Watching popular French TV shows on Netflix and Amazon is an excellent way to gain cultural fluency while honing vocabulary and listening skills.
Here are some of the best French series on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the US as of May 9, 2020. If you’re not in the US, click the title to check if the show is available in your country. If it’s not available, it’ll display an error or redirect to Netflix’s homepage.
Netflix originals will stick around, but watch the rest while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire.
I’ll be adding to this list regularly as I watch more French Netflix shows as part of my project to relearn French.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, try using French subtitles if available as studies show it enhances language learning.
I’m content if I can understand 80% of the dialogue with French subtitles and guess the rest from context.
If you can’t understand 80%, try watching a first time with English subtitles and then again with French.
This comedic gem has deservedly become a global Netflix hit. One of the best French shows for language learners.
At a top Paris talent firm, agents scramble to keep their star clients happy — and their business afloat — after an unexpected crisis. Each episode features at least one real-life French celebrity playing themselves.
Keep an ear out for colloquial expressions such as:
For more vocabulary explanations, watch innerFrench’s excellent video analysis of the beginning of the first episode (no spoilers).
No English subtitles available for YouTube trailer — click here to watch subtitled trailer on Netflix
In this unique social media popularity contest, online players try to flirt, bond, and catfish their way to a €100,000 prize.
It’s the perfect show to binge in self-quarantine because each contestant is isolated in their apartment, able to communicate only via social media.
While the show flashes gorgeous opening drone shots of France, players actually live in the same apartment building in Manchester, UK used for The Circle‘s American and British editions.
Contestants hail from a variety of locations. The culturally diverse cast included participants with Cameroonian, Moroccan, and Portuguese origins. My favorite player was Maxime/Valeria from Monaco!
The diversity of accents and slang make The Circle a great choice for French language learners.
Some argot (slang) you’ll hear on the show:
Super fun, addictive rom-com set in Paris.
Endearingly dorky Elsa is about to turn 30 and stuck in an boring job. Plus, she’s still hung up on her ex two years after their breakup. In a misguided attempt to renew Elsa’s faith in dating, her girlfriends secretly hire a male escort for her, with unexpected consequences.
The casting does a nice job representing the diversity of French society, with characters of Portuguese, Arab, African, and Spanish origin.
The first season has only six episodes of less than 30 minutes, making this an easy watch for language learners. Unfortunately, the second season is not nearly as good, and I didn’t finish it.
Colloquial expressions to listen for:
This fun spy comedy satirizes France’s secret service as well as French bureaucracy and colonialism.
At the height of the Cold War in 1960, André Merlaux is hired as a trainee at the French secret service. He soon becomes trapped in a web of global intrigue, absurd bureaucracy, and young love.
Amazon Prime members can stream these French television series for free in the US. Not a Prime member yet? Click here to start your free 30-day trial.
Unfortunately, Amazon Prime is weak in subtitle options compared to Netflix and usually only offers English.
This gripping police drama won a cult following for its gritty realism, superb acting, and complex storylines. It was broadcast in more than 70 countries.
Warning for sensitive viewers like me: The first episode is excessively gruesome. Hang in there, though. Subsequent episodes, while intense, are less graphic.
The word engrenage literally translates as “cogs” or “gears.” Figuratively, it can also mean a complex mechanism or an inescapable series of events. The English title Spiral derives from the phrase l’engrenage de la violence, a downward spiral of violence.
Lots of French swearing and slang in this noir crime thriller. To keep this post family-friendly, I’ve omitted the most offensive.
Also available on Hulu.
Have you been paying attention to my slang lists? If so, test your knowledge with this fun quick quiz. Try not to refer to the definitions above! 🙂
Have feedback on these French Netflix series or more suggestions? Some of my best French TV show recommendations come from readers!
Also, if you have any suggested additions or improvements for the French slang lists or the slang quiz, I would love to hear them. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
-- Banner image: Cécile de France in Dix pour cent (2015)
-- French slang quiz images from Plan Coeur © Netflix
Ingrid retired early from software engineering at 43 to devote herself to language learning and travel. Her goal is to learn a new language to fluency every two years. Currently, she speaks English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, and is learning French.