You’ve seen him before.
That dapper French man sitting in an outdoor café.
We’ll call him Jean-Pierre.
He’s armed with the Sunday paper in his hands and an ashtray and small coffee cup sitting to his right.
You see him alternate between taking sips of espresso and taking in current events—and you wish you were him.
The carefree gypsy jazz soundtrack in your head abruptly cuts out. “I’m not him,” you think to yourself, gazing enviously at his beret that somehow defaults to sit at the perfect angle on his head.
Never fear, aspiring Jean-Pierres of the world. While you may not be able to replicate his effortless cool, you can certainly replicate and maybe even one-up his use of French news resources.
Yes, you too can one day be at that same café taking in stories about international peace treaties, tech innovations and local restaurant recommendations all in French.
You’ll want to give yourself some adequate time to start training your French news learning muscles, though.
After all, Jean-Pierre’s 68 and has been reading the paper at that same café for over 40 years. How do you think he got so good at it?
In this article, we’ll look at how to learn French with the news using beginner and intermediate sources to get you off the ground, as well as advanced, authentic French news sites sorted by the type of content they specialize in reporting.
Before Sipping Up These News Resources…
It’s a great feeling when you see words you’ve been learning come up on a real French news site. Increase the chances of this happening by studying some subject-specific vocabulary ahead of time.
While this will likely be less of a problem on sites that provide translations for vocabulary words, remember that you’re working towards ultimately being able to take in French news on sites with content written for native French speakers, not French learners.
For example, if you’re reading about the job market in France, you’d likely benefit from reviewing some business French vocabulary and keeping a business French glossary open.
For politics and sports, you can take advantage of lists of election vocabulary and sports vocabulary, as well as overviews of popular sports in France and the French political system.
If you’re interested in reading about youth culture in France, you could make it easier for yourself by reviewing some French slang words and phrases.
To really see French vocabulary in context, incorporate a program like FluentU into your study routine.
Every word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences for easy learning and understanding.
By focusing on vocabulary beforehand, you’ll be more than ready to tackle these news sites!
Get started by signing up for a free FluentU trial.
12 Quality Resources for Learning French with the News
You’ve done some preparation and you’re ready to jump into the resources. Instead of going straight into sites for native speakers, we recommend checking out the ones below designed with French learners in mind!
After you’ve adequately digested content from these sites, you’re ready to embrace the challenges and frustrations that can come from news sites for native French speakers.
Like many things that are initially uncomfortable, a big part of making the most of these sites is to continue to move forward and maintain a positive attitude. Keep this in mind if you find you’re consistently beating yourself up about not understanding every word! With time, you will begin to understand more.
Beginner French News Sites
News in Slow French
With close to 350 episodes to date, News in Slow French is just what it sounds like—native French speakers discuss current events at a slower speed. That is, the French they speak is intentionally spoken slower and more clearly than French you’d be likely to hear on a French television channel.
The site is geared towards intermediate learners, so while beginners might still benefit a bit from mousing over the definitions each story provides, they may have issues following the story lines. You’ll be able to check out previews of the lessons, but you’ll have to purchase a subscription with the site to get full access.
TV5Monde offers short news clips on real French events for French learners of all levels. The content on TV5 is authentic, relatively easy to understand and tends to be a nice medium between French news sites for native speakers and the slower speech of News in Slow French.
Another advantage of TV5 is that it allows the user to jump between content based on level and theme, which saves time spent navigating the site searching for appropriate content.
Radio France Internationale (RFI)
RFI offers a mix of content and tools sure to appeal to French learners of all levels. For those looking for more of a classroom approach, RFI offers online quizzes generated around stories on current events in the “Apprendre et Enseigner le Francais” (Learn and Teach French) section.
For learners who want to see how much they can grasp without checking translations or transcriptions, the site also offers a large variety of non-guided audio stories that revolve around things happening in the news. Users can find these stories under “Comprendre et Enrichir ses Connaissances” (Understand and Enrich One’s Knowledge).
If you’d like your learning to be less regimented, you might enjoy using 1jour1actu (one day, one news story). The site posts a new video every day about something happening in the news and is designed for French-speaking children age eight and up.
While the site may be more difficult to understand for non-native French speakers, its content is welcoming and enthusiastic and a great option to mix into your French news learning program.
Business / Economy / Tech News Sites
One of the most widely read financial news sites in France, Les Echos can be seen as something of an equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in the US. If you’re the type who always needs to be plugged into what’s happening with the markets, why not merge that need with another passion and do it in French?
Compared to its competitor, La Tribune, Les Echos also tends to publish a much larger amount of articles about developments in tech.
Another site specialized in financial news, La Tribune also offers a unique section called “Vos Finances” (Your Finances) that offers info on the markets for real estate, insurance and even art.
Even if you’re not planning to move to France and snapping up beachfront properties, the site’s articles should be able to hold your attention and help you deepen your financial vocabulary.
Politics News Sites
Le Point is one of the most well-known newspapers in France, and its site features continual updates throughout the day. With a heavy focus on current French President Emmanuel Macron, the site can be a great place to get one’s feet wet in the world of French politics.
Be sure to check out the stories listed next to “À la une” (on the front page) to get an idea of what the magazine deemed the most important stories for each day.
The political section of L’Obs presents news differently by sorting its stories by the major political parties in France. If you lean a certain way politically, you might enjoy reading about the happenings of the political party in France that best matches your ideology.
You can see what’s trending on the site by checking out the hash tags in the “à chaud” (live) section.
Sports News Sites
Arguably France’s most popular news site dedicated to sports, L’Équipe offers a large variety of stories that tend to be focused on French athletes and teams.
Much of the site’s homepage tends to be geared to soccer, which is the most popular sport in France, but users can also take advantage of the dropdown bar just underneath the site title to check out news on everything from squash to gymnastics.
With more neutral coverage in French of all international sports, Sports.fr is a well-balanced alternative to L’Équipe. If you’re more of a general sports enthusiast, you’ll likely appreciate that the site offers a blend of stories on soccer, basketball, rugby and more.
The site also offers a forum that could be useful to see what French-speaking sports fan are saying about the latest happenings with their favorite teams!
Culture News Sites
Popular in France among teenagers and 20-30 somethings alike, Konbini is a great site to check out if you’re interested in working on learning French with pop culture.
The site offers different channels focusing on topics like food, music and TV, with stories covering anything and everything. The site’s content also frequently offers a healthy dose of French humor that makes learning French all the more pleasant.
Although Yard is a British publication, it has a large French division that focuses on trends in urban culture and gives readers a look at what’s popular in everything from tech to music to style. Readers can check out the latest stories on the site and/or the most popular in order to stay current.
Yard’s Instagram account is particularly stylish and engaging, and the short captions and striking images can really make learning memorable and fun.
You’re sitting at a table next to Jean-Pierre’s at the café where you first saw him. Your computer is in front of you and you have several tabs open with a variety of authentic French news sites. You no longer look at Jean-Pierre with envy.
You’ve earned your spot in the café as a savvy, up-to-date French learner! Congratulations!
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