Watching YouTube videos is an excellent way to improve your listening skills and learn useful vocabulary while having fun.
But will you be able to understand French YouTubers if you’re not a native or advanced-level French speaker? In most cases, yes! (Especially if you have practiced with the French Together app.)
A significant number of French YouTubers’ videos offer French and English subtitles. Chalk it up to the beauty of the internet: French YouTube megastars like Cyprien want people around the world to be able to understand, “like”, and subscribe. This means that you’ll find French YouTube videos to watch whatever your level of French.
We’ve already shared the best YouTube channels to learn French. Now it’s time to discover a selection of the best French YouTubers to follow in 2020.
How is YouTube in France different from YouTube in the US and UK?
YouTube is watched and posted to by users around the world, making it a global phenomenon. But are there any differences between the YouTube experience in the US, UK, and France?
It turns out that there are a few, but they’re mostly subtle and, to a certain extent, subjective.
Like the US, France isamong the top ten YouTube-using countries in the world, ranked at number 8 in 2018, with about 30.3 million active users out of a total population of just under 67 million.
Recently, Germany-based YouTuber Dana from Wanted Adventure launched a sort of open call across the platform, asking fellow vloggers to talk about how YouTube differs from their country of origin and the country where they currently reside. So far, two YouTubers have responded regarding the difference between YouTube in the US/UK and France, but if you’re as intrigued by this issue as we are, feel free to check out the growing #vlogaroundtheworld list.
Of the two responses that are relevant to us, YouTubers Patricia B. and Andrea Heckler are Americans living and vlogging in France. According to Patricia, one of the most notable ways being a YouTuber differs in France is that people still have trouble accepting it as a serious job. In her video, she says that while people in the US tend to accept YouTubers as professionals, French people tend to think of someone becoming a vlogger as a sign that they just didn’t want to continue with their studies.
Andrea Heckler has also found that people in the US, as well as the UK, generally accept being a YouTuber as a job. She also remarks that since the UK is geographically smaller, people seem “closer” to YouTubers there. It seems easier to run into or know one, which could help explain the acceptance of vlogging as an actual job. Heckler has found that in France, where she currently lives, most younger people watch YouTube, but YouTube and YouTubers aren’t talked about as much as they are in the UK and US, so vlogging as a profession still seems a bit unusual.
That being said, US-based YouTubers also sometimes say similar things. For example, US-based YouTube megastar Jenna Marbles often talks about how it’s hard to explain and prove her career to people in official or government positions. Benjamin, who currently lives in the UK, thinks the same thing is probably true for YouTubers there, and has experienced people who look down on or don’t consider other internet-based jobs, like blogging, as a legitimate, respectable career.
So, no matter what country a YouTuber lives and works in, respect and recognition for their work really may come down to each person they interact with.
Another difference that Patricia B. cites is that YouTubers in the US are generally much more easygoing about collaborating. In France, she says, many YouTubers will think badly of you if you ask to collaborate, regardless of how many subscribers you already have. She also says that if a YouTuber is filming in a location where another YouTuber is also filming, they’ll get upset because they don’t want to “promote” the other YouTuber, even if that other person really doesn’t need promoting. In the US, Patricia B. says, YouTubers would only avoid each other if they have a problem with one another or don’t want to be associated with a particular vlogger’s viewpoints, etc.
Heckler seems to agree. For her, the strongest sense of community among YouTubers was probably in the UK, a fact that she partially attributes to geography; because it’s a smaller landmass, it’s easier to get to and from events and to collaborate. In the US, most YouTubers live either in New York or LA, making it harder to get together and participate in meet-ups and other events. Heckler thinks that, overall, there’s less of an outspoken sense of community among French YouTubers. She’s even felt a little bit shunned at Paris’s YouTube space because she didn’t speak perfect French.
Hearing that is surprising. Usually, young French internet or pop culture fans tend to speak really good English themselves and are open to communicating with people in English, and like to share cultural knowledge, jokes, etc. Maybe it was just a bad day at the French YouTube space.
As for what Patricia B. says about collaborating, many of the French comedy YouTubers you’ll find on our list do collaborate with each other, so maybe this is more of a niche issue for beauty/lifestyle/travel vloggers.
One thing that is absolutely certain is that there are different legal issues around advertising on YouTube in France, the US, and likely, the UK. If you’re an aspiring YouTuber, you can watch Patricia B.’s video for a somewhat detailed breakdown of a few of them, and she’ll also give a link to where you can get more details.
As someone who watches US YouTubers and French ones, I personally think that both seem to be perceived the same way. In some circles, these people are megastars. For example, several French YouTubers have gotten deals with mainstream TV stations, or have appeared in films. In the US, some YouTube stars have also broken out into other areas of entertainment, as well as released products (makeup palettes, books, etc.). But the overall populations of both countries probably wouldn’t recognize even the most popular YouTubers, and may never have even watched a single video of theirs.
YouTube is a huge website with an immense amount of influence on many levels. But it still remains its own particular corner of the world, whether you’re in the US, UK, or France. Some of the French YouTubers on our list have millions of subscribers or views, but don’t expect that every French person you meet will know who they are.
In a way, this is kind of liberating; there’s no pressure on you to remember names or particular videos or phrases, etc. You can just find some French YouTubers you like, and watch, and learn!
Now, here’s our list:
The top French comedy Youtubers
Cyprien is the second-most popular French YouTuber, with slightly fewer subscribers than French gamer Squeezie, who you’ll also find on this list. Cyprien creates hilarious videos with subtitles in over 10 languages, including English, which makes his channel a favorite of many French learners.
Topics include ads versus reality, school, being a geek and things Cyprien hates.
Norman fait des vidéos
Norman fait des vidéos (Norman Makes Videos) is the third most popular French YouTube channel (based on the number of subscribers) and even has videos with over 34 million views.
Norman’s videos focus on topics such as muscular men, bilingual people, Apple fans (the brand, not the fruit), his cats, and video games. The videos are available with English, French, and Japanese subtitles.
Le Rire Jaune
Le Rire Jaune (The Yellow Laugh; in French, this expression can mean “a forced or bitter laugh”) is another comedy YouTube channel. French brothers with an Asian background, Kevin Kē Wěi et Henry Kē Liáng Tran’s videos are about everyday life, Parisians, their mom, the French school system and other random topics.
Most videos come with French and English subtitles.
Antoine Daniel (What the cut and Clyde Vanilla)
Unlike Cyprien, Norman and other popular French Youtubers’ videos, What The Cut follows a clear format.
Each video consists of a selection of 3 videos Antoine Daniel, the creator of the channel, found hilarious.
These are often videos around a specific theme or from a specific country (Japan, Russia…)
Unfortunately, Antoine Daniel regularly makes jokes and speaks incredibly fast, making him one of the most challenging Youtubers to understand as a French learner. But his videos do have English subtitles, so you can train your ear.
Luckily, his channel also includes the (NSFW) science fiction audio story Clyde Vanilla.
Much easier to understand, this audio story also comes with French and English subtitles.
Unlike the French vloggers you discovered in previous entries on this list, Studio Bagel is not run by a single person but by a collective of French YouTubers creating comedy videos on topics as varied as asteroids crashes, being in a relationship on Facebook, and parodies of commercials.
While most Youtubers talk directly to the camera, Studio Bagel’s videos include lots of short movies and videos that look more like science fiction movies than YouTube videos. Many of these aren’t subtitled, but if you’re an advanced or fluent speaker, or if you’re just testing your ear, they’re definitely worth a watch.
Golden Moustache is another YouTube comedy collective. On their channel, you’ll find hilarious videos on topics such as the sexual life of video games, exes, the day the earth stopped masturbating, as well as movie and pop culture parodies, and satires about serious issues like racism.
Videos come with subtitles in over 10 languages.
Andy is one of the most popular French female comedy YouTubers (a rarer breed than French male comedy YouTubers). She creates mostly “VS videos”. Topics include kids vs adults, beginning vs end of a relationship etc. She also makes videos about many other everyday life topics.
Another French female comedy YouTuber, Natoo creates funny videos about things like dirty people, her dog, hotels, and other everyday life topics. She also posts the occasional dance video.
Her videos come with English subtitles.
You could say that Natoo’s comedy is often distinctly French: self-deprecating to a point almost of self-loathing, things that would sound cute for an Anglophone to say, but that seem self-mocking in the mouth of a French person. For example, at the start of this video, she rolls ungracefully over her bed and says “Bonjour, j’ai tenté une intro un peu originale”, something that Anglophone humor would make a sort of “laugh-with-me” situation, but that French humor makes “I am ridiculous”.
In contrast to this, many of France’s most popular YouTubers, including ones like Cyprien and Norman, who are popular with international audiences, tend to have a more universal humoristic style.
Seb la frite
Seb la frite (Seb the French fry) makes fun of music videos and everyday life situations (in the supermarket, in the bathroom…).
Most videos don’t come with subtitles, but Seb speaks rather slowly, so his videos usually aren’t too hard to understand.
Hugo Tout Seul
Hugo Tout Seul ( Hugo All Alone) follows the same format as most other French Youtubers and makes fun of everyday situations such as relationships, not knowing what to do, etc.
La Ferme Jerome
La Ferme Jerome (Shut Up, Jerome) is a French Youtuber and member of the Studio Bagel collective who creates comedy videos showing him struggling in various everyday situations (skiing, eating a kebab, at a party…).
The best French language and lifestyle Youtubers
Johan is the only language YouTuber in this selection, and is one my favorite online French teachers.
Creator of Français Authentique, Johan regularly posts videos in which he talks about French culture, idioms, personal development and language learning.
The French subtitles and slow pace make Français Authentique the ideal YouTube channel for intermediate French learners.
Solonge te parle
Solonge is not actually a French YouTuber but a Canadian YouTuber. She discusses her favorite books, her love life, and life in general.
The French subtitles and slow pace make her channel a must-watch for intermediate French learners who want to discover Canadian French and learn about life in Canada.
My life in the United States
Just as the name indicates, My life in the United States is a YouTube channel created by a Frenchman living in the US.
Yoann frequently talks about differences between France and the US and offers English subtitles which makes him a great Youtuber to follow if you live in France as an expat or simply want to learn more about French culture.
PL Cloutier is a YouTuber from Quebec who likes to talk about Quebecois expressions, food…and candies.
He is the person to follow if you want to get a Quebecois accent and learn more about Quebec.
Lysandre Nadeau is another Canadian Youtuber who likes to talk about differences between France and Québec, becoming vegetarian and being a lesbian.
French lifestyle vlogger Sananas regularly publishes makeup tutorials and videos about fashion and beauty.
Je ne suis pas jolie
Je ne suis pas jolie (I am not beautiful) is run by Léa, a young beauty vlogger who publishes beauty and fashion videos as well as candid glimpses of her life, and discusses issues like motherhood, home decorating, and being ronde (curvy). It’s unusual to find a top French YouTuber who talks about this last issue, since there is a lot of ingrained prejudice against plus-sized people in French culture.
Aurélie regularly publishes videos about her children Laura and Maelle and talks about beauty and music.
The top French science and history Youtubers
Scilabus is a science popularization channel tackling issues such as wearing white in summer, Mike Pence breaking a spaceship and our jewelry making us weak.
The videos are available with French and English subtitles, which makes the otherwise complex vocabulary easier to understand.
Dirty Biology is all about…you guessed it: Biology!
Videos come with English and French subtitles and explore topics as diverse as Darwin and Pokémon, humanity and the health consequences of GMO’s.
E-penser (E-thinking) is a YouTube channel dedicated to science and technology.
Topics include being left-handed vs right-handed, special relativity, and insane things your brain can do without thinking.
Most videos come with subtitles in English and French.
Nota Bene is a French YouTube channel dedicated to history.
Topics include the history behind Game of Thrones, Norse mythology, and the biggest military disasters.
Videos come with French subtitles.
Histony discusses history with a heavy focus on French politics and answers questions such as who is responsible for the first World War or how Sarkozy and other politicians use history to their advantage.
Osons Causer (Let’s Dare To Have a Chat) is a fast-paced YouTube channel dedicated to social issues such as Facebook and fake news, law reforms and freedom of the press.
The fast pace is counterbalanced by the presence of occasional French and English subtitles.
Cyrus North’s YouTube channel is all about philosophy, Nietzsche, and metaphysics.
The YouTuber regularly discusses topics such as the existence of God, existentialism, Greek philosophers etc.
While these topics aren’t the easiest to understand, the English subtitles make Cyrus North a great French YouTuber to follow if you are interested in philosophy.
The top French gaming vloggers
joueur du grenier
Joueur du grenier (Player from the Attic) is a French YouTuber specializing in retro video games and playing consoles.
Most videos show him playing games such as Pacman, The Legend of Zelda, or Street Fighter, and talking about their history.
The vocabulary of video games isn’t easy to understand but most videos come with English and French subtitles.
Squeezie is the most popular French YouTuber, in terms of number of subscribers. He publishes videos about video games, his life and other random topics.
Most of his videos have auto-generated French subtitles.
The players on the Speed Game YouTube channel have one goal: finish video games as soon as possible, something they do extremely well.
Unfortunately, they also speak incredibly fast.
This and the absence of subtitles make it a YouTube channel for the most advanced French learners only.
The best French movie, music and culture YouTubers
Le Fossoyeur de Films
As his name indicates, Le Fossoyeur de Films (The Movie Gravedigger) comments on and critiques movies , while gently making fun of the worst movie clichés, contradictions, and inconsistencies.
Le cinéma de Durendal
On his YouTube channel Le cinéma de Durendal, movie critic Durendal talks about the movies he just watched. This includes well-known blockbusters like Star Wars and Marvel movies, as well as lesser-known films.
In addition to movie critiques, Durendal also comments on technology and culture in his video series Pourquoi j’ai Raison et Vous Avez Tort (Why I’m Right and You’re Wrong).
Most videos come with French subtitles.
if you love movies and video games, Crossed is the French YouTube channel to follow!
Each of vlogger Karim Debbache’s videos is a critique of a movie that was based on a video game, like Super Mario Bros. As you might have guessed, this is an excellent excuse to make fun of some not-so-successful adaptations.
PV Nova is one of my favorite French YouTubers, as well as a member of Les Franglaises, a theatre troupe that pays tribute to the greatest American and British pop hits by translating them literally into French and adding hilarious choreography.
His YouTube channel is full of musical experiments that show how to create a song in a particular genre such as reggae, chill funk nu-disco, and summer songs.
These are supposed to be parodies but PV Nova’s songs often sound better than the ones I hear on the radio.
French YouTuber Tyllou specializes in classical music analysis, with a particular focus on music from the world of fantasy.
Videos include analyses of music from Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones, and a lot of popular video games.
La Brigade du Livre
La Brigade du Livre (The Book Squad) debunks literary clichés, explores the world of authors such as Stephen King and offers great book recommendations.
A must-subscribe YouTube channel for bookworms and an excellent way to find your next great French read.
Ginger Force compares books and comics like Asterix to their not always successful movie adaptation.
She’s one of the few French vloggers in this category to offer French subtitles.
Code MU’s YouTube channel is all about words. Long words, short words, weird words.
Throughout his vlogs, the French YouTuber explores the meanings, sounds, spellings, and even lengths of words.
The best French cooking channels
A selection of the best French Youtubers wouldn’t be complete without mentioning cooking channels!
Naturacademy’s Benjamin Dariouch has created what is, by far, my favorite French cooking channel.
While most Youtubers focusing on health talk about açai bowls, manuka honey, and other trendy foods, Benjamin Dariouch focuses on science-based nutrition, delicious healthy recipes (try his naturola!) and the impact of our food choices on our health and on the planet.
Hangover Cuisine features what you would expect from a YouTube channel with such a name: lots of not-so-healthy food.
Recipes include cheesy French classics like raclette , American recipes and lots of recipes you could use to cure your hangover.
The French subtitles make Hangover Cuisine one of the easiest French cooking YouTube channels to follow.
Launched in 2007, Hervé Cuisine claims to be the first French food channel launched on YouTube. It features lots of mouth-watering desserts such as a tarte au citron (lemon pie), macarons au chocolat (chocolate macarons) and a few savory recipes, including ones from other cultures,(Indian cheese naans, risotto…).
Some videos have English subtitles.
French YouTuber Alice Esmeralda is all about healthy vegan food.
Her channel is chock-full of ideas to lead a healthy lifestyle, such as meal prep and vegan alternatives to popular meat-based dishes.
Those are some of the most famous French and Francophone YouTubers, but there are lots more to discover.
If you still find understanding these Youtubers difficult, I highly recommend giving French Together a try!