From Horror to Laughter: The 14 French Tv Shows Every Learner Should Watch

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Do you ever wish you could just sit back, relax and upload the knowledge of French to your brain?

I’m sure it’ll be possible one day, but in the meantime why not simply watch a French TV show?

You’ll learn a lot about French culture, laugh and maybe cry, but most importantly, you’ll improve your understanding of spoken French, grow your vocabulary and learn to speak French more naturally.

Don’t know which one to watch first? Here are 14 French TV shows people love!

Spiral (engrenages)

Similar to The Wire, Spiral tries to depict the French justice system as accurately as possible through the life of six different persons : a prosecutor, a lawyer, a judge, two lieutenants and a police captain.

The stories get darker and more complex episode after episode making it hard to stop watching this series that has already been exported in more than 70 countries, making it one of the most popular French TV shows of all time.

Be warned though! According to several French lawyers and prosecutors, the first season is the only one to paint a realistic picture of the French judiciary system.

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Braquo = hold-up in slang.

The lives of four police officers completely change when their boss and friend Max kills himself after being wrongfully blamed for a failure.

They decide to do everything in their power to clear his name, even if this means crossing the yellow line.

Their behavior attracts the attention of the IGPN, also called the “police of police” and they quickly run into troubles.

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The Returned (les revenants

A peaceful French village experiences a shocks when some dead villagers suddenly come back to life and resume their activities as if they had never been dead.

As the villagers just begin to accept the presence of these ghosts, a series of murders and strange events reminds them of a serial killer from the past.

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A French village (Un village français)

In June 1940, the German arrive in the fictional city of Villeneuve.

The TV show follows the lives of the villagers as they do their best to adapt to this difficult situation.

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After the murder of her uncle François Paoli, Sandra Paoli becomes the boss of the Corsican mafia and discovers a world dominated by violence and men.

Helped by her brother Jean-Michel Paoli, she learns to make herself respected and quickly becomes a feared leader.

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After being the mayor of Marseille for 20 years, Robert Taro faces the man who betrayed him.

Ensues a violent fight for the control of the southern French city.


As the nobles start to rebel against the monarchy, the young king Louis XIV decides to move the court to Versailles, his father’s former hunting lodge.

The nobles reluctantly follow him and immediately start plotting against him while doing their best to cancel the construction project.

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King Arthur and his knights do their best in their quest for the Holy Grail.

Unfortunately, their best isn’t very good at all and the characters cause disaster after disaster as they show their greed, stupidity and cowardice.

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Les Aventures de Tintin

This French Canadian TV show is based on Les Aventures de Tintin, a classic Belgian comic from Hergé.

It follows the adventures of a young reporter who often gets himself into dangerous situations, because of his investigations, but always manages to save the day.

Fais pas çi, fais pas ça

This humorous TV show follows the lives of two families with radically different visions of education as they go through the challenges of raising kids.

Un gars une fille

This TV show follows the life of a young couple as they face hilarious everyday situations.

This is a great series to learn everyday French and get used to the French you’ll hear in France.

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An anonymous 30 year-old Parisian talks about his daily life and numerous failures.

The honesty of the character as he talks about his life makes the show particularly entertaining.

The main character speaks extremely fast so don’t worry if you don’t understand everything, this is definitely not a TV show for beginners.

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Oh La La, Hollywood Speaks French

Oh La La, Hollywood Speaks French was created to help French learners like you improve their French. It depicts the daily life of two French sisters living in the US.

The vocabulary is useful and easy to understand. A great TV series to watch as a French learner!

You can find all the episodes on Youtube.

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Oh La La, Speak French – Paris Style

The second of Oh La La, Speak French follows the adventures of Soso who is now back in her favorite city, Paris.

Like the first season, this season comes with subtitles, a supplementary workbook you can buy and a healthy dose of French idioms and slang.

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How to watch French TV series from abroad?

Most French TV shows are not broadcasted abroad, which makes it hard to watch them when you don’t live in a French-speaking country.

Luckily, there are ways to watch these series from anywhere in the world.Braquo is available on Netflix for example, and you can find several episodes of Kaamelott and un gars une fille on Youtube.You will also find several French TV series on Hulu.

Many French TV channels also give you the possibility to watch episodes up to one week after they were broadcasted.

To find these episodes, simply type “name of the series + replay” on

In some cases, you won’t be able to watch because you are not in France unless you find a way to make the website believe you are in France.

This is something you can do using a VPN. That is a software that changes your IP address and replaces it with an IP address in any country you want.

What’s your favorite French TV show? Let us know in the comments below!

Benjamin Houy

Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters.

26 thoughts on “From Horror to Laughter: The 14 French Tv Shows Every Learner Should Watch”

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  1. Bonjour Benjamin,

    Both Engrenages and Braquo had me entranced on TV here in Scotland.
    I honestly think that these are two of the very best TV series I have ever seen in my life.
    Braquo was so convincing that it was difficult to think that they were actors after all!
    We have Walter Presents here on Channel 4 which dedicates itself to the best of world Drama TV, and there have been many French box sets which are very good, and naturally helps me with French vocabulary.
    I look forward to trying a few of your suggestions.
    Merci beaucoup

  2. Engrenages & Cherif. J’adore les deux!! Can’t wait for series 7 & 8 of 1st. & wish more eps. of
    2nd ‘d come on Netflix.


  3. loved un village français. un gars une fille very funny (Jean Dujardin).
    engrenages (spiral) pretty gritty. les revenants c’est trés bizarre pourtant cool. Bref si trés vite pour comprendre facilement, mais encore amusant.

    Plusieurs bonnes suggestions.

    merci Benjamin.

  4. Un village français is the best tv show I’ve ever watched! I’m a musician and I love chanson in general, but this show made me want to learn French more than anything.

  5. I like watching seasons of Soda with Kev Adams. I ordered DVDs from and Watch them on my computer with a DVD drive that I leave set to the correct region for France DVDs. As long as you don’t ever put US DVDs in the drive, it will work for french DVDs. On a desktop drivev you can only change regions 3 times. So be careful. I labled my drives “French” and “U.S.”

    • Best series on tv. Great characters and scripts. Fast paced
      Like the lead female character – she is smart, fearless and is a good female lead detective

  6. OK, the streaming services Walter Presents and MHz Plus have A LOT of French programming.

    The first few are pretty good, but “Les Revenants” was a bit weird. “Le Bureau des Légendes”(AKA “Le Bureau”) is addictive. I made it through the first series of “Les hommes de l’ombre” (“Spin”) sans soutitres. My French is good enough to understand shows without subtitles (I spent a lot of time in pays francophones).

    To sort of change the topic, Delf B2 seems to be a lot of listening comprehension: not sure how good things like Braquo and Engrenages are for that.

  7. They speak too fast and sometime can be discouraging that after hard work of studying french, one doesn’t still able to hear stuffs like these. Benjamin can you recommend any slower version

    • Oh La La, Speak French would be a good alternative because they have subtitles. Otherwise, you may find that starting with a French course is actually better.

  8. Hello! I am learning French in school as a third language… can you suggest a show which can be understood more easily? Like some cartoon??

  9. I have been listening to France 24 and I noticed two things I need to ask about:
    First one. These expressions seem to be contracted:
    résolution photo (instead of: résolution de la photo)
    animal peluche (instead of: animal de peluche)
    pétrolier TOTAL (instead of: pétrolier de TOTAL)
    aspect négociation (instead of: aspect de la négociation)
    capitaine industrie (instead of: capitaine d’ industrie)
    assurance maladie (instead of: assurance de maladie)
    action groupe (instead of: action de groupe)
    projet loi (instead of: projet de loi)
    débarquement Provence (instead of: débarquement en Provence)
    application software (instead of: application de software)
    there is a sort of rule that enable to contract these ones?

    Second one. How do you know when you can intersperse these words below with a dash, is there a set of rules?

    • Hi :).

      There is no rule that I know of for contractions. But animal peluche should be animal en peluche normally. The form you mention seems a bit weird. The only place where it would be used would on an inventory listing.

      Concerning dashes, almost all compound words use them. With a few exceptions like boite aux lettres.


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