10 Best French TV Series to Learn French Watching TV series or movies is a fun and efficient way to learn a language. Not only is it easier to understand new vocabulary with the added context of a story and its visualization, but you also get a feel for pronunciation and word stress. Moreover, listening to correct sentence structures over and over unconsciously trains your intuition for more complex grammar rules and putting words in the right place. Last but not least, our ability to memorize is boosted when we connect information with emotion. So action, suspense, humor and drama aren’t just the ingredients of good entertainment, but also of good learning experiences.
How to Make the Most of French TV Series
Prepare some basic vocabulary on the main topic of the series before you get started. So, if you’re watching a love story, check out expressions for dating and romance. If it’s a historical drama, look up key terms from the featured time period. A look at the series’ websites will also give you a lot of useful vocabulary and background information, but beware of spoilers!
Enjoy the experience. Eat popcorn if you want to! And obviously pause to look up crucial words that you don’t understand. If you can’t follow the plot, take a look at an episode summary online to get back on track.
If it’s an ongoing series, you can post your opinion in a fan forum, which is a good opportunity to chat with native speakers and repeat vocabulary.
How to Choose Right Series for Your Level
Especially for beginners, dialect, colloquial language and pace usually pose the greatest obstacles to understanding. Remember that even for advanced learners it’ll be difficult to understand every word, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
You may actually encounter more dialect on TV than in real life. Some regional dialects can be easier to understand than others, but that ultimately depends on what you’re used to hearing.
The so-called argot isn’t only spoken by youngsters, but it’s also spoken–to a varying degree –by people of all ages and social backgrounds. What makes it so difficult for learners is that you usually don’t find it in textbooks and dictionaries, but only out in the real world.
Stay away from dubbed foreign series. As you may have noticed by now, it can take a lot more words to express yourself in French than in English. So people have to talk extra fast in translation to squeeze in all the information in about the same time.
10 Best French TV Series to Learn French
1. 7 jours sur la planète
You can kill two birds with one stone because you can be kept updated with the latest news and also practise your French at the same time. This TV program provides a roundup of the latest news of the week, with a focus on the francophone (French speaking) countries.
Every Friday, two reports are specially selected as discussion topics for us to ponder over world issues. You can also go online to engage in some fun interactive exercises which have been classified according to the level of proficiency for learners.
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 revolved around two main plots: the personal lives of the inhabitants of Mistral as they go about their daily lives, the evolution of love and friendship and of detective stories sometimes tinged with fantasies. The humor in French may be hard to understand beginners, but the sand, sun and sea definitely appeal to us.
I’m sure that all of us would have read the Tintin comics at one point of our lives. It is a popular comic character which was created in Belgium and not France, contrary to popular belief. Watch “Les Aventures de Tintin” to relive some of our childhood memories.
It was created in 1991 from the comic book series, “The Adventures of Tintin.” Each episode usually lasts for 45 minutes and they are currently being replayed on the kids channel daily.
4. Qui veut gagner des millions ?
This is the French version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.” It is a gameshow of several multiple choice questions based on general knowledge and culture. The aim of the game is to answer all questions correctly to win the one million dollars.
Along the way, there are three lifelines that the contestant can use – 50/50, call to a friend and audience poll. Watch this to learn more about the culture, history, traditions etc. of France, as well as some tactics to winning the game should we become a future contestant on this gameshow.
“Engrenages” is a crime thriller which gives the viewer an insight into French society. We can be informed more 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 shows may not be as accurate as what happens in real life, but as long as we can feast our eyes on good-looking actors/actresses, it does not matter. This is one of the rare TV series that has been exported overseas and sold in almost 70 countries, a proof of its success.
6. Caméra Café
We all have a coffee machine in our home or the office right? The coffee is so ingrained in our daily lives that many of us drink it in the morning or to keep us awake during the day. Being located in the pantry area of the company, the coffee machine becomes the conversation starter during each episode.
We can relate to the coffee machine and the people who work at the headquarters of a large French company (main characters include a driver for the president, a director of human resources and a full-time psychologist). Through their witty professional or private discussions at the coffee machine, this parody of the daily lives of French workers will keep us laughing.
For those who are interested in ancient stuff, “Kaamelott” is a humorous historical fantasy TV series. The series was inspired by the Arthurian legend and it is about the legend of King Arthur who is struggling to be worthy of the task entrusted to him by the gods.
Surrounded by the Knights of the Round Table who are quite incompetent, he is faced with the fall of the Roman and barbarian intrusions, yet he still has to find the Holy Grail despite all these setbacks. Watching this will make us want to visit France to admire its beautiful ancient Roman landscapes and magnificent castles.
Four policemen see their lives changed when their colleague, Max, committed suicide after a case in which he was implicated in. They then decided 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 with many unexpected twists and turns to keep us glued to the TV. While we may not be able to catch all the French conversation, at least there is loads of action to keep us captivated.
9. Les Guignols de l’info
“Les Guignols de l’info” is a satirical news broadcast hosted by latex puppets. The Guignols are known for introducing popular catch phrases or satirising politicians and they have a large influence on French popular culture.
The show has challenged current popular figures and conventional thoughts, more effectively than many other forms of media. While their main focus is on French politics, they parody international events sometimes. We can be kept updated about current affairs and gain different perspectives about such issues by watching this show.
10. Coup de foudre au prochain village
Interested to see how romance blossoms between a city girl and a country boy? Watch this reality TV series to find out more. A bus carrying twenty young urban girls looking for love traverses across several villages in France. They are searching for a companion to leave the city together for a quieter life.
The bus spends one week in each village, where three men will approach them on the first day and they can choose to get to know them better. As the days go by, each men is left with a smaller number of contenders, any remaining ones will then decide to stay in the village or continue on the bus to try their luck at the next village.