30 Best French TV Shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube in 2023
What if I told you watching French TV shows is actually a very effective learning strategy?
It really is a great way to hear the language in context and spoken by native speakers. Plus it’s fun and most of us are already watching TV series anyway.
There’s also no better way to learn common French idioms or everyday French phrases than by watching native French speakers do their thing.
In this post, you’ll discover 30 amazing French TV show series guaranteed to be useful for any French learner, regardless of your level of proficiency.
- French Shows to Watch on Netflix
- 1. “Braqueurs“ (Ganglands)
- 2. “Dans la nuit“ (Into the Night)
- 3. “M’entends-tu?” (Can You Hear Me?)
- 4. “Dix pour cent” (“Call My Agent!”)
- 5. “Lupin”
- 6. “On va s’aimer un peu, beaucoup” (Family Business)
- 7. “Plan cœur” (The Hook Up Plan)
- 8. “La forêt” (The Forest)
- 9. “Criminal France”
- 10. “Emily in Paris”
- French Reality Shows and Docu-series to Watch on Netflix
- French Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime
- French Shows to Watch on Hulu
- French Shows to Watch on YouTube
- French Shows to Watch Elsewhere
- Tips for Learning French with TV Series
- Why Learn French Through TV Series?
- And one more thing...
French Shows to Watch on Netflix
1. “Braqueurs“ (Ganglands)
Genre: Crime drama
I thought “Ganglands” was a super gripping television series that kept me on the edge of my seat (actually the edge of my bed with my laptop). It takes you deep into the gritty underbelly of organized crime in France.
The show focuses on Sofiane, a young man who gets caught up in this world in the Parisian suburbs, which are more gritty and dangerous than you would think.
They do the show in a nuanced way and really into the subtle and blurred lines between family and criminal alliances. I recommend this one for those who like crime dramas and to get to know the underrepresented side of Paris.
2. “Dans la nuit“ (Into the Night)
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
This thrilling television series follows a diverse group of individuals who find themselves aboard an overnight flight from Brussels as a cosmic event plunges the world into chaos. In this sci-fi series, the sun and essentially malfunctioned, turning deadly. Anyone exposed to it dies instantly.
Faced with limited resources, the characters on the airplane have to figure out a way to survive in this new horrible reality.
3. “M’entends-tu?” (Can You Hear Me?)
This French Canadian show revolves around the lives of three women named Ada, Carolanne and Fabiola, who are best friends living in a poor Montreal neighborhood.
They deal with things like personal struggles and dreams and they always rely on their strong friendship to get through the struggles to survive and prosper.
The show is funny at times, and it’s also quite sad sometimes, so you can go from laughing to crying in one episode—at least I did!
4. “Dix pour cent” (“Call My Agent!”)
This superb and clever show 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).
Add to that mix real Hollywood actors like Juliette Binoche and Sigourney Weaver in guest spots and you get one of the most hilarious shows you’ll find on the platform.
Genre: Action adventure
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.
6. “On va s’aimer un peu, beaucoup” (Family Business)
Genre: Crime comedy
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.
7. “Plan cœur” (The Hook Up Plan)
“The Hook Up Plan” is another French comedy series I binge-watched in one weekend.
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!
8. “La forêt” (The Forest)
Genre: Crime thriller
“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.
9. “Criminal France”
Genre: True crime
This series is like a series of shorts stories. Each episode is a stand-alone story focusing on one criminal case. Because of this format, you really get a deep dive into each case, which is awesome for people like me who like true crime shows.
You may have seen the English version of this show, so if you liked that version, watch the French one, too.
10. “Emily in Paris”
OK, so this really a bonus series, and it’s probably 99% in English, but there are enough French words and dialogue to each the beginner French student.
I never say things are “charming,” but this show is charming! It follows the adventures of Emily Cooper, a young American woman who moves to Paris for work. With an enthusiastic approach to life, Emily navigates the intricacies of French culture, language and the world of high fashion.
Emily is still learning French (not very well), so she tries a couple of words here and there, but I think most beginner French students will totally relate with her language and cultural struggles as an American in Paris.
French Reality Shows and Docu-series to Watch on Netflix
11. “Nailed it! France”
Genre: Cooking contest
Sometimes you just want to watch a reality show—believe me, I know the feeling. If you’re in that kind of mood, this baking competition show will do the trick.
In each episode, amateur bakers with sometimes very limited skills attempt to recreate intricate and professional-looking desserts, which can lead to some hilarious results.
The great thing about watching reality show is that they’re not scripted, so you really hear a lot of French slang and casual speech.
I even cried during one episode—please don’t tell anyone!
12. “Chef’s Table France”
Genre: Cooking documentary
This show is probably the classiest cooking show on Netflix. The American version was great, but as with most things food-related, the French take it up another notch, celebrating the culinary genius of renowned French chefs—each episode features one person.
The cinematography is outstanding, which helps the stories resonate. It’s also quite beautiful to watch France though this lush camera work.
The one thing I always take away from this show is how much passion and dedication you need in order to become a world-renowned chef. It’s truly impressive.
13. “The Parisian Agency”
Genre: Real estate reality
If you like shows about real estate and want to have a look inside some of Paris’s most luxurious properties, this is the show for you. It follows a group of real estate agents as they work with sometimes impossibly demanding high-end clients.
The drama never seems to end when you’re working with billionaire house hunters, so this show is never not entertaining.
And like I said, maybe the best part of the show is getting to see inside all those historical Parisian houses—I can only dream of living in them, but it’s fun anyway.
14. “Tour de France: Unchained”
Genre: Sports documentary series
There’s probably no sporting even more associated with France than the Tour de France, the grueling multi-day cycling race that goes from the French Alps all the way to Paris each summer.
This series captures that passion and dedication that these cyclists and their teams need to demonstrate in order to achieve success and win this most famous of races. I loved this series and I think you will, too. It’s quintessentially French in the best possible way.
French Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime
15. “Un village français” (A French Village)
Genre: Historical drama
“A French Village” depicts the story of (you 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.
16. “Les revenants” (The Returned)
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
“The Returned” is the sort of show that still sends chills down my spine even months after watching it.
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.
17. “Le bureau des légendes” (The Bureau)
This show depicts the French secret service and undercover agents. The story lines are inspired by the real stories of former French spies who had to carry out their missions in different cities around the world.
But these agents’ work is over: now that they have to come back to France, 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.
18. “Nicolas Le Floch”
Genre: Historical crime drama
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.
“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.
19. “Zone blanche” (Black Spot)
Genre: Crime drama
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.
20. “Maison close” (Brothel)
Genre: Historical drama
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), working as prostitutes.
The brothel is called “Paradise,” but this is certainly an ironic name—the place is anything but paradise.
Rest assured that while the show dives deeply into the lives of these women at the brothel, the topic of sex work is always treated tastefully.
French Shows to Watch on YouTube
21. “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.
You 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.
22. “bref.” (brief.)
With almost 200 episodes, “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.
All videos on the channel are between one and three minutes long, making this funny channel perfect for microlearning study sessions.
“bref.” depicts Parisian life in 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.
23. “Caméra café” (Camera Café)
“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.
Through the characters’ 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.
24. “Qui veut gagner des millions?” (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?)
Genre: Game show
This is the French version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” I know you’ve seen the show at some point, so I won’t describe the way the game works other than to say: you can win a million euros here.
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.
25. “Les guignols” (The Puppets)
Genre: Comic parody
This show is a legendary French satirical news broadcast—hosted by puppets. Yes, you read that correctly.
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.
26. “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.
This excellent 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.
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!
27. “Plus belle la vie” (Life Is More Beautiful)
Marseille is a beautiful southern French port 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, the show depicts the lives of the residents of an imaginary gritty Marseille 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.
28. “Engrenages” (Spiral)
Genre: Crime drama
“Engrenages” gives 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?
29. “Kaamelott” (Camelot)
Genre: Historical drama
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.
30. “Braquo” (Stick-up)
Genre: Crime drama
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.
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.
Tips for Learning French with TV Series
Now that you’ve got a list of interesting series to watch, you’ll need a plan for tackling them. Here are some points to consider before you grab some popcorn and settle in:
- Be mindful of the genre. A crime series is going to have different vocabulary from a historical series set in the 19th century, so consider your level of French proficiency. If you’re not as confident, practice first with modern series that talk about everyday topics, then feel free to get adventurous after that.
- Experiment with subtitles. Try turning off the subtitles first and see if you can get the gist of the story just by listening. French is notorious for its tricky pronunciation, so if you’re getting confused or you want to catch an unfamiliar word, turn the subtitles back on.
- Keep other study resources around. You’ll pretty much need to have a good dictionary app or website while watching (those new words can pile up fast!). Personally, I also like making flashcards for new vocabulary that keeps coming up.
Unlike the regular experience of watching a TV series, studying with French TV series might end up with you having to pause the video constantly or being unsure about what exactly just happened in a dialogue.
FluentU, a French language learning program, has a more efficient approach.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
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.
Another benefit would be motivation. The French TV series above aren’t dry at all (considering you’ll be using them as study material), and it becomes more comfortable to watch as you burn through episodes because you’ll get used to the vocabulary.
So there you have it–a whopping 23 shows to learn French, along with some ideas for getting you started.
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!
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.