Watching French TV is one of the best ways to learn vocabulary and improve your understanding of the French language and culture.
The only problem is that finding French TV channels you can watch online can be challenging, most of all if you don’t live in France.
That’s why I’ve done all of the hard work for you and created a list of the best French TV channels you can watch online. You’ll also find some Canadian and Belgian TV channels.
In some cases, you may need to install a VPN or subscribe to a French TV streaming service to avoid geographical restrictions though. That’s something I show you how to do in the first part of this article.
How to watch French TV channels from abroad
While there are French TV channels you can watch for free from abroad, most won’t be available by default.
When this happens, you will see a message like this:
That’s because most French channels can only be watched from France.
Luckily, there are several ways to avoid this problem.
Option #1: Use a VPN to watch French TV from abroad
One of the most common (and easiest) way to easily access any website and avoid geographical restrictions is using a VPN.
When you use a VPN, your connection goes through a distant server.
For example, if you are in San Francisco, you can use a
Then, all the websites will think you are in Paris, and you will have access to all the TV channels you couldn’t access before.
The bad news is that a good
The good news is that it won’t cost you more than your daily cup of coffee.
I recommend Proton VPN, it’s fast and reliable and allows you to easily watch French TV online.
Very useful when you want to access TV channels and websites with geographical restrictions.
All you have to do is sign up for an account, install the software and choose the location you want. Once this done, you can watch all French TV channels which are normally restricted to people located in France.
Lots of French TV channels can only be watched from France...unless you have a VPN! Proton VPN allows you to watch most French TV channels for free from anywhere in the world.
Option #2: Subscribe to a French TV streaming service
If you don’t want to bother with a VPN or want access to even more French TV channels, you can also use a French TV streaming service like Sling TV (US only).
When you subscribe to Sling TV’s French Bouquet Package, you get access to channels like:
- TV5Monde Style
- TV5Monde Cinéma
- TV5Monde Info
- France 24
- Tivi5Monde (for kids)
- BabyTV French
You can also stream some French TV channels on Roku but will most likely need a VPN if you are not in France.
Now let’s discover the main French TV channels!
3 French TV channels you can watch for free
There are, unfortunately, very few French TV channels you can watch online from abroad without a VPN or French TV streaming service.
Here are 3 French TV channels that are still free to watch from abroad. I keep this list updated but I can’t guarantee that they will still be free when you read this article.
This a TV channel specifically created for people living outside of France. Its mission is to cover world news from a French perspective.
It’s also one of the rare TV channels on this list to be available in several languages (French, English, Arabic).
You can also watch France24 live from abroad by going directly to the channel’s website.
BFM TV is a French TV channel dedicated to news and weather forecasts.
It’s also the most-watched French news TV channel and can be watched online from anywhere in the world.
La Chaîne parlementaire is a TV channel broadcasting activity from the National Assembly and Senate of France.
You can watch it online from anywhere in the world.
11 French TV channels you normally can’t watch from abroad
These are TV channels you normally can’t watch unless you live in France.
I say normally, because you can easily avoid geographical restrictions by installing a VPN software or subscribing to a French TV streaming service like Sling TV.
TV5Monde is a French language television network with local channels for many region of the world such as:
- TV5 Canada
- TV5MONDE Europe
- TV5MONDE Pacifique
- TV5MONDE États-Unis
You can’t watch it live from abroad but it’s available on Sling TV (US).
This TV channel offers programs both in French and in German.
Most of these programs are about culture, but Arte also broadcasts popular TV shows such as Breaking Bad.
If you speak German this is a great occasion to practice your French and you can easily watch the German version of the program if you didn’t understand something.
It’s unfortunately not available from abroad so you will need to use a VPN to watch it.
Euronews is a European TV channel on which you can watch programs about news, culture, technology and many other interesting topics.
The language is pretty formal, but each video comes with a transcript you can download, which makes Euronews one of the very best French TV channels to improve your French.
You can’t watch it live from abroad without a VPN but individual videos are still available.
Eurosport is a European TV channel dedicated to sports.
It’s available in 54 countries and 20 languages which makes it particularly useful if you don’t understand something.
As one of the main Belgian TV company, RTBF owns several TV channels and a large variety of programmes you can watch live online if you live in Belgium.
France TV (formerly Pluzz)
France TV allows you to watch French public TV channels online in real time or a few hours after they aired.
You can watch all kinds of programs, including French TV channels for kid, which is a great start if you are a beginner in French and don’t understand more serious topics.
TF1 is the most popular French TV channel with a 19.2% market share in 2020 according to Statista.
It offers a broad varieties of popular French and American TV shows such as Arrow (one of my favorite shows); Grey’s Anatomy and The Mentalist.
M6 is another popular TV channel.
It broadcasts news, shows and series such as the hilarious French series Kaamelott.
As the biggest public French Tv channel, France2 offers a large variety of shows including news and culture, but also TV series and movies.
Unfortunately, like most publish French TV channels, you can’t watch it live from abroad without a VPN.
France3 is a public French channel with a focus on educational and cultural content.
It’s also a regional TV channel which means the content depends on the region.
This is public channel targeting a younger audience with lots of entertaining content (movies, TV series, music etc).
France5’s mission is to share knowledge which is why you’ll find lots of documentaries and educational content on this channel.
It’s quite similar to Arte in that regard.
France Ô is the French TV channel of overseas departments such as Guadeloupe and Martinique.
You can watch it live online if you use a VPN or live in France.
i-Télé is a French TV channel dedicated to news.
It’s usually one of the fastest channels to report news as they happen.
Gulli is a TV channel broadcasting cartoons and TV shows for children including some international shows like Adventure Time.
You can watch it online using Play TV or watch most shows after they were aired using the official website.
Play TV is an online streaming website you can use to watch a broad selection of French TV channels online including:
- France 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Canal +
Unfortunately, not all French TV channels can be watched from abroad. In some cases, you may need to either use a VPN or subscribe to a French TV streaming service.
Over to you
Do you watch French TV? What’s your favorite French TV channel? Answer in the comments below this article!