Already learning French with movies?
Amp up your learning with French TV series, too!
After all, there’s no better way to learn common French idioms or everyday French phrases.
In this post, you’ll discover 23 amazing French TV Series on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube that’ll boost your learning in no time.
With such a huge selection of amazing shows, you’re sure to find a French series (or five) that’s perfect for you!
Why Learn French Through TV Series?
Let’s face it: French isn’t an easy language to learn for beginners, especially because of its pronunciation and complex grammar rules.
By watching French TV shows, you can pick up the pronunciation of French words and increase your vocabulary, as well.
You’ll also get in direct contact with how French sounds when used by native speakers in a lot of situations, which will help you get conversational more quickly and easily.
Speaking of pronunciation, native speakers and conversations, another way you can perfect your accent is by watching FluentU videos.
Ready? Here’s a list of the top 23 shows to learn French (updated in 2021), which is guaranteed to be useful for any French learner, regardless of their level of proficiency.
23 Best French TV Series on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube in 2021
French Shows to Watch on Netflix
1. “Dix pour cent” (“Call My Agent!”)
If you’ve never heard of “Dix pour cent,” you have my permission to stop reading and go check it out.
This superb dramedy (drama + comedy) is the perfect example of how witty writing, good acting and the city of Paris are enough to hit the Netflix jackpot.
The series depicts the daily lives of four rather incompetent film agents who’d do everything in their power to make their clients happy… while profiting from them (the French title is translated as “Ten percent,” which is the cut the agents get).
While possibly trying to mock the role of the real film agent, the writers of the show didn’t realize this series would actually make their main characters so interesting.
The issue is that these agents have chaotic personal lives, workplace conflicts and crazy meetings—something many of us can relate to. Add to that mix real Hollywood actors (like Juliette Binoche or Sigourney Weaver) who pretend to be their clients on occasional guest appearances, and you get one of the most hilarious and authentic shows you’ll find on the platform.
We remain in Paris for a bit longer, because “Lupin” also takes place in the French capital.
Imagine a Senegalese Sherlock Holmes turned James Bond turned gentleman thief Lupin. That’s Assane Diop, the main character of a show that snagged the position of the most-watched series on Netflix in the first quarter of 2021.
Assane has a thirst for vengeance that goes back to when he was a child. But he’s also charming and skillful, and you’d never guess he’s planning a heist at the Louvre.
His goal? Stealing Marie Antoinette’s necklace. That’s all I’m telling you.
And don’t worry, I also felt kind of guilty rooting for him while binge-watching the whole series in one day.
3. “Au service de la France” (“A Very Secret Service”)
If you like spy movies with a twist, you’re in for a treat, because this dramedy has spy drama parody written all over it.
We remain in Paris, but this time we travel to the ’60s to follow the adventures of André Merlaux, who’s been hired by the French Secret Services as a trainee officer.
The series offers a parodic view of a time when France was a Great Power already in crisis. It shows the political and social changes the country is undergoing and it tackles the topic of France’s bad relationship with other countries.
Even though the show is obviously a parody of France’s situation during the Cold War era, the sociopolitical background is shown in a very accurate way, so this series is perfect if you want to know a bit more about French history while having a laugh.
4. “On va s’aimer un peu, beaucoup” (“Family Business”)
I love French comedies and that unique French sense of humor you either love or don’t quite get (and this series has plenty of both).
“Family Business” is a French comedy that tells the story of Joseph Hazan, an entrepreneur who decides to transform his father’s kosher butcher shop into a marijuana café.
In the series, France is about to make marijuana legal so Joseph, who’s not been very lucky business-wise, decides to take advantage of this and open a coffee shop with the help of his family and friends.
From that moment on, the Hazans embark on a series of shocking, hilarious and, many times, unfortunate events that make this show a rollercoaster you’ll never want to leave.
5. “Plan cœur” (“The Hook Up Plan”)
“The Hook Up Plan” is another French comedy series I binge-watched in one weekend.
The French title translates as “heart plan,” so you might be wondering why the show is called “The Hook Up Plan” in English.
The truth is that both titles fit perfectly into this hilariously raw comedy, and here’s why.
Elsa, the main character, is very close to turning 30. She’s still in love with her ex after two years, and her friends Charlotte and Emile together with her co-worker Chantal decide to hire a male escort named Jules to make her forget her ex-boyfriend.
The problem is that the plan to heal Elsa’s heart works so well that she starts getting feelings for Jules. Can you imagine what’d happen if he started to fall in love, as well? Big gasp!
6. “La forêt” (“The Forest”)
“The Forest” is a crime thriller miniseries that revolves around the disappearance of Jennifer, a teenage girl, in a forest.
Located in the Ardennes, the forest has been surrounded by mystery for years ever since a little girl came out of it.
The reason? Nobody knew her or where she’d come from.
During the years, the forest has also “taken” other girls, so a police investigation ensues right away in order to try to find Jennifer alive. As the investigation goes on, a lot of secrets and mysteries about the forest get uncovered, some of them worthy of having a whole spin-off for themselves.
I don’t want to spoil this nail-biting thriller for you, but I need to tell you this miniseries has nothing supernatural in it. It’s a classic drama thriller where everything has a human explanation.
The only question that remains is: What’s that explanation?
French Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime
7. “Les aventures de Tintin” (“The Adventures of Tintin”)
I’m sure all of us over 30 have read the Tintin comics at one point in our lives.
It’s a popular comic character that, contrary to popular belief, was created in Belgium, not France.
The series, called “Les aventures de Tintin,” will certainly help you re-live some of your childhood memories.
Created in 1991 from the comic book series “The Adventures of Tintin,” the series comes in the form of episodes that usually last for 45 minutes.
It’s currently being replayed on kids’ channels daily, but in some regions, you can watch the first season of this show online on Amazon Prime (though it’s currently not available in the US) and buy the DVDs of all three seasons on Amazon.
8. “Un village français” (“A French Village”)
“A French Village” depicts the story of (you’ve guessed it) a French village, the fictional village of Villeneuve.
It’s the year 1940 and the village has been invaded by Germany’s military forces. A lot of the villagers have been killed in the process, and Villeneuve is now under German occupation.
The series shows how the surviving inhabitants of the village have to cope with the new status quo, a situation that could be best described as “adapt, or else you won’t survive.”
If you like military dramas set during World War II that show more than just warfare games, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy this beautifully directed show.
9. “Les revenants” (“The Returned”)
I hadn’t heard about “The Returned” before starting to write this post, so when I read the plot summary on IMDb, I got chills running down my spine.
The last sentence of the summary states the show “is a homecoming like no other,” and boy did they get it right!
The series tells the story of a group of people who, after having been dead for years, return to their homes as if nothing had happened.
Their families and friends are obviously shocked, but they’re even more puzzled: They don’t remember having died.
This series is an opportunity to learn some French with a genre that isn’t easily available in this language, so if you’re a lover of thrillers, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.
10. “Le bureau des légendes” (The Bureau”)
There seems to be a boom of French Secret Services series going on, since “The Bureau” also tackles the topic.
This time, though, we have undercover agents whose lives are based upon the real stories of former French spies who had to carry out their missions in different cities around the world.
Their mission was mainly to gather intelligence sources and recruit them. Nothing special there.
But now that they have to come back to their country, they’re completely detached from their former lives and they struggle to go “back to normal.”
I recommend this show if you want to get to know a bit more about the topic of jihadism and how it’s become a real problem in France in recent years.
11. “Nicolas Le Floch”
If Sherlock Holmes and his inseparable friend Dr. Watson had lived in 18th-century France, they’d probably have gone by the names of Nicolas Le Floch and Bourdeau, respectively.
Get ready to travel to the Paris of Louis XV, where murder, plots against the crown and scandals are more common than having a bath.
This is the setting for the series “Nicolas Le Floch,” a show in which Police Commissioner Le Floch and Inspector Bourdeau try to solve crimes, unravel mysteries and deal with scandals in all echelons of Parisian society.
“Nicolas Le Floch” can be quite challenging for beginners and even intermediate learners of French, but the show is totally worth a watch for the intrigues, conspiracies and scandals included in it.
12. “Zone blanche” (“Black Spot”)
We have yet another forest on this list, this time located in Villefranche.
“Black Spot” tells the story of Major Weiss, who returns to Villefranche, her hometown, in order to figure out why the crime rate in this small town is over six times higher than France’s average.
Each chapter starts with a bang, featuring a new crime or abnormal event that needs to be solved.
Major Weiss will slowly realize many of these crimes seem to be related to the forest nearby. But when she starts to dig deeper, she quickly understands that she shouldn’t have opened Pandora’s box.
French Shows to Watch on Hulu
Hulu is not available in France, so the number of shows originally in French is close to zero.
I’ve included my favorite in this section, but if you want to make the most out of your French learning with Hulu, opt for French movies.
13. “Maison close” (“Brothel”)
We travel to Paris once again. It’s the year 1871, and three women are trapped in a luxury brothel (maison close translates as “brothel” in English).
The brothel is called “Paradise,” and the three women find themselves there for very different reasons, all of which make the name of the brothel quite ironic.
On the one hand, we have Hortense, the owner of the brothel. She exploits her girls, who owe her a huge sum of money. She doesn’t want to lose them, so she inflates their debt so that they never achieve freedom. In the meantime, Hortense herself is being extorted by a thug from the Parisian suburbs.
We also have Vera, who’s about to turn 35 and see her “career” come to an end. Without a job, she’ll be unable to pay her debt, so she puts all her hopes on Baron Du Plessis, the only client she has who could pay her debt.
Finally, we have Rose. She came to Paris to find her mother, who used to work in “Paradise.” Now, she’s trapped in the brothel and is forced to work for Hortense.
Because of the plot and the setting, this French drama series may seem too much for TV, but the show focuses mainly on the lives of the main characters and the dramatic situations they have to cope with rather than the obvious topic of working in a brothel.
French Shows to Watch on YouTube
14. “7 jours sur la planète” (“7 Days on the Planet”)
We can kill two birds with one stone because we can be kept updated with the latest trends in news and also practice our French at the same time by watching “7 Days on the Planet.”
This TV program provides a roundup of the latest news of the week, with a focus on the francophone (French-speaking) countries.
Selected segments of the show are regularly uploaded onto their YouTube channel. For example, learners can watch an expert talking about the importance of déconstruire les stéréotypes (deconstructing stereotypes) or another discussing la neurotoxicité des écrans (the neurotoxicity of screens).
We can also go onto the TV show’s website to engage in some fun interactive clips which have been classified according to the level of proficiency of the learners (A2 to B2 levels).
After listening to a clip, exercises test your listening comprehension skills through fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice exercises.
15. “bref.” (“In Short.”)
With 82 episodes and over 80 bonus clips as of June 2021, “bref.” is one of those YouTube channels you find by mistake one day and binge until four in the morning because you can’t stop watching.
The name of the channel can also be translated as “brief,” which perfectly describes the type of videos you’ll find there. All clips are between one and three minutes long, making this funny channel perfect for microlearning study sessions.
“bref.” depicts Parisian life from a sarcastic, humorous, sometimes even over-the-top way. The use of Parisian slang is possibly what makes this channel more challenging for beginners, but if you’re trying to learn that variety of French, it’ll be perfect for you.
16. “Caméra café” (“Camera Café”)
We all have a coffee machine in our home or the office, right?
Coffee is so ingrained in our daily lives that many of us drink it non-stop throughout the day (confession: I do), not only to keep us awake but also because of its delicious taste.
“Caméra Café” takes drinking coffee at the office to the next level and adds an unexpected twist: the coffee drinkers are being observed!
Located in the pantry area of the company, the coffee machine and its beverages become the conversation starter of each episode.
The series puts us, the viewers, in the point of view of a coffee machine at the headquarters of a large French company (the main characters include the CEO’s driver, the director of human resources and a full-time psychologist).
Through their witty professional and private discussions around the coffee machine, this parody of the daily lives of French workers will keep you laughing and teach you lots of vocabulary related to corporations and office work, in general.
17. “Qui veut gagner des millions?” (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”)
This is the French version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
The show seems to have been discontinued (with the exception of a few charity programs that include celebrities). However, it’s scheduled to return in August 2021 to TF1. In the meantime, you can watch a ton of videos and complete episodes on YouTube.
“Qui veut gagner des millions?” is a game show in which contestants have to answer several multiple-choice questions on general knowledge and culture. The aim of the game is to answer all the questions correctly to win one million dollars.
Along the way, there are three lifelines that the contestant can use—50/50, a call to a friend and an audience poll.
Watch this program to learn more about the culture, history and traditions of France, as well as some tactics to win the game should you become a future contestant.
18. “Les guignols” (“The Puppets”)
“Les Guignols” is a satirical news broadcast hosted by latex puppets.
They’re known for introducing popular catchphrases and satirizing politicians, and they have a large influence on French popular culture.
The show has challenged current popular figures and the French conventional way of thinking more effectively than many other forms of media.
While their main focus is on French politics, they also parody international events from time to time.
Use this show to keep yourself updated with current affairs and get a different perspective on them while you learn French vocabulary related to politics, business and economy.
19. “C’est pas sorcier” (“It’s Not Rocket Science”)
I came across this channel completely by accident, but it’s become my latest nerd obsession.
“C’est pas sorcier” is a YouTube channel devoted to all things science. It covers many topics that are obviously related to the field (like snow or electricity), but there are others that are seemingly not related to it (like religion or opera).
The presenter, Jamy Gourmaud, will take you on a mini-journey of about one minute each time and tell you everything about the topic, leaving you thirsty for more.
If there’s a topic you want to learn about, Jamy has probably covered it on his channel, but if he hasn’t, he might do it soon (he likes to keep up to date and talk about issues that are “trending topics” in the world).
“C’est pas sorcier,” which literally translates to “it’s not magic,” brings science to a level everyone can understand without leaving important information out.
It’s a perfect way to learn about things you never thought you wanted to know about, and since the language is accessible and easy to understand, it’s a useful channel for everyone, including beginners.
French Shows to Watch Elsewhere
While the following series are available to watch online, most require an account or a monthly subscription.
If you’re serious about learning French, you might want to invest in these French channels and streaming services to unlock even more French series and movies for all your learning needs!
20. “Plus belle la vie” (“Life Is More Beautiful”)
Marseille is a beautiful southern French city that receives at least 300 days of sunshine every year, making it a dream holiday destination for those who want to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Set in this idyllic coastal city, “Plus belle la vie” is a day-to-day serial drama about the lives of the residents in an imaginary neighborhood called “the Mistral.”
The series revolves around two main plots: the personal lives of the inhabitants of Mistral as they go about their daily lives (including love and friendship subplots) and detective stories sometimes tinged with fantasies.
The humor in French may be hard to understand for beginners, but the sand, sun and sea will definitely be appealing to every viewer.
21. “Engrenages” (“Spiral”)
“Engrenages” is a crime thriller that gives the viewer an insight into French society and can teach them about the French justice system.
Through a young prosecutor, a police captain, a judge and a criminal lawyer, we delve into the complicated world of the courthouse in Paris, its workings, its actors and its little tricks.
According to some lawyers and prosecutors, the show may not depict what happens in real life very accurately, but as long as we can feast our eyes on good-looking actors/actresses and learn some French along the way, it shouldn’t really matter, right?
This is one of the few French TV series that’s been exported overseas. It was sold to almost 70 countries, which is definite proof of its success.
22. “Kaamelott” (“Camelot”)
For those who are interested in medieval times, “Kaamelott” is a humorous historical fantasy TV series that will put a French smile on anyone’s face.
The series was inspired by the Arthurian legend and it depicts the adventures of King Arthur, who’s struggling to be worthy of the task entrusted to him by the gods.
Surrounded by the Knights of the Round Table, who are hilariously incompetent, he’s faced with the fall of the Roman Imperium and the barbarian invasions, all the while trying to find the Holy Grail despite all these setbacks.
Watching this series will definitely make you want to visit France and admire its beautiful landscapes and magnificent castles.
23. “Braquo” (“Stick-up”)
Four policemen see their lives change when their colleague, Max, commits suicide after a case in which he was implicated.
They then decide to cross the “yellow line,” taking the law into their own hands in order to achieve their goal: to honor their friend Max.
Their actions are closely monitored by their nemesis and they soon land in trouble.
This series is exciting and will keep you glued to your seat because of its many unexpected twists and turns.
While you may not be able to understand all the French conversations going on, at least there’s tons of action to keep you captivated.
You can look for the first season on Amazon Prime (not available in some regions), but if you want to watch the whole show, you’ll need to be subscribed to Canal Plus.
There you have it, folks! A whopping 23 shows to learn French.
Learning French with native media is one of the most efficient and effective ways to master a language.
Native shows open a window to real-life conversations and interactions that’d be impossible to listen to anywhere else unless you go abroad.
Give our propositions a try and you’ll be one step closer to becoming fluent.
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy watching!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.
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.