The secret is out: you can become fluent from your couch (or your bed, if you’re anything like me :D). All you have to do is open Netflix, Amazon, YouTube or some other websites.
In this post, I’ll introduce you to eight different websites where you can find great French movies to watch (because we are so done having everyone and their grandma suggesting the same old tired French movies in every.single. French movie post. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, anyone?).
Okay, ready? Let’s dive in.
You will find a lot of movie recommendations on www.allocine.fr. You can choose the categories and filters you like and Allocine will display a list of best rated movies from the criteria you selected. Just be aware that if you don’t specify the country (France), it will also give you international results, American movies in particular. So, if you’re looking for French movies, make sure to check that box in the “Pays” (Country) section on the left.
You can also view countless trailers of upcoming movies or movies that are currently being shown in French cinemas. So you can stay up to date and put on your watchlist any French movies you’d like to watch.
Another smart way to find French movies to watch, is to look up some famous French actors’ filmography on Wikipedia. Many of these movies will have a Wikipedia page of their own, giving you not only a summary of the movie but also a big list of other actors starring in that movie. And so the Wikipedia rabbit hole begins. You can click endlessly from movie titles to actor names, check their filmography, discover new movies and new actors, etc.
When looking for French movies on Wikipedia, do make sure you’re browsing in the French version of the site. You will have a lot more results. However, it may also be useful to switch a movie’s page to English to make out the English title of that movie so you know what to look for and order (or stream) on Amazon or any other multimedia store in your country.
Stuck getting started? Here are a few big household names (famous French actors) you can look for on Wikipedia:
Speaking of rabbit holes, the biggest one on the internet is probably YouTube. That road is a little messier but you can also find great French trailers and movies that way.
First, pick a French movie title you’ve already seen or want to see and the French word for “trailer”: “bande-annonce”.
So, say you’ve discovered Intouchables, just type “Intouchables bande-annonce” in the YouTube search bar. Then just click on one of the suggested trailers in the search results (or look for the “bande-annonce officielle”). As soon as you’re on the trailer page, YouTube is going to suggest many other French movie trailers. You can open all those that interest you in another tab, etc. and so the YouTube rabbit hole begins.
Of course, there will also often be the possibility to buy or rent a French movie straight from YouTube. However, before you purchase, make sure the movie can be watched in the original French version (audio) and has French and English subtitles available. It’s not always the case I think.
Feeling stuck? Here are a few French Cinema Channels on YouTube where you can check out many French movie trailers:
4. Amazon, Netflix and Apple TV
Of course, you can always look for French movies on Amazon, Netflix or Apple TV, but unfortunately, not all movie trailers you find on YouTube, Wikipedia or Allocine will be available for you to watch on Amazon, Netflix & Co.
I’ve especially found that most French movies available on Netflix aren’t that great (but better than nothing, of course). Amazon Prime Video has a really good selection of French movies. There are a handful of good French movies available for free with your Amazon Prime subscription, but if you want to watch really good French movies, you’ll usually have to either buy or rent them.
Again, before buying or renting a French movie on Amazon (or anywhere else), make sure to check that the original French version is available (in French we say VO for “version originale”).
I recently discovered that you can watch French movies on www.canalplus.com (a popular French cable TV channel) even if you don’t live in France. Not sure yet if it works outside the EU but do give it a try, it’s really worth it.
Registering is absolutely free. Once you’re registered, you can watch so many French movies and TV shows. You can either browse the catalogue or look for specific movies and TV shows in the search bar.
Most movies cost 2.99€ (approx. $3.65) to rent in SD quality and slightly more in HD. Alternatively, you can subscribe for a monthly fee that starts at around 20€ / month and goes up to 35€ / month, depending on what you would like to include in your subscription.
Just register and give it a try.
(Note: There are only French subtitles available and strangely enough, it seems they don’t work for all movies…But again, just give it a try. It’s totally risk-free since you don’t have to subscribe if you don’t want to.)
Arte.tv is a fabulous French-German TV channel that has since expanded its languages to English, Spanish and a few more. You can find many interesting documentaries, reports and movies on that site. It’s a heavily culture, history and geography-focused channel, so the movies you will find there will often be classic, international, deep or unusual.
Be aware that in classic or old movies, actors often speak differently and don’t always pronounce words as clearly as they do in modern movies. And the sound isn’t always crisp and clear like learners need it to be. But don’t let this keep you from giving it a try. Not all of them are like that. Just know that in case you find yourself struggling to understand them, it’s probably because of that.
(Personally, I’ve often watched Audrey Hepburn’s movies with English subtitles because she has a way of speaking and pronouncing words that sometimes made me miss some words.)
Finally, you can go all out and go looking for French movies where many French people go to buy theirs: la FNAC. (pronounced “fnac”! :D) It’s probably the biggest French multimedia store. You’ll find lots of DVDs, CDs, books, children’s books, comic strips, etc. on their website. This is great if you’re feeling a little lost or would like to find some different, fresh and originally French – whether reading, listening or watching material.
Shop where the French shop! Or just find a few new titles and try ordering them on Amazon or your local bookstore. However, I found that for Americans and Canadians, shopping directly from FNAC’s store (including their shipping fee, which is around $10-$15 I think) is often cheaper than ordering the same books, DVDs, etc. on Amazon.com because they often cost twice as much there.
Bonus: English Movies dubbed in French
Finally, this is not another resource, but a tip and trick that I rarely hear anyone mention, let alone use: watch English (or other international) movies dubbed into French. It might be more difficult for you to find an English movie with a French audio option, but it can be worth looking (and listening!) into.
The reason being that English movies dubbed into French often have clearer pronunciation than French movies. Of course, it sounds more artificial than original French and perhaps the mismatching lip movements may throw you off in the beginning, but still give it a try. If you already know the movie, it’s even better. You can anticipate what will happen, what the characters will say and that will help you focus on the French language learning aspect.
Of course, it will sound hilarious to hear Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington or Jennifer Aniston speak French, but you never know! You might find this very helpful. Also, don’t underestimate the power of watching children’s cartoons in French. At least give it a try. 🙂
Don’t leave without this helpful resource: The Binge-Watcher’s Guide to French for Movies & TV Series. It’s a 5-page glossary with words and expressions very commonly used in spoken French (and thus in movies and TV series) that you will rarely find in any textbook.
Do you know of any other websites where you can find great French movies to watch? If so, make sure to tell us in the comment section below!
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch – I’ll do my best to answer!
To your success,