19 Addictive French Cartoons to Make Learning French Fun
Remember Saturday morning cartoons when you were a kid?
What if I told you that you could discover cartoons all over again and learn French while you’re at it?
Maybe you’ve been studying French for a while now—you’ve listened to French songs, maybe even a radio broadcast or two, but you’re looking to change things up a bit.
Look no further than French cartoons.
- Original French Cartoons
- 1. “Titeuf” (“Tootuff”)
- 2. “Corneil et Bernie” (“Corneil and Bernie”)
- 3. “Astérix” (“Asterix”)
- 4. “Les Zinzins de l’espace” (“Space Goofs”)
- 5. “Les Malheurs de Sophie” (“Sophie’s Misfortunes”)
- 6. “Les Aventures de Tintin” (“The Adventures of Tintin”)
- 7. “Miraculous, Les aventures de Ladybug et Chat Noir” (“Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir”)
- 8. “Trotro” (“Trotro”)
- 9. “Le Petit Nicolas” (“Little Nicholas”)
- 10. “Les Schtroumpfs” (“The Smurfs”)
- 11. “Georges le petit curieux” (“Curious George”)
- Recent Cartoons Translated into French
- Classic Cartoons Translated into French
- How to Get the Most out of French Cartoons
- Where to Find French Cartoons
- Why Learn French with French Cartoons?
- And one more thing...
Original French Cartoons
1. “Titeuf” (“Tootuff”)
“Titeuf” is a popular Swiss franchise that was spun into a cartoon series in France.
This classic coming-of-age tale follows the adventures of Titeuf (a corruption of p’tit œuf, or “little egg,” because his head is shaped like an egg) and his friends Manu, Hugo and François as they navigate their murky preteen years.
One of the more profound series geared toward children, the characters aren’t afraid to approach subjects such as seduction and crushes, but never in a way that would cause offense.
Titeuf is also known for his heavy use of jargon, providing viewers a solid exposure to French slang.
2. “Corneil et Bernie” (“Corneil and Bernie”)
This series tells the story of Corneil, a genius talking dog who hides his intelligence to protect his pampered life, and Bernie, an unwitting dog sitter who discovers Corneil’s secret.
Although they argue often, they become the best of friends. Unfortunately for Corneil, Bernie often gets into situations that risk exposing Corneil’s secret.
This is one of the few French cartoons to be translated into English and broadcast in North America. That makes it easy to check your understanding, by checking the French-language version against the English-language one.
The series is still in production and is widely available online, including on YouTube.
3. “Astérix” (“Asterix”)
To understand a language, one must understand a culture, and no cartoon has had a larger cultural impact on France than “Astérix.”
The Gaulish warrior Astérix strives incessantly to protect his village from Julius Caesar, foiling Caesar’s plans with his intelligence and a magic potion that temporarily gives him superhuman strength. He’s accompanied on his adventures by his friend Obélix and his dog Idéfix.
Originally a comic series, “Astérix” was subsequently expanded into a media franchise that includes video games, merchandise and several feature-length films. Although “Astérix” was never adapted into an animated series, the franchise is known by most French children.
4. “Les Zinzins de l’espace” (“Space Goofs”)
Besides being one of the more prolific series (with 104 episodes), “Les Zinzins de l’espace” will seem familiar to American viewers thanks to its “Ren and Stimpy”-esque hijinks. It’s fittingly called “Space Goofs” in English.
Five aliens crash land on Earth and hide in the attic of a rental house while coming up with harebrained schemes to return to their home planet, always with disastrous consequences.
Their situation is complicated by the array of human tenants who shuffle through the lower floor, forcing them to use their “SMTV” (“Super-Méga-Trans-Volteur”) to take the form of innocuous Earth life.
With animation reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons and a variety of French accents, “Les Zinzins de l’espace” serves as a great starter series. The show’s official YouTube channel has plenty of content available to watch for free!
5. “Les Malheurs de Sophie” (“Sophie’s Misfortunes”)
If you want proof that cartoons are works of art, “Les Malheurs de Sophie” will provide it.
Adapted from the namesake novel by the Comtesse de Ségur and set in Normandy during the Second Empire, “Les Malheurs de Sophie” brings to television one of the most popular children’s stories of the 19th century.
Heroine Sophie de Réan, a little girl of roughly seven years, lives an idyllic life in her family’s castle with her mother and Paul, her cousin and best friend. With Paul and her friends Madeleine and Camille, she gets into all sorts of trouble.
As the series progresses, Sophie grows into a responsible adult while being subjected to sudden and unspeakable hardships. Seeing how this young heroine reacts in the face of adversity will warm your heart, and the exceptional animation and clearly-spoken, formal French makes “Les Malheurs de Sophie” a must-watch.
To get started, you can check out the series on YouTube.
6. “Les Aventures de Tintin” (“The Adventures of Tintin”)
This Belgian comic published in the French language has become a beloved cultural icon in France and Belgium alike, and in 1991 it was made into a full-length cartoon series.
Though originally recorded in English, this show, naturally, has a French-language version available.
“Les Aventures de Tintin” stars a Belgian reporter named Tintin who goes around the world, solving mysteries together with his dog Snowy. He’s often joined on his adventures by the gruff Captain Haddock, the genius Professeur Tournesol and the bumbling detectives Dupont and Dupond.
Tintin’s stories take him on fantastic journeys to places both real and fictional, where he takes down international smuggling rings, brings kidnappers to justice and uncovers long-lost treasures. His noble spirit and desire to do good make him an admirable hero, and you’ll be rooting for him in every episode.
The series can be difficult to find on streaming services in its French-language iteration, but if you want to preview it before committing to the DVD set, YouTube usually has several full-length episodes available.
7. “Miraculous, Les aventures de Ladybug et Chat Noir” (“Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir”)
If you spend time in cartoon or fandom circles, odds are you’ve heard about this recent smash hit.
“Miraculous” is the result of a collaboration between France and Japan (with a few other countries having ties to the project) and has received acclaim the world over.
Marinette and Adrien are a pair of French high school students who are tasked with saving Paris from Hawk Moth, who seeks to turn ordinary people into evil villains through creatures called Akuma.
They must do battle using powers they’ve received from magical jewels known as Miraculous, turning Marinette into the heroine Ladybug and Adrien into Chat Noir.
While both of them must keep their superhero identities secret, neither Marinette nor Adrien are aware of who the other really is—which makes things complicated, considering that Marinette has a big crush on Adrien!
This show is available on Disney Plus and Netflix with the French dialogue.
8. “Trotro” (“Trotro”)
Aimed at young children, this show features simple dialogue and situations, so definitely check it out if you’re just starting to dip your toes into French cartoons.
The adorable cartoon stars a five-year-old donkey named Trotro who goes around learning lessons and having adventures with his mom, dad and little sister.
With a lighthearted atmosphere and simple yet charming animation, Trotro prances around with his friends and family, speaking with a very natural childish vocabulary.
“Trotro” is also available to stream on Apple TV.
9. “Le Petit Nicolas” (“Little Nicholas”)
Many students of French learn from this children’s book series. But did you know that it’s been adapted into a cartoon as well?
“Le Petit Nicolas” is extremely popular among young French children, with its very own YouTube channel, to boot!
The story revolves around Nicolas, a rambunctious elementary schooler, and his life at school in 1960s France. Many childish schoolyard terms are used and the stories frequently focus on how children interpret the adult world around them.
Nicolas’s humorous adventures with his friends are sure to charm you, with simple vocabulary that will keep you engaged along with stunning visuals.
10. “Les Schtroumpfs” (“The Smurfs”)
If you thought this was an American classic, think again! It was actually created by Belgian illustrator Peyo (Pierre Culliford) and first aired in the French language.
Les Schtroumpfs is a charming animated series following the small, blue, and good-natured creatures known as Smurfs, led by Papa Smurf. Living in mushroom-shaped houses in the magical Smurf village, they often thwart the villainous Gargamel’s schemes.
The word schtroumpf doesn’t look at all French, and that’s because it’s not. It’s entirely made up. The word strumpf (similar-looking to schtroumpf) in German actually means “sock” (which is chaussette in French) but that was not the original intention behind it.
For more French Smurf trivia, here’s a list of translated Smurf names in both English and French. You can watch quite a few episodes on YouTube in French and also check out the reboot in French.
11. “Georges le petit curieux” (“Curious George”)
Here’s another toon that America mistakenly takes all the credit for. Originally written in French, “Georges le petit curieux“ initially missed out on European fame due to the rise of WWII.
It wasn’t until after the semi-successful children’s book “Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys” (“Rafi et les 9 Singes”) that German-Jewish writers H.A. and Margret Rey were commissioned to write another story focusing solely on the monkey George, who at the time was called Fifi—and who wasn’t considered the main character in this first book.
Now there are TV shows, movies and numerous books based on the little monkey and the Man with the Yellow Hat. There’s not much change in the translation other than the fact that George is a bit more petit (little), and more frequently described with this additional descriptive adjective.
You can find compilations of this show in French online, also on YouTube.
Recent Cartoons Translated into French
12. “Voltron, Le défenseur légendaire” (“Voltron: Legendary Defender”)
This popular Netflix original is a modern reimagining of the 1980s cartoon “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.”
Like many Netflix original programming, it’s available in French—simply change the audio language to French and start watching! The evil Galra Empire has been waging war across the galaxy in the name of conquest for millennia.
Voltron, a legendary robot, is the universe’s one hope at defense. However, it was separated into five lion robots that can only be piloted by the chosen Paladins, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
In the present day, five Earth space pilots—Shiro, Lance, Keith, Hunk and Pidge—uncover these robot lions, dragging them into the conflict. By learning to work together and combine their lions, they once again revive Voltron, Defender of the Universe. Now it’s up to them to stop the Galra Empire, once and for all!
13. “She-Ra et les Princesses au pouvoir” (“She-Ra and the Princess of Power”)
Though this cartoon is another Netflix remake of an 80s classic, this version of “She-Ra” takes the original “He-Man” spinoff in a whole new direction.
Adora is an orphan who was raised in the intergalactic empire known as the Horde. She’s been an enthusiastic Horde soldier for her entire life, but on the day she’s set to become captain of her own force, she encounters the mythical Sword of Protection.
Upon obtaining the sword, she realizes that the Horde is actually an evil army set on conquering the universe. Her entire life was a lie.
Alongside her new friends Bow and Glimmer, she sets out to destroy the Horde as the legendary She-Ra, Princess of Power.
14. “Avatar, Le dernier maître de l’air” (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”)
A good amount of Nickelodeon cartoons have been dubbed in French.
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is one of them and happens to have a great French voice cast! (Don’t believe us? Check it out on the Nickelodeon France YouTube channel!)
Long ago, the four nations of Earth, Water, Fire and Air lived in harmony. However, in order to spread its influence across the entire world, the Fire Nation launched an assault against the other three nations. The only one who can defeat them is the Avatar.
The Avatar is a 12-year-old boy named Aang who survived the Fire Nation genocide of the Air Nomads as a result of being frozen in a state of suspended animation within an iceberg. Now, Aang must travel with his friends Sokka and Katara to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation’s wrath.
Classic Cartoons Translated into French
15. “Les Pierrafeu” (“The Flintstones”)
Pierrafeu isn’t a real word in French—it’s part of a sentence, pierre à feu, “stone for fire.” Sort of like “Flintstones,” it’s a mumble-jumble of words crammed together to capture the spirit of a family of cave-dwelling people.
“The Flintstones” is a beloved animated sitcom from the 60s that humorously depicts the daily lives of prehistoric suburban couple Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble.
Set in the fictional town of Bedrock, the show cleverly combines modern elements with Stone Age technology, creating a comical combination of primitive and contemporary lifestyles.
So next time you’re in a conversation about cartoons, make sure you call the Flintstones les Pierrafeu—your language partner will be impressed!
16. “Bisounours” (“Care Bears”)
“Care Bears,” or “Bisounours,” is a heartwarming animated series featuring lovable, multicolored bears from the Kingdom of the Caring. Led by the nurturing leader, Tenderheart Bear, they use their magical “Care Bear Stare” to spread love and positivity.
Used in the French title, Bisou is the French word for “kiss,” a common way les Français physically express saying “goodbye” and “hello” to each other.
Maybe that’s why it’s translated as “kiss teddy bears,” bisou-nours, instead of literally soin-ours, “Care Bears.” Plus, the word “care” in French is a complex one, which is why it may not have translated well for the title “Care Bears.”
You can also find some episodes of the new version of the cartoon in French on YouTube. Just keep in mind that if you’re in Quebec, this cartoon is known as “Calinours” or “cuddle-bears.”
17. “Titi et Grosminet” (“Tweety and Sylvester”)
“Titi et Grosminet” is a timeless animated series chronicling the comedic rivalry between a quick-witted canary and a cat who’s always plotting to catch him.
Filled with laughs, clever escapes, and classic humor, the show captures the enduring charm of their cat-and-bird chase that has entertained audiences for decades.
If you’re guessing that titi is the sound birds make in French, like “tweet-tweet,” nice try. These sounds would actually be more like cui, cui. Titi just looks as if it could be the most sound-fitting word for this translated name change.
And Grosminet, you might ask? It translates to a fat (gros) cat (minet). In case you’re unfamiliar with this vocabulary, minet is another word for “cat.”
You can find quite a few episodes on YouTube in French.
18. “Bip Bip et Coyote” (“Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner”)
This is another classic Looney Tunes series featuring the never-ending pursuit of Wile E. Coyote to catch the speedy Road Runner.
Remember being a child and not knowing Road Runner’s real name? You’d be lying if you didn’t call him the sound he makes while running away from Coyote—”beep, beep.”
Well, that’s exactly how the French have decided to keep him named! Because to be honest, Le Grand Géocoucou (The Road Runner), which is what the French literally call this type of animal, isn’t as easy to say as Bip Bip.
There isn’t much of an exchange of words between them, but it’s fun to see how they translate the narration that’s normally absent in English.
19. “Snoopy et les Peanuts” (“The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show”)
Charlie Brown and Peanuts depict the endearing struggles of a group of friends, led by the earnest but luckless Charlie Brown. Created by Charles Schulz, this timeless cartoon explores life’s humor and heart.
Unless you’re talking to a true French fan, the younger crowd might not actually know who “Charlie Brown” is. To the French, Snoopy is the star of the famous comic strip, which is why it’s called Snoopy et les Peanuts or sometimes simply Snoopy.
As of 2014, the French have decided to officially recreate the entire “Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show” series in their own language, which you can find on YouTube. It’s a great way to start learning French through cartoons.
Another final fun fact: It’s believed that the name for Charlie Hebdo was inspired by Charlie Brown. I totally didn’t see that coming!
How to Get the Most out of French Cartoons
Hopefully, by now you’re excited about watching French cartoons, but how can you actually learn from them?
Start with familiar English-language cartoons dubbed in French
First, look for dubbed versions of anglophone cartoons you enjoy. And believe me, many exist. For example, can you translate “Bob l’éponge”? (That would be “SpongeBob SquarePants.”) How about “Les Razmoket”? (“Rugrats.”)
If you already know the plot, it’s easier to understand the French version because you know what’s going on. What’s more, content is usually dubbed in simplified French so that the meaning is preserved.
Another advantage of dubbed programming, in my experience, is that there are only a few French voice actors who dub most of the anglophone content. So if you understand these particular people, you’re golden.
When you’re ready, you can move on to actual French cartoons.
Use French subtitles wisely
When used judiciously, the subtitles included in most DVDs are useful for listening comprehension, but overuse can slow your progress. When the subtitles are on, you can end up relying on them instead of letting your listening muscles do the work!
When I’m studying a language with videos, I replay passages I don’t understand several times, and if I absolutely can’t understand what’s being said, then I’ll turn on subtitles.
English subtitles are, thus, a tool of last resort. If you can avoid them, do so.
Instead, you can start watching French cartoons with French subtitles enabled and read along, then turn them off and re-listen. This might be more useful if you’re a beginner. If there’s a French word I’m still not getting, I can do a quick Google search to find the definition and get a better understanding of it.
This multi-layered approach not only familiarizes your ears with the sounds of the French language, but it helps you improve your French reading skills, as well.
Commit to intensive studying
The fastest way to learn through French cartoons would be to study them intensively. What this means is looking up every word that you don’t understand and adding that intentionally to your vocabulary.
For example, you might make flashcards for new words and then review these with spaced repetition. To train your listening, you can also keep replaying a scene until you’re picking up all of the words.
This is great for getting a better grasp of conversational French, but depending on your level, it can take a while to unpack even a few minutes of a cartoon! Plus a lot of French videos online have automated subtitles that can be inaccurate (YouTube, I love you, but this applies to you).
It’s actually a pretty universal experience, so as a language learning program, FluentU tackles this by making cartoon clips and other online videos more accessible for French learners.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Where to Find French Cartoons
Most of the links to buy DVDs in this post are to Amazon.com, with a few to Amazon.fr. Besides Amazon, there are other great French DVD sites you can use, like fnac and Cdiscount.
Whatever you do, check into regional information before buying DVDs to make sure they’ll actually work in your player.
I haven’t had problems getting French products delivered to North America, but some items can either only be delivered in France or are prohibitively expensive. In these cases, your best bet is to look for the content on YouTube or to find used DVDs on Ebay.fr.
And of course, always check streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV to see if there are French options there. You can always try with a VPN as well.
Why Learn French with French Cartoons?
To give you some added motivation, here are major reasons why French cartoons are worth studying with (given all of the interesting French media out there).
They’re easy to understand
There’s something in between the five-minute clips your French teacher showed in class and full-on movies.
Often overlooked by French teachers as a learning material, French cartoons are a step up in difficulty from small clips or audio specifically made for learners, while still being much easier to understand than your average French movie.
Cartoons are recorded in noise-free studios by professional voice actors. This means no background noises or muffled speaking that makes just hearing the dialogue a struggle, not to mention trying to understand it!
Watching a cartoon is like listening to someone next to you in an otherwise quiet room. You’ll be amazed at the ease with which you can follow 30 minutes to an hour of content while still training your brain to stay in “French mode” for extended periods.
They teach you children’s vocabulary
Just because cartoons are easier to understand than movies doesn’t mean you aren’t learning anything.
Children and youth, the target audiences of cartoons, often don’t speak “textbook” French, and cartoons reflect that. Youth have their own slang (obviously), but did you know that even young French children have their own set of vocabulary?
Here are a few examples:
dodo ( sommeil ) — sleep
joujou ( jouet ) — toy
nounours ( ours en peluche ) — teddy bear
Such words are used frequently in cartoons, so it’s good to commit them to memory.
They help you understand French culture and slang
To really learn French, you have to look beyond the textbook and into the real world. French cartoons offer a window into French culture, as they show you how people actually use the language.
Cartoons also often reflect the way the younger generation is changing language. When I come across a slang term I don’t understand in a cartoon, I look it up on a reference website. This is an excellent way to make sure your skills don’t grow stale as the language evolves.
The cartoons I mention represent only a tiny fraction of the robust French animation heritage, along with other cartoons that have been translated into French.
Whether they offer exposure to classical literature or a better understanding of how children speak, cartoons are surprisingly useful to aspiring French speakers. (And if you’re ready for a bigger challenge, check out this post with our top picks for French animated films.)
French subtitles make cartoons accessible to beginners and are a tool for fine-tuning listening comprehension for advanced speakers.
By not relying too heavily on them, soon you won’t even need subtitles to enjoy the high-quality animation France has to offer!
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:
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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.
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