11 French TV Shows for Binge-Learning Real-World French

Does Roku rock your world? Has Chromecast cast its spell on you? Do you carry a torch for Amazon fire?

No matter how you get your diffusions en continu (streaming broadcasts), you can use your streaming device to access French TV shows that are as educational as they are entertaining.

We’ll take an up-close look at 11 programs that will shake up your streaming — plus, we’ll give a nod to seven other French TV shows that might tickle your fancy.

These French TV shows won’t explicitly teach you complete verb conjugations or explain the finer points of French grammar. Nonetheless, they’re a fantastic way to practice your listening skills and keep up-to-date with Francophone culture—as you grow your French vocabulary, master idiomatic phrases, and improve your pronunciation.

Where to Find French Television

You can find plenty of French programming on streaming services. While Netflix offers a great variety of French television series for viewers around the world — and numerous options for captions and subtitles — Amazon’s Prime Video should not be overlooked.

News, sports, and family entertainment are available through Sling TV’s French Bouquet package. You can watch regional French programming from Île-de-France, Normandy, Alsace, and beyond on Roku’s France TV channel

If you channel surf via satellite, you can find codes for French channels on sites like World Languages TV and SatExpat. You can also get French-language programming from France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada through one of DISH Networks French TV packages.

For a variety of free French TV programs that you can watch on virtually any connected device, YouTube is hard to beat. However, the captions are usually auto-generated (and notoriously inaccurate). Also, YouTube is less likely to have complete episodes for more current shows.

Captions, Subtitles, and Learning with French TV Shows

Depending on where you live, “captions” and “subtitles” might be used interchangeably — or might mean two entirely different things.

Captions are often considered a complete written transcription of a TV show’s audio — not just dialogue, but descriptions of sound effects and music. For our purposes, captions are the transcription of the original French dialogue; subtitles would be their translation.

Both captions and subtitles can be helpful tools for learners, depending on your level of fluency and your learning goals.

If you’re at an intermediate or advanced level — and want to challenge yourself more as you’re watching French TV — the ability to turn off captions or subtitles can also be useful.

Often, programs on Amazon’s Prime TV have open captioned (non-removable) English subtitles. This means that learners won’t always have the option to turn them off (or swap in French captions). Although this can be a disappointment for upper-intermediate and advanced learners, it can also be a help to beginners and lower-intermediate learners. 

Netflix, on the other hand, generally allows you to choose the caption/subtitle language. In many cases, you can also choose the audio language. So, you might combine French audio with English subtitles or French captions, depending on your level of understanding. Or, if you’re an advanced learner, you might choose to eschew all captions and subtitles and rely solely on the French audio.

Choosing French TV Shows to Watch

Pick shows that you would enjoy if they were in your native language. The more engrossed you are in the program, the less you will worry about not understanding it. The more you watch, the easier it will be to pick up on what’s being said. 

Soon, you’ll find that your understanding of French dialogue becomes more and more automatic, especially as you use context clues to figure out new words and phrases.

Be sure to adapt the learning to your level. If you’re a beginner, find shows with easier vocabulary and less slang. (This usually means children’s shows—but documentaries can sometimes work, if the narration is slow.) 

If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, you’ll be able to understand a broader array of programs. As we’ve noted, you can also modify the difficulty level by using different combinations of captions and subtitles — or by removing them entirely.

A Few Tips for Learning with French TV

French TV can be an entertaining “classroom.” However, just like a real-life classroom, you get the most out of it by actively participating.

Watching television is, admittedly, a passive activity. Even so, you can profit more from your TV time by taking a few extra steps:

  • Add French shows to your regular routine. Since time is a finite resource, you might need to make some substitutions to fit French TV into your normal viewing hours. Consider swapping in a French show for one of your usual viewing choices.
  • Keep a notebook. Write down unfamiliar words and phrases. Later on, you can look them up.
  • Use flashcards. Once you’ve made a few vocabulary lists for yourself, you can create virtual flashcard decks for yourself with an app such as Anki or Brainscape. (You can also do it the old-fashioned way, with sets of index cards.)
  • Talk it over. If you have a French conversation partner, why not talk about your favorite French TV shows together? If you’d prefer to practice your writing, try a forum such as Reddit. Search on the subreddit r/france for “émissions télé” (television programs) in general, or for the specific name of a favorite program. (You’ll also find such discussions in the “Culture” category.) If you find a discussion that interests you, or want to ask a question, hop in!
  • Keep it casual and mix it up. Although the whole point of watching French television is to improve your French, you don’t want to make it a chore. Give yourself occasional nights off from French TV, watch without your notebook sometimes, and try a few new shows every so often to keep things interesting!

Easing into Watching French TV

If diving into French television seems too intimidating at first, you can start out with some of your tried-and-true favorites.

Some streaming services — Netflix, in particular — offer multiple language options. For many familiar programs, you can pair French audio with subtitles in your native language, or vice-versa.

It’s sort of like swimming in the shallow end of the pool: It’s limiting, and you won’t want to stay there forever. However,  if you’ve never tried French TV before, it’s a way to get a little practice with the language before you take the plunge into  authentic French programming.

Shows Subtitled in French

Quand j’ai la flemme (when I’m feeling lazy) — or if I’m watching TV with someone who doesn’t speak French — I sometimes add the French subtitles to an English-language program.

This way, I can see French versions of the English dialogue and narration I’m hearing. It can be interesting to compare the way ideas are expressed in English versus French.

Shows Dubbed in French

If you’re not put off by the desynchronized audio and mouth movements characteristic of overdubbing, watching your favorite native-language shows with French audio can be another way to ease into watching French TV. 

For example, Netflix has several TV shows overdubbed with French audio, such as the remake of Unsolved Mysteries and the documentary series, Trial by Media.

Depending on your level of French learning, you can add in the French or English captions to help you along with the French audio. 

Making the Transition to Real French TV Shows

Television programs from French-speaking countries are ultimately your best choice, because they’ll immerse you in Francophone culture (rather than just a translation of another culture’s program).

To make the transition into watching genuine French-language television, start small — especially if your still new to the French language. Watch just a few minutes of a show, then build up to longer sessions. 

Add in the English subtitles or French captions, if that helps your understanding. After a time, you’ll find yourself less reliant on them.

If you keep the experience positive, you’ll want to come back for more.

Tune into Learning with These 11 French TV Shows

1. Kids TV Française (French Kids TV)

Genre(s): Pre-school; children’s programming; animated

Learning level: Beginner

If you’re very new to French and just learning your first words, Kids TV Française will give you the opportunity to practice your foundational vocabulary and improve your understanding of spoken French. 

These videos are intended for toddlers, so you won’t find heavy-hitting drama, complicated plots, or complex characterizations. Nonetheless, these programs are colorful, fast-moving, and provide plenty of visual clues to help you understand new vocabulary. 

With Bob le train (Bob the Train) as your trusty guide, Kids TV Française will give you lots of practice with essentials like basic words and phrases, numbers, letters, shapes, animal names, and colors in French. There are even videos to help you learn vocabulary for major holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

The programs are full of both songs and comptines (nursery rhymes). You’ll recognize many of the tunes as childhood classics, such as Les roues sur le bus (“The Wheels on the Bus”) and Le vieux Macdonalds avait une ferme(“Old MacDonald Had a Farm”). Since many of these songs and rhymes will already be familiar to you, you’ll be able to more easily pick up the meaning of the words in their French versions.

Where You Can Watch Kids TV Française

Kids TV Française has its own YouTube channel.  

Kids TV Française: Vocabulary Primer

coucou – hello, hey there

suivez-moi – follow me

une ferme – a farm

un canarda duck

un cheval, des chevaux – a horse, horses

un œil an eye

les yeux bleues – blue eyes 

est-ce que c’est toi ? – Is it you?

le carréthe square

la chanson – the song

traverser – to cross, to pass through

une étoile – a star

le ciel – the sky

l’éspace outer space

pour qu’elle soit bien croustillant – so that it can be very crisp (or crusty)

la queue – the tail

les petites clochettes – jingle bells

à mes côtés – at my side

glisser – to slide

encore une fois – one more time, once again

où es-tu ? – where are you?

n’oubliez pas – don’t forget

vous avez perdu – you have lost (from perdre, to lose)

2. Trotro

Genre(s): Children’s, Animated

Learning level: Beginner

Trotro centers on an eponymous donkey of pre-school age. Raised by ever-patient parents and joined on his adventures by friends Lili, Nana, and Boubou — as well as his very best friend, la pelouche (stuffed toy) Nounours — Trotro is over-the-top. Or, as his name indicates, he’s “trop, trop” (too much, too much).

With lots of repetition and visual clues, this series is great for teaching new French words and expressions to beginners. In addition, you’ll hear the French emphatic used a lot in expressions such as moi, je vais le faire tout seul (I’m going to do it myself).

If you can’t get enough of Trotro—even after its theme song gives you an earworm—consider reading the books that inspired the series.

Where You Can Watch Trotro

You can see episodes of Trotro on YouTube or on Netflix, where they’re packaged as several 2-3 minute episodes compiled together in twenty minute blocks. 

Netflix offers Trotro with French audio and either English or German subtitles. However, there are no French captions.

If you watch Trotro on YouTube, you can enjoy a new episode every week. However, the only captions are in French, and they’re auto-generated—so you may encounter some transcription errors.

Trotro: Vocabulary Primer

j’ai une idée I have an idea

on va jouer à cache-cache – we’re going to play hide-and-seek

triche pas ! – don’t cheat!

je suis bien caché – I’m well-hidden

je vois tes oreilles – I see your ears

le fauteuil – armchair

c’est trop facile – it’s too easy

le cartable de grand – the big binder

c’est lourd – it’s heavy

je suis coincé – I’m stuck

il me gêne pour jouer – it prevents me from playing

tu m’as fait peur – you scared me

tu es méchant – you’re nasty

au secours ! – help!

rien à craindre – nothing to fear

le nounours – teddy bear

l’heure de dormir – time to go to sleep

un gros voix – a big voice

l’histoire, je connais – I’m familiar with the story

dans le chariot – into the shopping cart

des fois, c’est trop haut – sometimes, it’s too high

il me faut mon papa – I need my dad

faire encore plus de bruit – to make even more noise

un vrai faim de tigre – a real tiger’s hunger

ça sent bon – that smells good

sauve-toi – save yourself

tu es trop beau – you are too handsome

comme tu es drôle ! – you’re so funny!

3. Boowa & Kwala

Genre(s): Children’s, Animated

Learning level: Beginner to Early Intermediate

Youthful best friends Boowa and Kwala are next-door-neighbors. Their adventurous (and often tuneful) approach to life will introduce beginning French learners to everyday vocabulary. Follow along as they rescue a lost kitten, transform themselves into wizards for Halloween, save their local river from pollution, frolic with their local frogs, and find the perfect box for a seashell. 

Boowa, a blue dog, and Kwala, a yellow bear, make these simple activities charming and fun. The characters speak slowly and repeat keywords often. In general, words are also illustrated in some way — so picking up vocabulary is easy for beginners.

Since each episode is only five minutes long, you can learn in easy-to-digest chunks. Plus, the duo’s musical interludes feature catchy melodies that make you want to sing along. Music stimulates the speech and memory centers in your brain; the repetition in the songs reinforces your retention of the vocabulary.

Boowa & Kwala will teach you basic vocabulary and phrases in French. You’ll learn household words, words for animals, words for musical instruments, food words, words for family members, and more.

Where You Can Watch Boowa & Kwala

The complete series is available on YouTube, as are all its music videos.

You can also watch it through a Roku streaming device on the UptoTen français channel.

Boowa & Kwala: Vocabulary Primer

ce n’est que moiit’s only me

méchantemeancing, nasty, vicious, naughty

la poussière noire du soir the black dust of the evening

goûter to taste

une poignéea fistful, a handful

redevenir normalto become normal again

un crapaud pas beau ugly toad, unattractive toad

le coquillage seashell

tu n’aurais paswouldn’t you have

une ficelle string

un fil de ferwire; literally, a “fire thread”

une bricole  – a trifle, a little something; related to bricoler, which means to tinker with, to dabble (in)

une cheville a wooden peg or plug; also means “ankle”

fermé à clélocked (closed with a key)

comme c’est jolihow pretty!

être juste à la bonne taille to be exactly the right size

être muet(te) to be silent

le monde tout entier the whole world, the entire world

allons voir çalet’s go see it

jeter ses ordures to throw one’s filth, waste, or scum (into something)

une vague a wave

t’as raisonyou’re right; you’re correct

vilaines orduresnasty filth

les déchetswaste, trash, garbage

la poubelle trash can

trierto sort out (as in triage)

c’est rigoloit was fun/funny

ça tombe bienthat’s good, that’s convenient, that’s good timing

4. C’est du gâteau (It’s a Piece of Cake)

Alternate English title: Nailed It! France

Genre(s): Cooking/Baking, Reality TV

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

If you’re a Food Network fan, and you enjoy culinary disasters, you’ll get a kick out of the French iteration of this amateur bake-off show.

Three unskilled contestants compete for a shot at baking glory and thousands of euros. This ironically named contest is hosted by comedian Victor-Artus Solaro (known as “Artus,” a Breton name meaning “bear”). 

The contestants’ creations are judged by various industry professionals, such as chocolatier Jacques Torres.  Entertainers like actors Jérôme Niel and Joséphine Draï also serve as judges.

Where You Can Watch C’est du gâteau

This kooky cooking competition is available on Netflix. There’s one season, with six half-hour episodes.

C’est du gâteau: Vocabulary Primer

un patissier – pastry maker, confectioner

la gaufre – waffle

brûlerto burn

une victime de maltraitance – victim of mistreatment or abuse

j’arrive de… I come from [a certain town or place]

dur comme fer – hard as iron

autour d’un de mes kifs – around one of my favorites (from kiffer, to love)

un épingle – a pin

dès que je siffle – as soon as I whistle

réaliser la pâte – to make the dough

la garniture – the garnish

une pâte à tartiner – a paste/cream for spreading (on a baked good)

une pâte à sucre – a sugar paste

c’est au pifomètre – it’s a guesstimate

je m’arrange à ma façon – I put it together in my own way

battre les blancs en neige to beat the egg whites until stiff (literally, “to beat the whites into snow”)

moelleux – soft, smooth, mellow

le fouet – the whisk; the stand mixer (also means “the whip”)

séparer le blanc du jaune – to separate an egg, the whites from the “yellow” (yolk)

ça déborde – it’s overflowing; it’s boiling over

ça coule it’s running (as in a liquid); it’s flowing

dégouliner – to trickle, to drip

il vous reste quinze minutes – you have fifteen minutes left

5. Origines (Origins)

Genre(s): Mystery; police procedural

Learning Level: Upper-Level Beginner to Intermediate 

To bring her expertise to solving crime, determined genealogist Margot Laurent partners up with an initially reluctant police captain, Arthur du Plessis. While it seems an unlikely pairing, Laurent’s talent for unearthing relationships allows the police detective to examine the details of a case with a new perspective. Her insights and intuition often lead to unexpected solutions.

Crusty commissioner René Stavros and plucky Lieutenant Garnier round out the police team in Angoulême; Margot, for her part, receives research assistance from her old friend, Sister Astrid. 

Where You Can Watch Origines

Origines is available on Prime Video. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you can buy seasons or individual episodes in HD (or in standard definition, for about half the price of high-def).

Like many Amazon international series, Origines has been open captioned in English. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to remove the English subtitles, even if you turn them off in the viewing options. However, this makes the program more accessible for upper-level beginners and lower-level intermediate learners, who can try to match the French they hear to the English they see.

Origines: Vocabulary Primer

c’est cassé – it’s broken

gourmette du baptème – chain-style bracelet, given as a baptismal gift

je peux le garder ? – Can I keep it?

une signification particulière – a special meaning

un truc pas net(te) – something odd

les empreintes (digitales) – fingerprints

en quoi je peux vous être utile ? – How can I be of service/help to you? How can I be useful?

être soupçonné – to be suspected/a suspect

elle n’aurait jamais fait ça – she would have never done this

très fusionnelles  –  very close (to each other)

elle avait quelque chose de sombre – she had a dark side (there’s something dark about her)

le test ADN – the DNA test

quant à sa mère – as for his/her mother

les papiers sont en règle – the papers are in order

à mon avis – in my opinion

voler son identité – to steal his/her identity

regarder de plus près – to look (at something) more closely

les premiers témoinages – the initial reports of the witnesses

entraîner de force – to be forcibly taken (somewhere)

couper les ponts avec sa famille – to cut ties (literally, bridges) with his/her family

on se charge – we’ll take care of that

une liste de tous nos déplacements – a list of all our movements

tout est bouleversé – everything is turned upside-down

6. Un village français (A French Village)

Genre(s): Historical drama

Learning Level: Upper-Level Beginner to Intermediate 

Un village français takes place during the German occupation of France, during WWII. Its setting, Villeneuve, is fictional — as are its characters. Still, it’s considered quite realistic, as it was developed with the input of Jean-Pierre Azéma. Azéma is an historian and consultant who specializes in this era in French history.

The series follows the lives of families in Villeneuve, primarily the Schwartz and Larcher families. As it unfolds, the town becomes a center for refugees, even as it reluctantly accommodates a continued Nazi presence. 

This series would be accessible for lower intermediate level learners — and probably even for upper-level beginners, since the English subtitles can’t be removed.

Where You Can Watch Un village français

You can visit Un village français on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service, as well as international streaming service MHz CHOICE.

Un village français: Vocabulary Primer

c’est quoi, ce bordel ? – What is this mess?

ce type – this guy

tirer dans l’air – to fire a gunshot into the air

ils finirent par comprendre – they will come to understand

laisser la parole to give the floor to someone; to let someone else speak (in front of an assembly, for example)

le poêle à bois – wood-burning stove

t’as un grand gueule – you have a big mouth

se maintenir en forme – to keep oneself in shape

les consignes – (military) orders

flinguer – to gun down, to shoot, to blow away

les jumelles – binoculars

mitrailler – to fire a machine gut at; to snap (a series of photos); to barrage with questions

la scierie – sawmill

se gêner – to bother someone; to disturb; to put someone out; to get in the way (can be used ironically, or to mean to be shy, to be bothered, or to stand on ceremony)

bouché (pejorative) – thick, dense, stupid; literally means to be blocked or clogged or muted; can also mean “overcast” when talking about the weather

(c’est) son affaire – (it’s) his/her business; it makes no difference to me

être réconnaissant – to be grateful

un coup de fil – a phone call

7. Au service de la France (In the Service of France)

Alternate English Title: A Very Secret Service

Genre(s): Historical spy comedy

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Travel in time back to 1960 to experience the foibles of André Merlaux and his fellow French secret agents. This was the age of the Cold War, French colonialism, and happy hour in the office. 

Come along for the ride as newly-minted spy Merlaux learns to navigate his double life. Internal politics intermix with international incidents in this wacky farce.

Where You Can Watch Au service de la France

Both seasons of Au service de la France are available for streaming on Netflix, with optional English subtitles or French captions.

Au service de la France: Vocabulary Primer

occidentale – Western

à compter d’aujourd’hui – starting today

être nommé stagière – to be named / declared a trainee

une rattachement – an attachment (to a project); an assignment

tâcher d’être à la hauteur – to try to live up to something; to rise to the challenge

les notes de frais de représentation – travel expense reports

se ficher de quelqu’un – to mess with someone’s head; to wind someone up (as opposed to se ficher de quelque chose, not to give a damn about something)

un péquenot – a redneck, a hillbilly, a hick

être tamponné(e) – to be stamped (for paperwork that’s been marked with an official stamp)

un petit remontant – a little pick-me-up

la bravoure – bravery, valor, gallantry

c’est pour faire joli – it’s (something) to make it look pretty (something done for appearance’s sake only)

les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne – literally, “the long sobs of autumn violins,” a line from the poem Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”) by Paul Verlaine

guetter – to watch out, to lie in wait

trimbaler – to cart around, to lug around, to schlep

une bombe à retardement  – (ticking) time bomb

un escadron de gardes – a squadron of guards

ricaner – to giggle, to snicker, to sneer

sa petite saynète – his/her little sketch; une saynète can also be a “skit” or a “comedy”

une taupe a mole (a spy who betrays secrets to the enemy)

infiltrer ses rouages – to infiltrate their machinery (to insinuate oneself into to the inner workings); rouages also means “gearwheel” or “cog”

un bled – a godforsaken place; a hole

côtoyer – to rub shoulders with; to be close to; to border on

8. La Mante (The Mantis)

Genre(s): Thriller; crime drama; police procedural

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

With only six episodes in its single season, La Mante is almost like a mini-series. Each installment is about an hour long, but the suspense and the pacing make the time pass quickly.

La Mante is a drama within a crime thriller. On the outside, it is the story of the police force’s race against time to find the perpetrator of a brutal series of murders. The driving force of the story, though, is the history between Jeanne Deber, a convicted serial killer, and Damien Carrot, the police detective leading the investigation of the copycat killings.

While the crime-related visuals and descriptions can be disturbing, the drama between the main characters is absolutely gripping. 

Where to Watch La Mante

You can stream La Mante on Netflix; it’s available with both French captions and English subtitles.

La Mante: Vocabulary Primer

un fil d’acier – a steel wire

une scie circulaire – a circular saw

une piqure – a sting (from a hypodermic needle, a bee, or something else sharp)

valider l’hypothèse – to confirm the hypothesis

mettre la main sur ce taré – to get a hold of a psycho/madman 

passer au peigne fin – to run a fine-toothed comb (through something, such as evidence)

la tueuse – the (female) killer

tueurs en série – serial killers 

surnommer – to nickname  

souligner un point important – to underscore an important point (souligner literally means “to underline”)

même à l’époque – even at that time

une réelle perpétuité life imprisonment

probant – conclusive or probative (referring to evidence that can prove something) 

signaler sa disparition – to report him or her missing

prévenir la famille – to inform or notify the family

pas de doute à avoir – no doubt about it

un veuf – a widower

la femme de ménage – housekeeper

un lotissement – housing development; subdivision

tomber pile-poil – to fall exactly (a certain way); similar to tomber pile, which means “to come at just the right time”

un dispositif policier a été déployé – a police unit was deployed

la mode opératoire – M.O. (modus operandi), or manner of operating

9. Dix pour cent (Ten Percent)

Alternate English Title: Call My Agent! 

Genre(s): Workplace comedy; relationship dramedy

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

The title of this series, Dix pour cent (Ten Percent) refers to the traditional cut of an actor’s earnings that’s taken by agents in show business. Retitled Call My Agent! in English, the series focuses more on the lives and business dealings of the agents themselves than on their famous clients.

Somewhat of a dramedy, Dix pour cent shows the Agence Samuel Kerr (Samuel Kerr Agency) thrown into crisis. While dealing with a devastating blow to their talent agency, the agents must also manage the usual drama of their clients’ egos and outrageous demands.

In Dix pour cent, you’ll experience a roller coaster of relationships. The agents who work behind the scenes are just as outrageous, in their own way, as the stars they manage.

Where You Can Watch Dix pour cent

Dix pour cent is streaming on Netflix. There are four seasons, with optional French captions or English subtitles.

Dix pour cent: Vocabulary Primer

être nickelto be spotless; to be clean; to be nice and pretty

noyer le poisson – to cloud or evade the issue; literally, “to drown the fish”

un gros bobard – a big, fat lie; a whopper

jours de tournage – days of shooting (filming)

broder – to embroider, to stitch, to sow

une projection – a screening of a film

à l’acceuil – at the reception desk 

être débile – to be stupid, to be a fool, to be dumb

tenter sa chance – to try one’s luck; to take a chance

une petite chambre de bonne – a small maid’s room

se filer un coup de main – to help someone out; to give each other a helping hand

une lubie – whim, fantasy, caprice (can also mean addiction)

coller le scotch par terre – to put tape (marks) on the ground (or floor) [for blocking]

Si c’est pas toi qui bouffes les autres, c’est toi qui es bouffé – If you don’t devour the others, you’ll be the one to get devoured

une carte UGC – a movie theater pass (UCG had stood for Union Générale Cinématographique, a French cinema company that’s now the second-largest theater chain in Europe)

les déconvenues – the disappointments, setbacks

chouiner – to whine or to chirp

un aller-retour – a round trip 

se casser – to be broken; also means “to get the hell out” (of someplace)

avoir pomper toute sa sève – to have sucked out all the life forces; to have sucked dry (sève is “sap” or “juice”)

de s’en prendre à quelqu’un, physiquement – to physically attack or harm someone

se vire – to get fired

être en spectacle – to be in a show (usually, in live theater)

débrouiller tout seul – to sort something out on one’s own; to fend for oneself; to manage on one’s own

louper son vol – to miss one’s flight

lui raccrocher au nez – to hang up on someone (on the phone); literally, to “hang up on someone’s nose”

la compta – accountant’s office; accounting department

les scénarios – the scripts

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet...

Alternate English Title: The Hook Up Plan

Genre(s): Romantic comedy; sitcom

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Imagine Sex and the City in Paris, only with a main character as shy as Amélie. The result would be something very much like Plan Cœur. 

Plan Cœur follows the lives of three very different young women who are best friends: Emilie is savvy and selfish; Charlotte is wild and daring; Elsa is sentimental and shy. The differences in their personalities naturally lead to some humorous conflict, and the bond of their friendship brings a lot of heart to the frivolity of Plan Cœur.

Plan Cœur is a rom-com romp and not a scholarly study of French. Even so, it comes with a wealth of Millennial slang and casual, everyday vocabulary that can help you connect with native speakers.

Where You Can Watch Plan Cœur

Plan Cœur is available for streaming on Netflix.

Plan Cœur: Vocabulary Primer

bidon – fake, phony (invariable adjective; does not change to agree with the noun it modifies); literally means a “can” or “canister”; can also be a noun that refers to something false, rubbish, fake, or a lie; also, slang for a pot belly

être cheloue – to be dirty, to be messy; to be a pain in the butt

la cagnottekitty (for money); grand prize; jackpot

être vénère – to be worshipped

être dègue – to be demented, crazy

un super parrain – a great godfather (or sponsor)

les meufs – the chicks, the women (Verlan slang for femmes, women)

ronflerto snore

perso – personal [shortened, slang form]

faire gaffe – to be careful 

être accro – to be addicted; to be hooked; to be dependent

tu sèches – you’re skipping (or ditching); literally means, “you’re drying”

être à la ramasse – to be at a loss

c’est galère ! – it’s a real pain; it’s a nightmare

se faire larguer – to be dumped (in a relationship)

une sœurette – a little sister

l’aprèm – the afternoon (short for “après-midi”)

c’est mou – it’s soft; it’s tender

temporiser – to delay; to play for extra time 

le topo – the talk, the spiel, the lay of the land (as in la topographie); can be used as connaître le topo (to know the drill) or voir le topo (to get the picture)

11. Lupin

Genre(s): Thriller; comedic drama

Learning Level: Intermediate to Advanced

This delightful thriller is more than an homage to the legend of Arsène Lupin, the beloved gentleman thief of author Maurice Leblanc

It is the complex and touching story of Assane Diop, the Paris-raised son of a Senegalese immigrant. Assane’s childhood takes a tragic turn, but he clings to Leblanc’s Lupin books to help him cope with his troubles.

As a grown man, Assane struggles to reconcile himself with the events of the past. He continues to emulate Arsène Lupin in a series of his own adventures. Elegant, mischievous, and dedicated to justice for his family, Assane makes the legend of Lupin personal.

To experience Assane’s inspiration for yourself, access the Lupin ebooks for free on Project Gutenberg’s Maurice Leblanc page. (You can also download free audiobook versions of the Lupin series through LibriVox.)

Where to Watch Lupin

Discover the first five action-packed episodes of Lupin on Netflix. (The second season is scheduled for release midway through 2021.)

Lupin: Vocabulary Primer

voyous – thugs, punks, hooligans, hoodlums, gangsters; when used as an adjective, means “rogue”

malmener – to rough up, to manhandle, to bully

le labo – laboratory / crime lab

se fouiller – to search (a suspect); to go through someone’s pockets

élucider – to clarify; to solve (as in a crime)

être dérobé(e) – to be stolen; dérobé as an adjective means “secret” or “hidden”; s’être dérobé (reflexive) means “to be evasive”

oseille (f.) – slang for “money”; literally the name of the sorrel plant, which has long, somewhat rectangular leaves and looks a bit like a stack of cash 

se niquer – to screw (someone), although much more vulgar

le larcin – theft (like “larceny” in English)

contrecarrer – to thwart

avoir un coup d’avance – to stay one step ahead

mômes – kids, tykes, little brats [can be both masculine and feminine]

être démonté – to be disassembled, to be dismantled, to be taken apart

(se) planquer – to stash, to hide away; can also mean “to be on a stakeout”

éviter les chrysanthèmes – to avoid chrysanthemums; a metaphorical way of saying “to avoid death,” since chrysanthemums are symbols of death in French culture

joyaux – jewels, gems (not to be confused with joyeux, which means “joyous”)

un joaillier – jeweler, who works at une joaillerie (jeweler’s shop); a jeweler’s shop is different from une bijouterie, where jewelry is sold, but not custom-created

se barrer – to get away, to go away, to run off, to bail, to beat it

Honorable Mentions: A Few More French TV Shows to Consider

Still looking for more French TV to fuel your learning? Check out these suggestions:

  • Miraculous, les aventures de Ladybug et Chat Noir – The story of two undercover, adolescent superheros, who use their secret identities of Ladybug and Chat Noir (Black Cat) to defend Paris against powerful enemies. Currently available on Netflix.
  • La Trève  – Literally meaning “the truce” but titled “The Break” in English, this is a police procedural filmed in Belgium that takes place in a small town. Netflix streams this series for American viewers.
  • Les Revenants – “The Returned” are dead people who come back from the Great Beyond, instigating a series of bizarre events in their old hometown. Through Prime Video, Amazon offers this series that was originally made with Anne Cosigny, Clotilde Heme, and Frederic Pierrot. (There’s now an English-language version as well, which aired on A&E for one season.)
  • Le Cercle: France – Something like an updated Big Brother crossed with Survivor, the contestants in this reality show — based on the American series, The Circle — communicate with each other from their individual apartments solely through social media. You can “like” this series on Netflix.
  • Vampires – Fans of fanged characters might enjoy this drama about a demi-vampire, based in Paris. Netflix offers episodes of this dark adventure series.
  • Chef’s Table: France – Go behind the scenes of French food culture with renowned chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants in this Netflix original. Discover how their source their ingredients and develop their recipes. Learn how their personal histories influence their food — and how their food philosophies affect their lives.  
  • Passion Maisons (avec Alain Choquette) This Old House, Québécois-style. Presenter Alain Choquette leads us through the restoration of historic homes in Canada on this Historia channel program. This series aired in the early 2000s and is now discontinued. Various episodes are available on YouTube, usually with auto-generated French captions. 


With the wide world of French TV shows, you can continue to learn French through comedy, drama, reality, or documentary. Any French TV show that suits you becomes a French lesson you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch. 

Turn leisure time into learning time. Et vive la télé française ! (And long live French TV!)

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