Are you ready to channel surf in French? Channel surfing, also known as le zapping, is a French pastime that can be done from the comfort of your couch. There are numerous options for watching French TV online. All you need to know is where to go!

Watch French TV Online Through Individual Channel Websites

Individual French channels stream portions of their programs online. Learn about the most popular French channels and what they are known for, so you can choose some entertaining programs to watch.

Canal+

Canal+ is a private channel that broadcasts some of the best original programs in France. The best online shows to watch here are their “news” shows, which mock the nightly news in the same way that John Stewart or Stephen Colbert do in the United States.

Le Petit Journal features a journalist conducting amusing interviews with serious people ranging from Front National politician Jean-Marie Lepen to Anna Wintour. At the same time, Les Guignols de l’Info presents the nightly — and weekly — news entirely with marionettes. The latter is worth seeing, if only because a marionette in the striking likeness of Sylvester Stallone plays nearly every American (with a few exceptions for current and former presidents and other well-known faces).

Parts of the overarching show Le Grand Journal, which contains these amusing little segments, are also available. While this series has the same lighthearted spirit as Les Guignols and le Petit Journal, it is a little more serious.

TV5MONDE

TV5MONDE is one channel available through certain cable providers, allowing you to watch French TV on your TV! If you do not have TV5MONDE, you can still access this wealth of information from your computer.

Several types of short videos are available, such as the court du jour (short of the day), which provides a 3-minute video on a current idea or event. It also includes flash information, which provides you with the inside scoop on the day’s news in a bite-sized format. Both choices are excellent if you do not have time for a lengthy video but still want to keep up with the latest French news!

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Arte

Arte Platform is a Franco-German television network known for its artistic and frequently avant-garde films and shows. Arte has a VOD platform where users can digitally borrow films and shows from their library. Classic French cinema and documentaries are available, as are TV shows such as Xanadu, about a family who runs a sexual empire.

Watch French TV Via Netflix

Netflix allows you to watch various French TV shows and movies on your computer! Some of the best options available right now are:

  • “Les Choristes,” a modern classic released in the early 2000s but with a decidedly old-school French cinema feel. The story of a music professor teaching at an all-boys French boarding school is told in this film. In case you are curious, the kids touch him just as much as he touches them. Aside from the clichés, this film has a fantastic original score and excellent acting.
  • “La Vie d’Adèle,” also known as “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” is a coming-of-age story about a girl’s journey through love and discovering her sexual identity.
  • “Les Femmes du 6e étage,” a documentary about the 1960s construction policies of Paris’ Haussmanien classics. The sixth floor was set aside for maid’s quarters, many of which were occupied by Spanish immigrants fleeing Franco’s regime. This film investigates what occurs when the invisible lines between the fifth and sixth floors are crossed.
  • “Les Intouchables” is heartwarming in the French tradition. Based on a true story, this film examines what happens when a wealthy Parisian quadriplegic hires a poor young man from the suburbs as his aide and assistant.

Watch French TV On YouTube

YouTube is your best bet for old-school French TV that may no longer be available elsewhere.

And if you have ever wondered what Saved By the Bell would have been like if it were set in France, you should watch “Hélène et Les Garçons.” This show delves into the lives of university students in Paris, including their loves, music, and friendships. It is exactly as corny as it sounds, which makes it ideal.

If you prefer cartoons, “Le Petit Monde de Tom Sawyer” is ideal. This animated series delves into the life of Mark Twain’s well-known character. The introduction, in particular, is sure to make Americans laugh, as Tom Sawyer is described as “he has no fear, he is an American!” (“He is not scared of anything because he is an American!”) and “He enjoys school, especially when it is far away.” (“He enjoys going to school, especially when it is far away.”) This show is not French, but it is so popular with the French that you will find it even more common in its dubbed version than in the original version.

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Watch French Clips (And More French Media) On FluentU

If you want the versatility of YouTube but with a much higher level of consistency, try FluentU. This language learning program is built around authentic French videos, such as movie and television show clips, and more diverse content, such as news segments, music videos, vlogs, inspirational talks, and more.

FluentU features short clips from TV shows such as Asterix and Peppa Pig, the National Geographic series, and the French drama “Eva,” to name a few.

FluentU aims to make native French videos available to learners of all levels. It accomplishes this by categorizing its clips by difficulty and topic and incorporating numerous learning tools into the program.

For example, as the video plays, you can hover over or click on any word to pause the action and see an instant definition. You can create a flashcard for any word and see example sentences, clips from other videos where the word is used, audio pronunciation of almost anything, and much more. You can also take quizzes that adapt to your learning and show you words at intervals calculated to help you remember them based on your current learning level.

Post-video quizzes, transcripts, keyword lists, and other resources are also available. FluentU can be accessed via the website or the iOS / Android app.

Watch French TV On VOD Via Eurocinema

Eurocinema is great if you watch French movies and TV shows online but want to stay on Netflix. It is available to viewers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. You’ll find a diverse selection of films that would not otherwise be available to American audiences, and new films are added regularly, so you’ll always have something new to watch.

The added benefit of Eurocinema is that you’ll frequently find European options from countries other than France, so if you’re looking to branch out on FluentU and learn yet another European language, Eurocinema could be a good idea for more than one reason!

Final Words

No more zapping necessary! You now have everything you need to sit back, relax, and learn French while watching French TV online.