11 Shows and Movies with French Subtitles on Netflix
Ready for a guilt-free binge-watching session, assisted by French subtitles?
You should be, because language researchers know that watching TV and movies works very well for learning a language.
Maybe it’s time to turn Netflix into your favorite new French learning tool.
In this post, you’ll get some recommendations for both English and French language shows and movies on Netflix with French subtitles.
Grab the popcorn! All but two (noted below) of the movies and shows on this list come with French audio on Netflix as well.
- Netflix Series with French Subtitles
- Movies Available on Netflix with French Subtitles
- How to Learn with French Subtitles
- Tips for Learning with Subtitles
- And one more thing...
Netflix Series with French Subtitles
1. “Emily in Paris”
“Emily in Paris” is many peoples’ guilty pleasure, but I say it’s a genuinely great show. The show follows 25-year-old Emily, an American expat who has moved to Paris to work at a public relations firm.
She doesn’t really speak French and she tends to get herself into social trouble with alarming frequency, but somehow she manages to be charming almost all the time. She also has an amazing wardrobe and she’s great at her job.
2. “The Parisian Agency”
Real estate reality shows have been popular for years, so why not indulge in the French version? It gives you a chance to see some incredible apartments and houses in Paris, and you’ll get caught up with the real estate buying and dealing drama as you’re learning French.
If you like reality shows, this should be top on your list.
3. “Dix pour cent” (“Ten Percent”) [English title: “Call My Agent!”]
This hilarious and popular French language comedy focuses on a high-powered entertainment agency that represents not only French actors, but also American ones. There are also some killer cameos, including from Sigourney Weaver and Charlotte Gainsborough among others.
It’s similar in tone and subject to the Ricky Gervais show “Extras,” but it has an extra funny and peculiar French sense of humor that will keep you watching episode after episode.
4. “The Hook Up Plan”
This fun French language show follows Elsa, who’s on the verge of turning 30. Freaking out by the fact that she’s aging and single, and still deeply hung up on her ex-boyfriend, she hires a male escort in hope of shaking things up in her life.
Needless to say, the plan works, and luckily for us, the show is not only funny, but also quite charming and romantic.
5. “Ever After High”
Based in a school setting, this animated series features your classic high school drama with basic vocabulary surrounding daily activities. Geared more toward children, it’s a great way to learn foundational vocabulary.
6. “House of Cards”
This political drama series set in Washington D.C. is best suited for those looking to develop French skills for the political or business arenas. This series can get complicated in plot and in language used, especially amid power struggles and moral conflicts, so you may find yourself re-watching scenes to catch French subtitles you missed the first time—but the dramatic plot makes it worth it!
Set in the French city of Marseille, this is basically the French version of “House of Cards.” If you’re interested in learning more about French culture, politics and government, this is the series to watch.
It does get technical and move quickly, but you’ll find lots of idiosyncratic French expressions, facial expressions and gestures… which are equally useful for communicating in French!
8. “Orange Is the New Black”
Moving at a slightly quicker pace, and with lots of slang, this series is likely more suited for advanced French learners. The vocabulary can be very idiosyncratic, and the plot can sometimes be challenging to follow (even in English!). Nonetheless, it’s a great resource for picking up vocabulary for contemporary conversational French.
9. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
This is the saga of a young woman living her life after being unearthed from a bunker in the ground where she and others had been kidnapped. Doesn’t sound like the plot to a comedy, but it is, due to Kimmy Schmidt’s “unbreakable” spirit and her crazy cast of friends. This show offers fairly easy vocabulary, but does have a quicker pace at times with lots of funny quips!
Movies Available on Netflix with French Subtitles
10. “Le Voyage au Groenland” (“Journey to Greenland”)
“Journey to Greenland” is about two Parisians who travel to a remote village while also navigating challenges in their relationship. This film offers a funny and insightful look at French customs and how to express an array of emotions in a strange place.
11. “Marie Antoinette”
This story takes the classic biography of Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the Revolution, but this movie presents it in a modern style, with a super cool soundtrack, rich costumes and some really amazing actors. Think Kirsten Dunst and Northern Irish sex symbol Jamie Dornan.
Adding to all that, you’ll also get to learn about what’s probably the most famous historical event in French history: the Revolution of 1789.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
How to Learn with French Subtitles
Netflix isn’t necessarily renowned for its educational value. For most of us, Netflix is the perfect way to relax and let our minds wander. But watching movies and shows subtitled in French can have a number of benefits for language learners:
- You can watch what you want. Unlike learning with assignments or structured courses—though those are valuable in their own right—when we make a choice to watch something that we personally find intriguing or relatable, we’re typically more likely to stay focused from beginning to end.
- The visuals keep you engaged. Humans are visual beings. It’s easy for us to get immersed in the stories we see on Netflix—and in fact, research has shown that learning with visuals helps us remember information.
- You’ll diversify your vocabulary. You can explore all sorts of genres on Netflix that’ll expose you to a wide range of new vocabulary and speaking styles.
- French will become part of your daily life. When you opt to incorporate French into your daily activities (yes, you’re not the only one who watches Netflix every night before bed!), you’ll be making a habit of practicing the language and boosting your comprehension skills without adding any extra commitments to your schedule.
So how does this work? Read here to see that this type of learning is scientifically proven. Our brain works in amazing ways, and even if it doesn’t feel like you’re learning while watching these movies, you’ll be thinking more en français (in French) than you may realize.
- You’ll get better at recognizing common French words and phrases. Again, we’re visual learners, so seeing common words flash on the screen repeatedly but in different contexts will help drill them in. This is especially relevant for French learners, since it can be so difficult to distinguish words between all those liaisons and silent letters.
- You’ll practice understanding French using context clues. This is especially true if you’ve also got the French audio turned on (highly recommended!). Immersed in French sound and subtitles, you’ll have to listen and read closely to figure out what unfamiliar words mean in context. Don’t be afraid to pause and re-watch tricky scenes using this method—it’ll help the new words stick in your memory much better than if you just translate to your native language and keep going.
- It’s a pretty addictive way to learn. Let’s face it, we all love Netflix because it’s endlessly entertaining. Getting drawn into the story and feeling both your listening and reading comprehension skills grow isn’t just fun, it’s rewarding. Soon enough, you’ll be hungry for more subtitled French movies wherever you can find them!
Tips for Learning with Subtitles
Watching with French subtitles and soaking it all up is one thing, but taking it a little more seriously can make all the difference in your progress with the French language. Be intentional about your learning:
- Select your theme. Try to pick movies and shows that’ll expose you to the types of language you need help with. Maybe the past tense is hard for you, so you can choose a film with a story in the past that’s told from the present.
- Pace yourself. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t max out your brain with a series chock-full of lightning-speed banter and sarcastic jokes. Different movies and series have different paces of spoken language. Documentaries are generally more about understanding the science or appreciating the imagery and are typically narrated at an easy pace. Sitcoms are fast-paced and overflowing with idiosyncratic language.
- Rewind, replay, pause. Don’t be afraid to use commands available on Netflix. You’re not in a movie theater, so take advantage of the pause button to read a subtitle, or rewind a bit to catch a word you’d never heard before. We even do this in our native language sometimes, when we’ve missed an important detail. Listen to your gut when you feel inclined to replay, re-watch, re-read or re-listen.
- Keep a notebook handy. Or a note on your computer, phone, napkin, newspaper—anything! Writing things down has been shown to help students process and remember new information. The likelihood of you remembering—and using in context—a word or phrase that you’ve written down is much higher than if you hadn’t.
Watching Netflix with French subtitles is basically like a pick-your-own-adventure lesson. Either way you spin it, having French subtitles on while you watch your favorite show makes it no-shame Netflix marathon.
With enough French-subtitled Netflix under your belt, your motivation to learn will take off and you’ll get to sit down and chomp popcorn while your skills improve.
Once you’ve made it through this list, check out some of these excellent movies for French learners for more language practice and entertainment.
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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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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