Ready to be inspired and go exploring?
We’re going to peek through virtual windows into other worlds.
So what’ll give us this magical view?
Blogs in French.
Blogs are sites that are frequently updated with new content, and they just so happen to be perfect for advanced French learners.
You’ll want to add this epic source right alongside your French apps, hashtags and addictive French sites.
Why are they so great? Let’s take a look:
Why Blogs Are Useful for Advanced French Learners
- They’re a democratic medium. You don’t have to be rich or well-connected to start a blog. Monsieur Tout-le-Monde (The French equivalent of the “average Joe”) can start a blog and share personal opinions with people all over the world. Due to the accessibility of blogging, advanced learners can gain exposure to a diverse range of viewpoints and perspectives. Indeed, bloggers all over the world are giving professional journalists a run for their money through their daily on-the-ground reporting.
- They use common language. Because many blogs are familier (informal) in tone, it makes them a great way to learn current slang and current turns of phrases used by native French speakers—especially if you read the comments sections!
- They’re interesting. The way I see it, blogs truly epitomize la liberté d’expression (freedom of expression). While traditional journalism is meant to foreground information at the expense of the writer, blogging allows a writer’s personality shine through.
- They can be short. Besides that, blog posts are often shorter than newspaper articles, so they can be read relatively quickly while you drink your morning coffee—after checking Facebook and FluentU, of course!Over time, you’ll pick up on bloggers’ linguistic quirks. For an advanced learner, this is a great way to add nuance and subtlety to your own written and spoken French.
Tips for Actively Reading Blogs in French
- Read (and reread). Read each post at least twice. The first time around, resist the urge to look up any words you don’t know. Instead, pay attention to context and try to understand the gist of the word’s meaning.
- Make a list/flashcards in French. Keep a notebook (or flashcards) of new words and phrases you come across while reading blogs. Instead of going from French to English though, make French-to-French lists, where the definitions are written in French as well.
- Test your grammar, subject-verb agreement and conjugation chops. There are certain mistakes that native French speakers frequently make when writing. Can you spot any while reading these blogs? Here are a few to watch out for:
- Mode: The subjunctive is not just a huge pain in the you-know-what for English speakers. Native French speakers have trouble with this mode as well. At this point, seeing the incorrect “Il faut que je vais chez le médecin” should make your eyes twitch a little bit. (The correct way to say “I must go to the doctor” is “Il faut que j’aille chez le médecin,” by the way.)
- Conjugation: In writing, the future tense (indicative mood) is often confused with the conditional mood, so it’s not uncommon to see “je mangerais” (I would eat) instead of “je mangerai” (I will eat) and vice versa.
- Subject-verb agreement: These types of mistakes are especially common when words are pronounced the same but spelled differently. L’homme est sorti (the man left) versus la femme est sortie (the woman left), for example.
- Comment. Commenting on blog posts is a great low-stakes way of talking to native speakers about current events, popular culture and the like, so speak your mind. Sois poli(e) (Be polite)!
- Get fancy (and then let loose). Find a post written in the registre familier (familiar register) and try to rewrite it in the registre soutenu (formal register)—you know, with the passé simple and all that. If you’re really feeling feisty, transform a post from the registre soutenu to the registre courant. Go wild with the slang!
Okay, ready for the blogs? Here we go:
12 Incredible Blogs in French for Advanced Learners
News and Current Events
1. American Digest: L’actualité des idées en Amérique, en V.O.
Keeping up with l’actualité française (French current events) is important to gain insight into French society. This blog by LeMonde journalist Marc-Olivier Bherer is a great source for reading about political, cultural and intellectual debates taking place in American society from the French point of view. The posts are dense, well-researched and thought-provoking—un vrai blog d’intello, quoi (a real blog for the intellectual types, you know)! Check out this post on how the events at Charlie Hebdo impacted life on the other side of the pond.
2. Bondy Blog
The Bondy Blog was founded in 2005 as a means for a group of 50 young adults from Seine-Saint-Denis to express their opinions in France’s national debates. Since its inception, The Bondy Blog has racked up partnerships with various organizations, journalism schools, televisions shows and charities.
Currently hosted on the site of the newspaper La Libération, Bondy Blog’s posts are extremely rich, perceptive and nuanced, providing insight into the often overshadowed France populaire (working-class France). Check out this insightful and moving post about a nursing school graduate who decides to put her degree to use by treating prisoners.
3. Greenpeace Blog
Greenpeace is an international NGO with offices in over forty countries—including France—that is devoted raising awareness about environmental issues through peaceful means. The French chapter’s blog is frequently updated, making it a great way to stay on top of the European debates surrounding nuclear energy and GMOs.
4. Green et Vert
Green et Vert, the self-proclaimed source inépuisable sur le développement durable (endless sourse on sustainable development), truly lives up to its name. More global in scope than the Greenpeace blog, you can browse Green et Vert by region of the world and read its succinct and informative posts about agriculture, biodiversity, the economy and global warming. Why not get in touch with your inner écolo (short for écologiste, someone who’s into environmental responsibility) and read up on the amount of electronic waste dumped in African countries and the environmental casse-tête (conundrum) of dealing with pollution in Paris?
Fashion and Beauty
5. Garance Doré
Garance Doré is arguably the most popular bloggueuse (female blogger) on the French fashion circuit. Originally from Corsica and currently living in the Big Apple, Garance’s site is a beautifully-illustrated treasure trove for those who find fashion to be un vrai kiff (a real trip). The site is updated several times a day, featuring everything from portraits of professionals in the creative industry, to light-hearted musings on what constitutes the perfect pair of jeans.
6. Black Beauty Bag
Black Beauty Bag provides a peek into the glamorous world of Fatou N’Diaye, who decided to carve out a space for herself in the blogosphere in 2007 after a trip to New York where she discovered the plethora of make-up options for women of color, which were few and far between in Europe. Check out this post about N’Diaye’s trip to Dakar where she spoke at a beauty conference co-sponsored by the prestigious Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Talk about beauty and brains!
Did you know that the Google Glasses 2.0 are in development? Or that the mask from the “Iron Man” movies is a real thing? No? Neither did I. If you want to be up to date on all that is high-tech, Gizmodo is the blog for you.
8. Journal du Gamer
This is a blog geared specifically toward you gamers out there. Looking for a review of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters? Want to know what the XBox One fuss is all about? Journal du Gamer has got you covered. Make sure to keep an eye on the growing le mot du jour (word of the day) feature. The most recent addition is joueuse (feminine version of “player”) thanks to the recent Gamergate controversy.
9. Cinema Teaser
If you’re a fan of cinema, Cinema Teaser is the blog for you, with its in-depth reviews of movies ranging from the latest Dreamworks animation to that new art-house movie that you heard about. To whet your appetite, check out the Dossier Foxcatcher, which features a portrait of Steve Carell, an interview with Mark Ruffalo, and an insightful critique of the film.
10. In the Mood for Cinema
In the Mood for Cinema is a one-woman show run exclusively by French critic Sandra Mézière, a strong writer who sees a staggering number of films each year. Her anticipation for this year’s Cannes film festival is palpable in this post where she details her past Cannes experiences.
Music is an essential part of a French learner’s arsenal. Blogothèque is a carefully curated collection of artist profiles, album reviews, concert reports and playlists galore, bien évidemment (obviously). You’re sure to find something that fits your fancy!
12. Décollage Immédiat
Décollage Immédiat, hosted on the Le Monde website, is the virtual travelogue of writer Geraldine Rué. Spend a few minutes on the blog and you’ll come down with a serious case of wanderlust. She’s been everywhere: Madagascar, Martinique, the United States and most recently Chile. Thanks to Rué’s breathtaking photos and detail-rich prose, you can go on a tour du monde (world tour) without ever leaving your desk.
I like to think of blogs as virtual windows into the other worlds, but they’re not ends in and of themselves. So read up, get inspired and then get up and explore the (non-virtual) world. After all, when you’re armed with more than one language, the windows are even wider.
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.