story. You can guess a lot from context, even if you haven't read them in English. Metaphors kill me in French, and they're not that common in HP, as it's children's literature. The plot is interesting and you really want to know what happens, so you keep going. I'm considering this as a language-learning technique in general. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:37
  • Or, first read a translation then the original in French. L'Étranger by Albert Camus is a book that many Anglophones use to read in French. It has several translations into English. I've read a 1989 translation by Matthew Ward, which is supposedly closer to the original in brevity and tone. Then I started reading the original. So far, I've been learning French for only a month, so lots of new words, but syntax is rather simple.
    – Rusty Core
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 0:52

Here are some observations while learning French.

  1. The French spoken by native French is very fast. For beginners its very hard to catch up. Also the pronunciation is not always clear or sometimes there is no distinction between two words. As our brain is not trained yet for these sound patterns, for beginners its hard to understand.

  2. For beginners, I would suggest guided speech like documentaries: in English/foreign documentaries which are dubbed in French, the speech is clearly pronounced and speed is not very fast.

  3. I watched a French documentary TV series which has good pronunciation and moderate speed: “Enquête Exclusive”. It has greatly increased my comprehension and vocabulary.

  4. French In Action: A video series for learning French.

  5. Extra: extr@ (Wikipedia).

  6. C'est pas sorcier -BONBONS : C'est si bon... ?! as suggested by Random.

Juste came across a link: The 15 Best TV Series to Learn French for All Levels.

  • 1
    I would also suggest "C'est pas sorcier", in your "2." part.
    – Random
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 9:41

If you're fairly new to French, then I'd suggest you try watching easier French films with English subtitles on them. You want something that doesn't have a lot of slang (argot) in them. Comedy films often work well, as do quite a few RomComs. There are loads of films in this category that you can watch, so your easiest way is probably just to watch out for them being shown on English TV - they'll usually be shown with the French soundtrack and English subtitles which is what you want.

Once you're feeling you have a better handle on it, you probably want to switch to watching that style of movie, but with the French soundtrack and the French subtitles. If need be, pause it when you can't understand either the spoken or the written version, but usually you'll get at least one of them.

Finally, graduate onto something with more slang, probably still with French soundtrack and subtitles (though that can be a problem with some DVDs). Crime thrillers can be quite good, as they often give you an insight into French society at the same time. Engrenages / Spiral is one such TV series that's good for this, it has great stories, you learn a lot about the French justice system, and you get to practice a lot of listening!

  • 4
    I'm not sure I'd agree with this. Subtitles make me lazy.
    – Flexo
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:06

"Plus belle la vie" is quite easy to follow. However, while it deals about everyday life, it is not about real life in Marseille, there are not that many murders there. :)

  • 1
    I was going to advise the same one. I don't like it eacuse it all seems as bad acting, but this feeling is even bigger because of the very detailed pronunciation making it easier to use for learning purpose. Trying to get some TV5 programs may also help as they're usually subtitled in French even though they are french-speaking.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 14:05

If you like humor you can watch "Kaamelot" ou "Caméra Café", but I think it's a bit complicated to understand for a novice.

  • 5
    C'est pas faux.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 13:24
  • 1
    Pas de séries en France, on en a gros !
    – chepseskaf
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 13:42
  • I strongly disagree with Kaamelot. There are a lot of invented/old french words, phrases that are not correct (On en a gros !), Word out of contexts (Peremptoire, even if in this specific case, the show explain the term), This can be very difficult for a 'learning' speaker, and worse, it can teach wrong information.
    – dna
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 12:24

I recommend you "Ma france" series by BBC. It's really a wonderful training programme. Visit: Ma France - French video course for post-beginners (BBC).


I like to use the TV5 app in my mobile. It has a lot of videos in native French, most with the option to use subtitles and they are updated very often.


I recommend both Jean de Florette and Manon des sources (Manon of the Spring), based on the novels of the respected author, Marcel Pagnol. The language is clear, unhurried, and nuanced. If you watch literary films like these, you can use the books as companion material (or vice versa).


Try News in Slow French.... https://www.newsinslowfrench.com/.


I would recommend "Le Château de ma mère" and "Le Gloire de mon père," both excellent movies and spoken slowly enough to understand. But I suspect you'd like something online and free. So, "A French Village" on Amazon Prime. Some of the seasons are free; others require membership in some other service. The really good part for learning French, though, is the short oral histories that accompany some of the seasons. There, you get French as real people speak it and, since unscripted, it's generally slow. These oral histories run about 6 minutes each, which makes repeated listening relatively easy.


There is a web-serie on Youtube called Extr@ French.

  • This is actually pretty good. This series is done in multiple languages, has subtitles, and the language is spoken at a slower speed so you can hear each word. It's done somewhat in the style of the American TV series friends.
    – alex.pilon
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 19:35

I would like to recommend a crime serie called Meurtres à... . Every episode takes place at a some beautiful location in France, most of them are little towns, villages or even islands. Watching it you are going to improve not only your French, but also the geography and cultural and historical background. The required level is intermediate. There are some episodes with subtitles available as replay on france.tv - you need a french IP or VPN, of course.


Watch Extr@. That's what my French teacher is using to teach us. All of the episodes can be found on YouTube and there are also German and Spanish versions if you want to learn German or Spanish.


You could try Totally Spies: https://www.youtube.com/@TotallySpiesFrancais/videos

If you are willing to use a VPN, you can also watch kids programs from national broadcasters like RadioCanada, RTBF, and RTS.

  • While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review
    – Toto
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 18:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.