advanced french podcast

Soaring High: 15 Advanced French Podcasts You’ll Absolutely Love

It’s time to bring out the big guns.

If you want to make the leap from an intermediate to advanced level of French, it’s going to take more than rote memorization of vocab and a bunch of grammar exercises.

But with a secret weapon, we can kill two birds with one stone.

Want to blast your French to fluency and acquire great conversation topics at the same time?

Enter French podcasts.

Native French podcasts allow you to immerse yourself in real French culture meant for real Francophone audiences. (They’re also super addicting—don’t say we didn’t warn you!)

Immersion is the key not only to understanding French, but also to sounding French.

So how exactly can podcasts help advanced French learners?

How Advanced French Learners Can Benefit from Podcasts

  • Fine-tune listening skills. Listening to a debate in a foreign language requires more effort and skill than reading a written or transcribed one. Keeping up with oral arguments requires close attention to transitions and tense, both of which can be easy to miss when spoken.

In fact, as explained in this video on FluentU’s YouTube Channel, there are many podcasts available for advanced learners.

Podcasts can be aimed at learners themselves, offering new vocabulary and grammatical information in a lesson-style environment. Podcasts can even be aimed at native French speakers, and completely in French! These podcasts in particular are a great way to train your ear and hear the French that real French speakers use.

For more videos like this one to improve your French listening, check out FluentU’s YouTube Channel.

  • Improve cadence and intonation. Being able to understand Francophones talking to each other in real French is a sure sign that you’re on the way to achieving fluency. Being able to reproduce their cadence and intonation means you’ve truly arrived in Fluentland.
  • Gain exposure to different accents. For more advanced learners, it’s challenging to move beyond the “standard French” accent; after all, the French spoken by Parisian newscasters and radio hosts isn’t the only French out there. By listening to French language podcasts you’ll expose yourself to the diverse array of accents of the Francophone world, from Bamako and Québec to Toulouse and Tunis.
  • Learn topic-specific vocabulary. Are you a budding political scientist? Interested in literary criticism? Or maybe biology is more your thing? Fluency is less about knowing every word that exists, and more about knowing a wide range of vocabulary to express yourself in the domains most relevant to your life and your surroundings.
  • Embrace immersive learning. So often, language learning is dominated by grammar lessons and vocab lists. While it’s essential to get a good foundation in grammar and functional French vocabulary, every French learner also needs sources of native, natural French. This is especially true when you reach an advanced phase of learning.

    Regular exposure to authentic, immersive French content will help you bridge the gap between advanced French study and complete fluency.

    Podcasts can give you that exposure. And, if you’d like to tap into an immersive French experience that includes curated, real-world videos with adaptive exercises, consider FluentU.

    You’ll have access to a library filled with French videos from native speakers, on all kinds of topics from movie clips to news segments. You can use the interactive captions to get an instant definition of any unfamiliar French word. FluentU tracks your progress and personalizes its exercises, so your engaging video lessons will keep you moving forward with more intriguing topics. Use the multimedia flashcards to reinforce the French words and phrases you’ve learned.

    Plus, you can take the videos anywhere on the FluentU mobile iOS / Android app. If you love learning French the way native speakers actually use it, it’s a good idea to mix FluentU videos into your practice alongside the great podcasts below.

How to Actively Listen to French Podcasts and Deliberately Practice

  • Translate. Start off with an oral translation (French to English) to get yourself warmed up, and then move on to a written translation, working as literally as possible. I recommend working with a 30-second clip.
  • Transcribe. This exercise is similar to translation but it requires more than just comprehension; you also have to pay attention to spelling and the relationship between sounds/pronunciation. Again, unless you can type at lightning speed, this exercise also works best with 30-second clips. After you’ve completed a written transcription, read it aloud in your best newscaster voice. This is a great way to practice speaking clearly, quickly and precisely, essential for oral fluency. 
  • Outline. While listening to an episode, outline the argument (Who is speaking? What is their point of view?). This works best with interviews. Afterwards, try to condense your outline into a single paragraph, paying close attention to transitions. Is the word you’re looking for néanmoins (nonetheless) or cependant (however)? 
  • Reformulate. At the end of each podcast, try to reconstruct the argument orally, as if you were explaining the podcast’s content to a friend. Make an audio recording and play it back to yourself. How can you improve your intonation? Does your sound too much like your ais?
  • Express yourself. Once you have reconstructed the argument, insert yourself into the debate. Where do you stand? What flaws did you notice in the argument? Do this orally (again, try recording yourself). If you’re feeling extra ambitious, express your opinion in the régistre soutenu (formal register).

Podcasts are perfect for your morning commute, working out at the gym, washing the dishes or walking the dog. I’ve included some recommendations of my favorite episodes in the following list of 15 to get you started.

15 Eclectic French Podcasts That Advanced Learners Will Love

1. Grand reportage, Radio France International

advanced french podcast

During the week, Grand Reportage consistently provides in-depth, sensitive, on-the-ground audio documentaries, drawing attention to the diversity of lived experience in the face of political conflict and environmental issues.

Notable Episodes:

  • Vanuatu: la reconstruction après le cyclone (Vanuatu: The Reconstruction After the Cyclone). On March 14, 2015 the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu was hit by a cyclone and was largely destroyed. Recorded one month later, this episode investigates the relief efforts and the current living situation of Vanuatu’s inhabitants.
  • Demandeurs d’asile Football Club (Asylum Seeker Soccer Club). In France’s Rhône department, nearly two thousand people have applied for asylum since 2014. This episode profiles a soccer team comprised of asylum seekers from Ivory Coast, Congo and Kosovo. The team’s Ivorian coach hopes to organize a tournament among other teams of asylum seekers in the region.

2. Géopolitique, France Inter

advanced french podcast

This is a short and snappy podcast, with each episode clocking in at a maximum of four minutes. Bernard Guetta gives you the rundown on international relations, focussing on one topic at a time, in the form of a rhythmic monologue.

Notable Episodes:

  • Le drame des réfugiés et les questions à nous poser (The Refugee Crisis and the Questions to Ask Ourselves). In light of the series of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, Guetta shares what he believes to be the political changes necessary to end the crisis.
  • La seconde vie d’Obama (The Second Life of Obama). In this episode, Guetta discusses Barack Obama and the advantages and disadvantages of the incredibly high standards to which he has been held since being elected.

3. Affaires étrangères, France Culture

advanced french podcast

Through conversations with researchers and political scientists, Christine Ockren provides in-depth coverage of foreign affairs and currents events in this podcast ranging from 30-60 minutes.

Notable Episodes:

  • La guerre contre Ebola (The War Against Ebola). This episode was recorded in September 2014 during the height of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and explores the relationship between international development and public health.
  • Hong Kong: le sursaut démocratique (Hong Kong: The Democratic Jolt). This episode is an in-depth analysis of “The Umbrella Movement,” the series of protests in Hong Kong that began in September 2014 in response to possible election reform.

4. Autour de la question, Radio France International

advanced french podcast

Hosted by Caroline Lachowsky, each episode of this playful podcast revolves around a pertinent question. To get answers, Lachowksy interviews experts from the hard sciences and the social sciences: psychologists, biologists, geologists, chemists and astronomers, to name a few!

Notable Episodes:

  • Existe-t-il une intelligence collective? (Does a Collective Intelligence Exist?). Ever wonder how it is that in crowded cities people manage to walk in (relatively) straight lines without ever talking to each other? Lachowsky explores the question of collective intelligence with two specialists in the field.
  • Pourquoi les zèbres ont des rayures? (Why Do Zebras Have Stripes?). With the help of a biologist, Lachowsky explores questions of evolutionary adaptive traits ranging from a zebra’s stripes to a giraffe’s long neck.

5. Les femmes, toute une histoire, France Inter

advanced french podcast

Stéphanie Duncan’s show is a mix of book reviews, interviews, history lessons and news reports that are devoted to women’s diversity, creativity and their role in shaping our world.

Notable Episodes:

  • Marie Curie et sa sœur Bronia, l’Association Caméléon et la physicienne Rajaa Cherkaoui El Moursli (Marie Curie and Her Sister Bronia, The Chameleon Association, and the Physicist Rajaa Cherkaoui El Moursli). Did you know Marie Curie had a sister? Well, it was largely thanks to her that Marie Curie could pursue her studies (and discover radioactivity). This episode also profiles the Chameleon Association in the Philippines that works to help abused children and their families, along with an interview with Moroccan physicist Dr. El Moursli.

6. Sur les docksFrance Culture

advanced french podcast

Produced by Irène Omélianenko, Sur les docks is an hour-long audio documentary show that features immersive portraits of people, places and experiences from the French countryside to the Himalayas.

Notable Episodes:

  • Dans les bras d’Amma (In Amma’s Arms). This episode is devoted to Amma, the Indian spiritual leader who travels around the world giving hugs, in the spirit of compassion and love.

7. Sur la route, France Culture

advanced french podcast

Julien Gacon’s Sur la route is like going on an aural road trip; through interviews and conversations with locals, historians, researchers and writers, listeners are exposed to the rhythms of different walks of life.

Notable Episodes:

  • Sur la route…de la Grande Normandie (On the Road…of Great Normandy”). This episode centers around the crossing of the Pont de Normandie (Normandy Bridge), which separates upper and lower Normandy, and contemplates the upcoming merge of the hitherto separate administrative regions.
  • Sur la route…de la solidarité privée, à Calais ( On the Road…of Private Solidarity in Calais). This episode portrays the individual acts of kindness of residents of Calais, a port town in the north of France, towards migrants on the way to England.

8. Sur les épaules de DarwinFrance Culture

advanced french podcast

Sur les épaules de Darwin, hosted by Jean-Claude Amelson, is an eclectic show that features interviews with researchers and readings of texts by scientists and poets alike, all centered around the marvels of the natural world.

Notable Episodes:

  • Voyage avec Oliver Sacks (A Journey with Oliver Sacks). This hour is devoted to a discussion with the prolific writer and British neurologist Oliver Sacks.

9. La Marche des sciencesFrance Culture

advanced french podcast

Aurélie Luneau skillfully combines storytelling and science as she visits schools, museums, factories and even the homes of scientists!

Notable Episodes:

  • Histoire des mathématiques: un nouvel outil à l’école (The History of Mathematics: A New Tool at School). This episode centers around France’s education system, which tends to separate those who are more math-oriented from the “literary types.” It explores the ways in which new ways of teaching math can be used to bridge this gap.

10. Soft Power: Le magazine des Internets, France Culture

advanced french podcast

This one-hour podcast hosted by Frédéric Martel revolves around the creative industry (film, music, literature), with a special emphasis on mass media and the internet. Each week Martel interviews journalists and researchers who discuss the stakes of living in “The Information Age.”

Notable Episodes:

  • Internet et les bouleversements du travail salarié (The Internet and the Disruptions to Salaried Work). What does it mean to work in the Information Age? What counts as being “on the clock”? These are just a couple of the questions raised in this episode of Soft Power. 

11. Révolutions médicales, France Culture

advanced french podcast

Hosted by René Fryman, Révolutions médicales is an hour-long show devoted to current debates and discussions with top researchers and doctors about innovations in medical research/practice and their effects on everyday life.

Notable Episodes:

  • Les sans logis face à la maladie (The Homeless Facing Sickness). This episode sensitively discusses the trials and tribulations that homeless and impoverished populations face when they are in need of healthcare.

12. L’heure des rêveurs, France Inter

advanced french podcast

Zoé Varier’s podcast is perfect for you bookworms out there. L’heure des rêveurs is in its eighth season and it’s still going strong. Its portraits, readings and travelogues are a perfect combination of the poetic and the political.

Notable Episodes:

  • Un livre culte, précieux et populaire: Dominique Blanc lit “Les Années” (A Bestseller— Precious and Popular: Dominique Blanc Reads “The Years”). In this episode, actor Dominique Blanc reads passages from Annie Ernaux’s extremely successful book “Les Années (“The Years”), described by critics as an autobiographie collective (collective autobiography) of France.
  • Lewis Carroll: mathématicien et photographe (Lewis Carroll: Mathematician and Photographer). This episode is a portrait of Lewis Carroll, known primarily as the author of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” who was also a mathematician and a photographer.

13. Carnet nomadeFrance Culture

advanced french podcast

A book, a river, a recipe, a song, a dress. These are just a few starting points of Collette Fellous’s Carnet nomade, a carefully-curated and beautifully-produced series of interviews, stories and memories—for all the free spirits out there.

Notable Episodes:

  • Exils, avant après (Exiles, Before After). This episode of Carnet nomade, especially poignant in light of the recent migrant shipwrecks, explores exile and migration as literary themes but also as lived experience, through three literary works.
  • Dans l’intimité de la Ville (In the Privacy of the City). Through the lens of works that focus on Paris, Barcelona and Berlin, this episode asks what it means to be at home in a big city, where a sense of community is often hard to come by.

14. Voyage, mode d’emploi, Radio France

advanced french podcast

This show, hosted by Ingrid Pohu, is great for those of us who love to travel but are on a budget. She provides advice and travel itineraries for memorable trips that won’t break the bank.

Notable Episodes:

  • À table chez l’habitant (At the Resident’s (Dining) Table). In this episode of Voyage, mode d’emploi, Pohu takes us into the world of foodsurfing where fine dining and home cooking collide.
  • Balades “archi” bien dans Paris (“Hyper” Good Walking Tours in Paris). Walking tours are a great way to see a city and get some exercise at the same time. This episodes profiles a Parisian company that offers walking tours to explore Paris’ architecture.

15. Tout un monde, France Culture

advanced french podcast

This show has a more poetic, philosophical slant than Voyage, mode d’emploi. Hosted by Marie-Hélène Fraïssé, Tout un monde offers the listener an opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures by way of poetry, fiction, literature and history.

Notable Episodes:

  • Lieux d’être (Places of Being). This meditative, contemplative episode of Tout un monde is devoted to geographer and philosopher Augustin Berque’s musings on sense of place and belonging in relation to Corsica.
  • Arménie: un aussi long silence (Armenia: A Terribly Long Silence). This important episode commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide through interviews with novelists, historians and social scientists.

Fill up your iPod and pop in your earbuds. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself taking Snoopy for extra long walks and vacuuming the floors in your apartment twice.

Added bonus: You’ll be fluent in no time. Another bonus: Not only will people think you’re French, they’ll think you’re très cultivé(e) (very cultivated). Don’t say I didn’t warn you: Podcasts are seriously addictive.

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