11 Well-known French Movies with Subtitles to Improve Your French Skills
You may already know that there are tons of movies and TV shows online with English audio and les sous-titres français (French subtitles).
But guess what? There are also numerous French movies with English subtitles.
In this post, we’ll show you 11 great French movies with subtitles that are available on various streaming platforms.
- 1. “La môme”
- 2. “Les Lyonnais”
- 3. “Tokyo Fiancée”
- 4. “Divines”
- 5. “À bout de souffle”
- 6. “La vie d’Adèle”
- 7. “Un prophète”
- 8. “Bande de filles”
- 9. “Paris je t’aime”
- 10. “Les emotifs anonymes”
- 11. “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis”
- How Do French Movies with Subtitles Help You Learn?
- Tips for Watching French Movies with Subtitles
- And one more thing...
1. “La môme”
English title: “La Vie en Rose”
Available: Prime Video | Apple TV | Google Play
“La Vie en Rose” (which literally translates to “Life in Pink”) tells the story of Piaf, also known as La Môme Piaf or the Little Sparrow, and her hard life.
Piaf was born in Paris in 1915. Her mother was an alcoholic singer who abandoned her in the street. Her father was a circus worker who used her in his shows.
She would be discovered later on singing in the streets at the age of 19, thanks to which she gained notoriety and fame, but chaos would always be a part of her life.
2. “Les Lyonnais”
English Title: “A Gang Story”
Based on the autobiography of the main character, “A Gang Story” follows the two men who formed a real, well-known gang in the 1970s, known as the Les Lyonnais, beginning with an arrest for stealing cherries.
The former head of the gang, Edmond “Momon” Vidal has left a life of crime behind and is settling into retirement with his family, when he’s approached with the request to break his old friend and partner, Serge Suttel, out of prison.
It’s a raw and intense film and will introduce you to vocabulary related to crime and gangs.
3. “Tokyo Fiancée”
English Title: “Tokyo Fiancée”
Available: Apple TV | Google Play
A romantic drama, “Tokyo Fiancée” teaches viewers about both Belgian and Japanese cultures. A Belgian girl named Amélie travels to Tokyo and falls in love with a Japanese man, Rinri, who speaks French.
The main actress, Pauline Etienne, is Belgian. This film can be useful for getting acclimated to the Belgian accent.
In the film, Amélie gives French lessons to Rinri. His French is pretty shaky at the beginning, so she frequently teaches him small, useful phrases and terms. You may find these words helpful, too!
English Title: “Divines”
“Divines” is a Netflix original movie that’s now considered a classic French coming-of-age film. A poor girl named Dounia tries to earn extra money, and her primary way of doing so is by working for a drug dealer.
Watching this movie with subtitles is helpful because there are several points that can be difficult to understand.
Not only do Dounia and her friends speak quickly, but they also often whisper and use Parisian slang, which can be difficult to interpret correctly if you aren’t used to it.
5. “À bout de souffle”
English Title: “Breathless”
Available: Prime Video | Apple TV
So, in the 1960s, the French were obsessed with American gangster films. Case in point: this movie. It will show you, via unexpected jump cuts and other filmmaking oddities, what Jean Luc Godard means to French culture.
As a plus, the female lead, American actress Jean Seberg, speaks French slow enough that you’ll catch every word and end up feeling very, very fluent.
See how many scenes you can watch without looking at the English subtitles! This is a great one for any beginners out there.
6. “La vie d’Adèle”
English Title: “Blue is the Warmest Color”
Available: Amazon Prime | Apple TV
This 2013 film won la Palme D’Or, the highest award at le festival de Cannes (the Cannes Film Festival), which should tell you that it’s great and also somewhat unique.
The film follows 15-year-old Adèle who falls for a blue-haired young woman named Emma and the story takes places over several years. She experiences love, heartbreak and the transformation that comes with first love.
Being a coming-of-age drama, this will show you how the teens talk these days, while supplying a heady amount of drama to reenact from your couch while Netflixing and chilling.
7. “Un prophète”
English Title: “A Prophet”
Available: Amazon Prime | Apple TV | Google Play
About the movie:
“Un prophète” tells the story of 19-year-old Malik El Djebena, who’s sentenced to six years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit.
He can’t read or write, and due to his hard life without any friends or family to rely on, he’s mistrustful yet wise.
In prison, he’s noticed by both the Corsican and Muslim gangs. Amid the environment of violence and corruption, Malik just wants to finish his sentence, get out of prison and live his own life.
He tries to stay away from the arguments between both groups but eventually must connect with some dangerous people in order to survive.
8. “Bande de filles”
English Title: “Girlhood”
Available: Amazon Prime | Apple TV
A beautifully artful, modern French film, “Bande de filles,” is a coming-of-age story of a teenager outside of Paris who joins an all-girl gang, hoping to find a sense of freedom.
This movie is filled to the brim with French slang for you to try on, showing a slice of French society you don’t always get to study in a classroom setting: African-French female gangs.
If you’re a film lover, the cinematography will knock your socks clean off. If not, you’ll still get a chance to learn a little more about how real people talk in urban France.
9. “Paris je t’aime”
English Title: “Paris, I Love You”
Available: Amazon Prime | Apple TV
Here’s a mish-mash of short films taking place in France in French, by a slew of international filmmakers.
“Paris, je t’aime” will give you a variety of different characters with different emotions to mimic, and thus, a ton of new colloquialisms from every area of French society.
You can also work with this film by breaking your sessions into pieces—try watching one a day for a week. This one is also great for beginners, because there is some English sprinkled throughout as well.
10. “Les emotifs anonymes”
English Title: “Romantics Anonymous”
Available: Amazon Prime | TUBI
This is a romantic comedy about two adorable individuals who are made for each other but too shy to talk about it.
This is a great one because it’s simple enough that you can probably get through a few scenes without looking at the subtitles, and it’s so engaging that you’ll want to keep watching.
Sometimes the simpler films are best to get your practice in because they’re easier to follow and you can truly focus on your pronunciation.
11. “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis”
English Title: “Welcome to the Sticks”
Available: Amazon Prime | Apple TV
“Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” shows, in a hilarious way, the diversity between the different regions in France.
The movie centers on Philippe, who tries to get transferred to the French Riveria so he can move there with his family—and thus help his wife recover from depression.
However, this is a lot harder than expected and things start to go wrong. Ultimately, his superiors don’t fire him. Instead, they send him to Bergues, a small town in the north of France. Could there be a worse punishment?
This region is known for its hard winters and the residents are stereotyped as hard-drinking and ignorant people. However, Philippe soon realizes that he was afraid of prejudices and that his new life isn’t so bad.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
How Do French Movies with Subtitles Help You Learn?
- You’ll improve your listening skills. You’ll hear native speakers talking at their natural speed—that is to say, quickly. You’ll also listen to native French speakers converse in authentic accents, so you’ll learn to understand people from across France and other French-speaking countries/regions.
- It’s an entertaining way to learn. If you don’t find stimulating ways to learn French, you probably aren’t going to stay motivated. Watching films is a much more fun way to learn than completing your French class homework or flipping through your flashcards—again.
- You’ll learn slang. Learning from a textbook teaches you valuable phrases, but there are some expressions you can only learn by tuning into how Francophones actually speak. And, of course, you’ll pick up those ever-hilarious French curse words!
- You’ll learn about French culture. When you watch French films, you’re exposed to the culture, perspective and mores of the people who speak the language. While it can be helpful to watch English movies you’re already familiar with in French, you won’t learn anything about French culture in the process!
Tips for Watching French Movies with Subtitles
- Choose the genre you’re interested in. Remember, to stay motivated, it’s important to have fun watching a movie! Choose a genre that interests you and you’ll be more likely to sit through the entire film and engage.
- Don’t be afraid to rewind. If you hear a word you don’t recognize, or if you have trouble following the story, swallow your pride and rewind. This isn’t a race. Your real goal is language acquisition, so take your time and enjoy the process.
- Take notes. Taking notes plays a huge role in students’ learning. Jot down any words you want to look up later or any helpful vocabulary you want to remember. This will help you capture any new words so you can practice them later.
- Forget grammar (just this once). French movies have a different lesson for you. This is all about pronunciation, colloquial phrases and immersion. If you take this no-grammar practice time seriously, letting go of the need to speak correctly every second can make you braver in your French.
- Go sans sous-titres (without subtitles) for a few minutes. How long can you last? Try pushing your limits. You’ll learn to grasp at the words you do know and contextualize. You’ll also realize how much you’ll understand, thanks to expressions, gestures and context—which is oddly comforting.
- Use the English subtitles. Repeating phrases while seeing what they mean in the English subtitles is a perfect combination for learning. Keep in mind that subtitles can at times be a bit imprecise, and they’re more meant to give you the gist of things rather than a perfect translation.
So there you have it! Once you’ve chosen a movie to watch, you’ve taken the first step toward mastering the French language from your couch.
If you make it through these, you can check out some of the best films for French learners next.
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.
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.