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Dive into French Culture

Top French Movies for Language Enthusiasts

By Memrise Content Team
Embark on a cinematic journey through the heart of France, right from your screen. If you've been charmed by the whimsical "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" or captivated by the hilarious antics in "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis", your adventure into French cinema is just beginning. Delve into an exquisite selection of French movies and TV shows on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, curated specially for language learners and cinephiles.

Our handpicked collection spans from the enchanting streets of Paris in "Paris je t'aime" to the historical laughs in "Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra". These titles are more than just entertainment — they're a gateway to enhancing your French language skills and understanding the cultural nuances that come alive with every scene.

Learning French through movies is an immersive experience that combines the pleasure of cinema with the practicality of language learning. Whether you're tuning in for the love of film or to sharpen your French language abilities, these selected movies and TV shows represent the crème de la crème of French-language media in 2023. Get ready to expand your vocabulary, perfect your accent, and dive deep into the narratives that make French cinema a jewel in the crown of global culture. Let the "film to help learn French" marathon begin, and prepare to discover your new favorite movie or show in this vibrant selection.

1. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

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Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001)

Synopsis: Amélie is a heartwarming tale that follows the whimsical adventures of Amélie Poulain, a young woman who discreetly orchestrates the lives of those around her to spread joy and happiness. Set in the picturesque Montmartre district of Paris, the film is a vibrant portrait of life and love.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The dialogue is clear and paced in a way that's accessible for French learners, providing a practical example of conversational French.
  • It offers a rich vocabulary associated with everyday life and French culture, enhancing cultural and linguistic understanding.

2. Intouchables (2011)

Genre: Biographical Drama

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Intouchables (2011)

Synopsis: The Intouchables tells the uplifting story of an unlikely friendship between Philippe, a wealthy quadriplegic, and Driss, a young man from the projects hired as his live-in caregiver. This poignant film explores themes of friendship, trust, and overcoming societal boundaries.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • It presents a variety of speaking styles, from the street slang used by Driss to the more refined language of Philippe, offering learners a broad exposure to French as it is currently spoken.
  • The movie tackles complex emotional and social themes, which can help in understanding conversational context and the subtleties of the language.
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3. Kirikou et la sorcière (1998)

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family

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Kirikou et la sorcière (1998)

Synopsis: This animated film tells the story of a fearless and inquisitive little boy, Kirikou, who sets out on a noble quest to save his village from the tyrannical sorceress Karaba. It's a magical journey into African folklore, full of vibrant imagery and enchanting music.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The simple and repetitive dialogue makes it easy to follow for learners, and helps reinforce basic language structures.
  • The story is interlaced with songs that are not only catchy but also introduce learners to various aspects of French phonetics and intonation.

4. OSS 117 : Le Caire, nid d'espions (2006)

Genre: Spy Comedy

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OSS 117 : Le Caire, nid d'espions (2006)

Synopsis: In this spoof of spy movies, suave and somewhat clueless French agent OSS 117 is sent to Cairo to investigate the disappearance of his fellow agent and friend, Jack Jefferson. Set in the 1950s, the film is a stylish and humorous take on international espionage.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The language used is a mix of formal and informal French, offering a wide spectrum of conversational phrases and vocabulary.
  • There's a play on various French stereotypes and historical references that can enhance cultural literacy alongside language skills.

5. Ma part du gâteau (2011)

Genre: Drama, Comedy

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Ma part du gâteau (2011)

Synopsis: The story follows France, a single mother from the port city of Dunkirk, who loses her job and moves to Paris to work as a housekeeper for Steve, a successful trader. A stark contrast in social classes sets the stage for a complex relationship between them.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • Dialogues in the movie reflect contemporary French society and workplace dynamics, making it relevant for learners who want to understand modern France.
  • The clear enunciation and the presence of social and economic terms can broaden the learner's vocabulary, especially in a professional context.
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6. La Fée (2011)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

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La Fée (2011)

Synopsis: In the port city of Le Havre, a hotel clerk named Dom encounters Fiona, a woman who claims to be a fairy and offers him three wishes. A quirky and charming love story unfolds as Dom seeks to make his dreams come true.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The dialogue, while whimsical, uses simple and commonly spoken French, making it easily digestible for French learners.
  • It includes a variety of French humor styles, including visual gags and wordplay, which can help learners better understand the nuances of the language.

7. Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (2008)

Genre: Comedy

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Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (2008)

Synopsis: This comedy explores cultural differences within France when Philippe Abrams, a post office manager from the South, is exiled to the Northern region. His preconceived notions about the North are challenged as he befriends the warm-hearted and endearing locals.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • It features a range of French accents and regional dialects, offering exposure to the diversity of the French language.
  • The film's humor often plays on words and cultural references, providing context for more advanced vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.

8. Paris, je t'aime (2006)

Genre: Romance, Drama

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Paris, je t'aime (2006)

Synopsis: This anthology film weaves together 18 short stories, each set in a different Parisian neighborhood. The shorts explore the many facets of love and the diverse experiences of various characters, all united by the common backdrop of Paris.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The film's varied narratives offer a wide range of vocabulary and dialogue styles, from poetic to colloquial speech.
  • Given its anthology structure, learners can benefit from short, manageable segments of French, ideal for practice and repetition.
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9. La Marche de l'empereur (2005)

Genre: Documentary

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La Marche de l'empereur (2005)

Synopsis: This heartwarming documentary captures the epic journey of Emperor penguins in Antarctica as they march — single file — to their traditional breeding ground. Narrated by Morgan Freeman in the English version, it's a stunning look at the trials and triumphs of these remarkable birds.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The narration provides clear, slow-paced speech, which can be easier for learners to understand and follow.
  • The documentary format is rich in descriptive language and introduces a specialized vocabulary related to nature and the environment.

10. La grande vadrouille (1966)

Genre: Comedy, War

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La grande vadrouille (1966)

Synopsis: During WWII, two ordinary Frenchmen, a house painter and a conductor, find themselves involved in the chaotic escape of British pilots from Nazi-occupied Paris. This classic comedy is known for its slapstick humor and has remained a beloved staple in French culture.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The dialogue is a mix of formal and colloquial French from the 1960s, offering a historical perspective on the language.
  • It provides a look into French humor and expressions from a past era, which can be fascinating for cultural enthusiasts.

11. Une vie de chat (2010)

Genre: Animation, Crime, Adventure

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Une vie de chat (2010)

Synopsis: This animated film noir follows a Parisian cat who lives a double life. By day, he is the pet of a little girl named Zoé. By night, he assists a burglar in spectacular heists across the rooftops of the city. The story unfolds with a thrilling mix of adventure, humor, and mystery.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The film's dialogue is clear and straightforward, making it suitable for language learners.
  • The narrative structure allows learners to encounter everyday language as well as more formal, narrative-driven speech.

12. Le jouet (1976)

Genre: Comedy

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Le jouet (1976)

Synopsis: A rich man buys a life-size toy for his son, which turns out to be a man, played by the French comic actor Pierre Richard. This satire of wealth and human relationships dives into the quirks of society and the value of human connection over material possessions.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The film uses humor to explore social dynamics, including a range of language from the formal speech of the elite to the informal banter of the working class.
  • It's an opportunity to hear conversational French in a comedic context, often highlighting the subtleties of French sarcasm and wit.

13. Les visiteurs (1993)

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy

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Les visiteurs (1993)

Synopsis: This comedic fantasy film follows a medieval knight and his squire who are transported to the modern world after a spell goes awry. The resulting culture shock and misunderstandings provide a humorous take on time travel and the clash of medieval and modern values.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • Features a mixture of modern French and archaic language, offering a contrast that can be both entertaining and educational.
  • The misunderstandings due to the time travel element are an amusing way to highlight differences in language and societal changes, aiding in cultural and historical understanding.

14. Ernest et Célestine (2012)

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama

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Ernest et Célestine (2012)

Synopsis: In a charming world where bears live above ground and mice live below, Ernest, a bear, and Celestine, a mouse, form an unlikely friendship that challenges societal norms. This heartwarming tale explores themes of friendship, art, and the breaking down of societal barriers.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • The dialogue is clear and simple, making it accessible for learners at all levels.
  • The film's narrative is complemented by visual cues, which can help in understanding the context and emotions behind the words used.

15. Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (2002)

Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Family

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Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (2002)

Synopsis: In this adaptation of the beloved comic book series, Asterix and Obelix are tasked with helping Cleopatra build a new palace for Caesar within three months. The duo embarks on a hilarious journey filled with magic potions and historical spoofs.

Why It's Good for Learning French:

  • Packed with puns, wordplay, and cultural references that provide insight into the French sense of humor and word usage.
  • The clear enunciation by characters and the vivid expressions help in understanding the spoken language and its comedic nuances.

Looking for the best French movies to learn French? Here are a few tips to help:

Immersive French Learning Through Film
Indulging in the best French movies is more than a cultural excursion — it's an immersive linguistic voyage. As you watch acclaimed French films, perhaps with English subtitles, you're engaging with more than just compelling narratives. You are enveloping yourself in the French language as it thrives in its most expressive form. Your mind actively forges links between the spoken words and their contextual meanings, providing a rich, unforgettable learning experience. Language craves context, and French cinema satisfies this craving exquisitely, positioning itself as an invaluable resource for French language acquisition.

Revisiting classics like "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" or contemporary hits like "Intouchables", each rated among the best French movies, unveils new facets of the language and culture upon every viewing. This is no ordinary movie night — it's a deliberate immersion strategy to learn French through film. So, prepare your favorite spot, press play, and immerse yourself in the language, one scene and one line at a time.
Why French Movies Are Educational Entertainment
Combining the allure of French cinema with the practicalities of language learning, French films offer a uniquely engaging educational experience. The top French movies serve a dual purpose — they entertain while they educate. As you dive into each movie, from the popular blockbusters to the critically acclaimed masterpieces, you're exposed to authentic conversational French that goes beyond the scope of traditional textbooks.

These films, rich with idiomatic expressions and cultural depth, transform every snippet of dialogue into a chance to learn. With a vast array of French-language movies available on streaming platforms, the path to bilingualism becomes more accessible and enjoyable. Whether it's the classic humor in "Les visiteurs" or the animated charm of "Ernest et Celestine", these movies are your gateway to fluency. Why not turn your next film session into a step toward mastering French? With this selection of top French movies, you're not just an audience member — you're an active learner.
Can I learn French by watching movies/TV shows?
Absolutely, watching movies and TV shows can be an effective method to supplement your French learning journey. It exposes you to the language as it's naturally spoken, complete with slang, colloquialisms, and regional accents. However, for the best results, it should be part of a broader learning strategy that includes formal studies, such as grammar lessons, vocabulary exercises, and speaking practice. Think of French films and series as a way to reinforce and build upon what you learn through more traditional methods.
How much time should I spend watching French movies?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It largely depends on your current level of French, your learning goals, and your overall schedule. Some language learners benefit from short, daily sessions, while others might prefer a few longer viewing periods throughout the week. The key is consistency and active engagement. Rather than passively watching, be sure to listen actively, repeat phrases, and even pause to look up new words. Remember, quality often trumps quantity when it comes to learning.
Are subtitles helpful?
Subtitles can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they're incredibly helpful for beginners, allowing you to follow along and understand the plot without missing key information. They can also aid in connecting spoken language to written text, enhancing vocabulary retention. On the downside, relying too heavily on subtitles may impede your listening skills development. As you progress, try to wean off subtitles to challenge your comprehension and improve your ability to understand spoken French.

Your Passport to French Culture and Conversation Awaits…

Captivated by the allure of French cinema and eager to delve deeper? Memrise stands at the crossroads of film enjoyment and language proficiency, beckoning you to a world where movie-watching merges with language learning. Memrise is not just about learning French; it's about living it through the films, TV shows, and cultural moments you cherish.
Take a look at the French video lessons we offer
With Memrise, scenes from beloved French classics and viral social media videos become the fabric of your personalized language lessons. We go beyond the subtitles, enabling you to grasp the subtle cultural nuances and authentic expressions woven into every dialogue. Whether it's a heartwarming scene from "Intouchables" or a witty exchange in "Le Caire, nid d'espions", Memrise empowers you to feel the pulse of French cinema — understanding every sentiment and nuance as intended.
International Museum of Cannes
The Last Asterix Movie Flop
Interview: Omar Sy
Trailer: Intouchables
Trailer: La Môme
Dix Pour Cent (Call My Agent)
Worst Boss (Call My Agent)
Scene from Call My Agent
Best 2023 French Actress
A Look On Avatar 2
2023 Césars And Feminism
The Dictator Analysis
Peaky Blinders Analysis
Disability And Cinema
The Message in Don't Look Up
H. Potter Meeting His Friends
Bradley Cooper Speaks French!
Adèle Exarchopoulos's Casting
Kirikou et la sorcière
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain
The Intouchables
OSS 117 : Le Caire, nid d’espions
Ma part du gâteau
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis
La grande vadrouille
Une vie de chat
Ernest et Celestine
Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra
Les visiteurs
Io Capitano - Trailer
Anatomy of a Fall - Trailer
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