6 French Search Engines for Authentic Gallic Web Search
How do you explore le Web like a native French speaker?
With French search engines of course.
Read this post to find out the six most useful French search engines, and then you decide which one will best fit your Gallic research interests. We’ll also tell you how to choose French language websites and change your language preference to French.
- Authentic French Search Engines
- Web Domains in the French-speaking World
Authentic French Search Engines
Founded in 2013, Qwant, a French-based search engine, competes with Google in French language web search.
Its standout feature is privacy and not storing your browsing history like Google does for targeted ads. This tracking can be handy for returning to recent sites or auto-completing web addresses but compromises privacy.
For French learners, Qwant favors French results when you type in French, and a flag option ensures results from French-speaking countries. It offers a “Social” results box showing real French Twitter conversations on your topic. You can also search for news, images and videos on the left side after your initial search.
Exalead is a French search engine geared towards businesses.
This means that Exalead features advanced filters based on language (another simple way to ensure you get French sites as results), file type and category (“arts,” “science,” “reference” and more).
What exactly does that mean for French learners? Exalead can be an asset for more scholarly or intellectual search topics, such as a French author or other historical figure.
A search engine like Qwant is more general and can be used for a variety of queries for more everyday usage.
Exalead, however, has tools to help you refine a search and find a more specific kind of resource in French.
Orange was not originally founded to be a search engine, however Orange’s homepage is often used by French people as a search engine. The layout is similar to Yahoo’s main search page and features news articles, advertisements and entertainment, as well as a search box.
Although Orange’s search feature is basic and is actually powered by Google (you will still likely get French results, provided you type in French), it is widely used in France and is an option for research.
In any case, the homepage acts as a good springboard for authentic French content.
You can easily browse current news, tabloid articles, videos, music and more.
Even the ads can be helpful for a French learner. They may not be the most exciting material, but they offer a chance to practice numbers, currency and imperatives such as: Achetez maintenant! (Buy now!)
What makes Xooloo unique is that it is designed for kids. However, that does not mean that it is only good for young French learners.
In any language, children’s books, shows and content tend to feature simpler words and style. Thus, Xooloo might offer less intimidating practice for beginner or lower intermediate learners.
Furthermore, you are not likely to get overwhelmed by results on this French search engine. Since it is designed to be kid-friendly, Xooloo will only display results that have been reviewed for relevance and safety.
Xooloo is not only useful for basic searching and reading practice. The Xooloo main page also functions as a portal to various activités (activities), which can offer an engaging language experience.
Lilo is another private French search engine, but it has one very unique feature.
Lilo donates 50% of their ad revenue to various causes and you get to choose which you wish to support.
Every search you do generates a virtual goutte d’eau (drop of water). As your drops accumulate, you may choose the organization you want that profit to go to.
Do not worry. Lilo is still free to use. The profit comes from ads posted on sites you visit.
The possible charities span environmental, social and health or education causes. Within these categories, there are dozens of organizations to choose from. You are sure to find something you care about.
6. French Google
Sure, you could just type a French word, question or phrase into your regular English Google search bar and you would probably get some results in French. You could even change your language and region search settings in Google to French.
But using French Google (with the .fr ending) is the best choice. One notable benefit is that it can expand your vocabulary with image searches. Connecting a French word to an image, as opposed to simply an English equivalent, is always a more natural way to study vocabulary.
Since Google is the world leader in web search and intuitive to use, you can’t go wrong with this choice.
Web Domains in the French-speaking World
Sure, using authentic French websites sounds like a good idea, but how can you really know if a given site is actually operated in a French-speaking region or simply a site that has been translated into French?
There is a good chance that most of the websites you visit end in .com. Others might end in .net, .org or .gov.
The letters at the end are technically called “top level domains.” Just as .org tells you the site is for a nonprofit or other organization and .gov tells you the site is run by the U.S. government, international top level domains can tell you the country in which the site is operated.
Here are the top level domains from several French-speaking countries:
- .fr (France)
- .be (Belgium)
- .ca (Canada)
- .ch (Switzerland)
- .ci (Ivory Coast)
- .ma (Morocco)
Switching everyday items into French alternatives (search engines and otherwise) is a key part of the immersion method of language learning. Essentially, immersion means that you’re surrounding yourself with your target language so that it becomes part of your daily life.
Despite being deceptively simple to carry out, the strategy is quite powerful. In fact, some language learning programs also utilize the immersion strategy. One example is FluentU, which takes authentic French videos and combines them with interactive tools so that you can learn the language and bits of French culture in context.
Now you know how to stroll (scroll?) through the French-speaking web like a native.
Knowing how to find good resources yourself is a key skill as you advance in the language.
So whether you wish to do an in-depth search, play educational activities or support a worthy cause, with these French search engines you now know how to do it Gallic-style.