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How To Watch French TV Online (+12 Methods)

How To Watch French TV Online (+12 Methods)

To give language learners a helping hand, we’ve compiled a guide on how to watch French TV online. Ideal for anyone looking to spice up their viewing schedule or get some helpful French lessons wrapped up in engaging drama à la française.

Watching TV

How To Watch French TV Online

French TV you can watch for free

Most guides covering how to watch French television in the US jump to streaming services or using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to watch shows direct from France.

But you can see and hear French being spoken on several free-to-view online channels:

BFMTV – World news, in French and with a French perspective.

France 24 – France 24 switches to English when accessed from States. But it dives deep into the news from France. Useful for cultural insights.

Arte – A French-German collaboration, Arte (Association relative à la télévision européenne) is a popular arts and culture channel. A small selection of their programming is available across the Atlantic. You can switch between French and English, making it useful for language learners.

TV5Monde – View a small number of French language videos from TV5Monde online.

You can also sign-up via Sling ($15 monthly) and get 7 French language channels on TV5MondePlus. With 10,000+ shows, it is the most extensive catalog of French shows and TV in the US.

Use a VPN to access French TV

A top tip on how to watch French TV online is to use a VPN and spoof the geo-blockers.

A quality VPN like NordVPN opens up a world of possibilities. Switching to a French server means you can watch local channels like a resident.

Prime channels like France 2 and TF1 ask for an email address, but you can quickly set up an account and watch live TV or replays.

If you have any young learners in your household, check out the cartoons on Gulli.

You can even switch up the offerings on streaming services and see that people are France are watching on Netflix et al. Although, fair warning, this is interdit (forbidden.)

French TV on Streaming Services

Netflix has a stellar collection of French shows. Narrow by original language (web only) or by tapping “French shows” into search.

Netflix has its hands on several tp-tier shows like Lupin or Dix Percent (Ten Percent, but better known as, Call my agent.) Plus, a laundry list of comedy shows, documentaries, offbeat films, and reality TV.

Oh, and Emily in Paris if you want to learn how not to speak French!

Language learners can transform any Netflix original into French by switching to dubbed versions. And mix up the subtitles (English subs, French audio) to aid learning.

Amazon’s Prime Video, Hulu, and Apple TV offer much less. And they don’t make it as easy to find French originals.

But there are a few shows to be found, like The Awakening on Apple TV (originally Éternelle) and the comic competition “Lol, Qui rit, sort! on Prime Video (Last one laughing.)

Of course, on Amazon, you can rent or buy many of France’s finest shows — Engrenages (aka Spiral) is one to watch — alongside French cinematic classics. The Maid of Orlans has inspired several, which you can read about in our pick of 6 movies about Joan of Arc.

Lingopie

Aimed squarely at language learners, Lingopie helps you brush up on your French without jumping on a Transatlantic flight.

Lingopie helps by adding dual subtitles to tv shows. Use your existing Netflix account or access a wide selection of French shows from Newen, a subsidiary of France’s primary network channel, TF1.

France Channel

A handy solution for French media fans recently landed online, with a compelling selection of shows and movies in one place: France Channel.

What it lacks in naming originality is offset by a vast library of French shows from all genres.

OSS 117, Éternelle, and Cain are just some of the highlights. They even have France’s first soap opera, the inexplicably popular Demain nous appartient (Tomorrow is ours.)

There’s a 7-day free trial, so worth checking out.

French shows on YouTube

YouTube is a reliable resource for finding old French programs, clips from modern shows, and a flood of French user-generated content (plus plenty of shows about France in English.)

In no particular order, here’s a handful of our favorite French language channels on YouTube:

Des Racines et des Ailes – an epic selection of history and culture documentaries.

Secrets de l’Histoire – French history in French. Absolument fascinant!

PalmashowTrès drôle.

Balade Mentale – The universe explained in French. One for curious minds and advanced learners.

France 24 – Catch the news in French with archives and a live channel. Unlike their website, this doesn’t auto-switch to English.


And that’s a wrap.

All the ways to watch French TV online without being in France.

Mix them all up, and there are numerous options for kicking back and enjoying French TV and cinema. Amusez-vous bien!

Discover more:

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Dan Forsythe
A politics and history graduate with a technical writing background and based in France, Dan writes amazing articles for all things French. An insatiable traveler, Dan has crisscrossed France, Europe, and beyond. When he’s not hiking or falling down historical rabbit holes, Dan sips tea and writes technical pieces or blog posts about travel, history, and life in his adopted home.

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Dan Forsythe

A politics and history graduate with a technical writing background and based in France, Dan writes amazing articles for all things French. An insatiable traveler, Dan has crisscrossed France, Europe, and beyond. When he’s not hiking or falling down historical rabbit holes, Dan sips tea and writes technical pieces or blog posts about travel, history, and life in his adopted home.

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