18 French Newspapers to Improve Your Reading Skills

As a kid, I was fascinated by adults reading newspapers. They looked so smart! So serious!

I wanted to be like them!

So, when I grew up, I started reading Le Monde, then Mediapart, Le Monde Diplomatique, Le Canard Enchainé…

If these names don’t sound familiar to you, this article is for you.

After reading it, you’ll know most French newspapers and the key differences between them.

10 must-know French newspapers

Le Monde

Founded at the demand of Charles de Gaulle at the end of the second world war, Le Monde is one of the most widely-distributed French newspaper and the easiest to find outside France.

Considered the newspaper of the establishment, it adopts a centre-left stance which makes it the closest French equivalent of the New York Times and the Guardian.

It covers French current events, world news, economy, politics and culture.

Le Figaro

Founded in 1846, Le Figaro is the oldest French newspaper still in print and one of the oldest newspapers in the world.

Considered centre right, Le Figaro is the equivalent of conservative newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal or the Times.

Libération

newspaper

Founded by famous philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and journalist Serge July, Libération started with a rather revolutionary stance following the protests of May 1968.

This daily newspaper is now considered centre-left although it’s clearly more on the left side than Le Monde for example.

Le Parisien

Founded in 1942 as the newspaper of the French Resistance, Le Parisien is dedicated to news of the Paris region, but also has a national edition called Aujourd’hui en France (today in France).

This is the best newspaper to follow if you’re interested in Paris news and events.

Mediapart

Mediapart is a news website created in 2008 by the former editor in chief of Le Monde.

Unlike most French newspapers, its income comes entirely from subscription fees to guarantee its independence.

Thanks to its independence, Mediapart was able to play a major role in the revelation and investigation of 3 political scandals since its creation.

Le Canard Enchainé

Le Canard Enchainé is a satirical newspaper whose name literally means “the chained duck” and refers to “canard”, the French slang word for “newspaper”.

It regularly investigates political and economical scandals and heavily relies on play on words and cultural references, which makes it particularly hard to understand for French learners.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in print.

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper featuring cartoons and articles that regularly stir controversy.

Unfortunately, the newspaper was the victim of a terrorist attack in 2015 and its future is now uncertain.

Le Monde Diplomatique

Le Monde Diplomatique is a left-wing newspaper available in 26 languages. It features in-depth articles about current affairs, politics, and culture.

Even though its parent company is the Le Monde newspaper, Le Monde Diplomatique enjoys full editorial independence and is known for its dislike of capitalism.

Les Echos

french business newspaper

Les Echos is a financial newspaper with a liberal stance which makes it the equivalent of The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

It regularly publishes economical analyses from leading economists, but also covers topics such as science and innovation.

L’Equipe

Created during le Tour de France, l’Équipe is the most famous French newspaper dedicated to sports.

It mainly covers soccer, rugby, motorsport and cycling.

L’Humanité

Founded 1904 as the newspaper of the French Communist Party, L’Humanité is now an independent left-wing newspaper.

La Croix

La Croix is a newspaper dedicated to world news, economy and culture.

Even though it’s a Catholic newspape (its name literally means “the cross”), its audience is becoming more and more varied

Metro

Metro is a free newspaper available in France, but also in most European countries as well as in the US and in Canada.

L’Express

L’Express is a right-wing weekly magazine with a focus on economics, politic, and world news.

Marianne

Founded in 1997, Marianne is a centre-left news magazine. Its name refers to Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic.

Le Gorafi

gorafi french satirical newspaper

Le Gorafi is the French equivalent of The Onion, the perfect news website to relax and have fun while improving your French reading skills.

The name “Gorafi” is supposed to be a dyslexic version of the name of the French newspaper Le Figaro.

If you want to have some fun, check out the website’s comment section. You’ll find lots of comments from people who don’t realize they’re reading a satirical newspaper.

Bilingual newspapers and news websites for French learners

Reading French newspapers in French can be hard, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

The following news websites and podcasts provide bilingual versions or detailed explanations of most or all of their articles.

VoxEurop

VoxEurop is another European magazine available in 10 European languages, including French.

The magazine translates articles from major French and European newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération.

This a great way for you to read a selection of articles from French newspapers with translations in several languages.

News in slow French

News in Slow French is a podcast dedicated to news. Some content is available for free, but you’ll need a paid subscription to get access to all episodes with transcriptions and notes.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/french-podcast/id427774337?mt=2

RFI – Journal en français facile

Created by Radio France, the main French radio broadcaster, le journal en français facile is a show dedicated to world news in which two journalists speak in “easy” French.

Looking for more reading resources? Check out this article!

Newspapers for children

Children newspapers are an excellent choice for French learners because they use simple language and often explain expressions in more detail than traditional newspapers.

Here are a few you can read:

Over to you

Do you read French newspapers? Which one do you prefer? Join the conversation in the comment section below this article!

13 thoughts on “18 French Newspapers to Improve Your Reading Skills”

  1. Pourquoi n’avez – vous pas mentionne Paris Match? C’est super pour le grandissement du vocabulaire. En plus on peut trouver un peu de tout dedans: les actualites, la politique, les livres etc.

    Reply
  2. Hi Benjamin!
    So I’m happy with Le Figaro and getting into it 🙂
    I was wondering – you’re probably interested in marketing and e-commerce. Do you have a favourite magazine or site that you follow? I thought it would be more interesting for me to read about marketing in French than English!

    Reply
  3. Hi Ben,

    I have been reading 1 jour 1 actu for a short while and I find that it is the appropriate level of French reading material for me at this stage. However, I am not sure if it is important to jot down unknown words and phrases each time I encounter them and look them up in the dictionary. On one hand, it seems useful to do this, as it helps learn vocabulary. On the other hand, it makes the reading process a bit laborious, and you get demotivated. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Checking lots of words can quickly irritating as you said, so I recommend you to only check words that are essential to the sentence or that you regularly see.

      On this page, I share 4 tools you can use to quickly get the translation of words when you read in French. They make the process of looking up words way less laborious:

      https://frenchtogether.com/reading-french/

      Reply
  4. Hi Benjamin

    I was thinking of subscribing to a newspaper. Would you say they’re worth it? I was thinking of Libe or Le Monde. Le Figaro though is a bit easier for me to read, but it doesn’t have the same variety of coverage as Le Monde. Any tips? Or would you stick to free versions..?

    A plus

    David

    Reply
    • Hi David

      I was subscribed to the online version of Le Monde a few years ago and it was quite interesting. They have lots of content and you also get access to archives (you used to at least).

      I was also subscribed to Mediapart for a while and found it quite interesting. They are a bit more aggressive than Le Monde when it comes to revealing scandals which I enjoy.

      But it really depends on how much time you spend reading news. If it’s only a few minutes per day, you’re better off with free versions.

      What I personally like to do is read foreign newspapers on my Kindle or directly in my web browser, because I can easily see the translation of words in one click. As an intermediate learner, this could make reading much more enjoyable for you, so I would recommend you to at least choose a digital edition.

      Reply
      • Hi again

        Thanks..I checked Mediapart, but it looked a little local for me, and perhaps too Left. Le Monde at least offers a few different points of view which is rare these days.

        I actually like holding the paper version so I’m also considering a weekend offer (Le Monde or Libe) even if it’ll be expensive.

        Re free version, the thing is that Libe now limits how much you can access, and Le Monde’s best content is often behind the pay wall.

        I’ll prob bite the bullet this weekend and get one 🙂 🙁 but you’re prob right that the digital versions might be enough..

        David

        Reply
          • Hi Benjamin! I was about to re-subscribe to Le Monde but it was a pain dealing with their customer service team. They didn’t answer my questions and only sent me the ‘pay’ link. You’ve got to be careful these days before getting stuck in any annual subscriptions.
            I found this article again as I’m thinking about subscribing to a magazine like Le Point.
            But haven’t decided yet 🙂
            I’ve heard that Le Temps is also well-regarded..

            Hope you’re well!

          • I agree, and lots of newspapers try to trick people with free trials that actually can”t be canceled.

            I’m not familiar with Le Temps and Le Point. What kind of magazine are you looking for?

          • Yeah, I’m careful now with any subscriptions.

            I just wanted contact with French while back home. I don’t usually surf in French but I would def lie on the sofa and read something 🙂

            From memory Le Point is more interesting..

          • Hi Benjamin

            I thought of you – finally I got two subscriptions to French media. One, Le Figaro, and two, Le Point. Am already reading them!

            The problem with Le Monde is that while it probably was very good quality in the past, now it’s more and more like The Guardian, which means it has a strong Leftist narrative (ie identity politics, Cultural Marxism, anti-liberty). Certainly in the Guardian’s case it won’t publish stories that go against its narrative and I can imagine Le Monde heading in this direction, which is a pity.

            Le Point has some interesting in depth articles and Le Figaro has a decent coverage of entrepreneurship, business and international affairs.

            Liberation looks interesting once it gets away from politics but it’s too difficult for me at this stage. Their daily ‘portraits’ and arts section look pretty good in particular.

            Anyhow I’m happy to be reading in French again 😉

          • Le Monde also frequently publishes articles that really need editing. I don’t know how it was before but it’s clearly not as serious as it pretends to be.

            I heard good things about Liberation but don’t read it personally. I quite enjoy Le Canard Enchainé but I doubt you will if you find Le Monde too leftist 🙂

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