Choose a few must-see French movies from the list below and start practicing your language skills!
Movies, books, radio programs, and even cartoons are excellent ways to practice French even if you don’t understand it all the first round. Just be patient with yourself until you get used to intonations and pronunciation.
Remember it’s ok if it’s hard at first. Eventually, your ear will get used to it, and you’ll have your favorite must-see French movie list of your own!
MUST SEE FRENCH MOVIE SET IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
LE MAL DE PIERRES (2016)
The Cannes Film Festival presented this touching must-see french movie in 2016.
It’s the story of Gabrielle, a young woman who lives in Provence with her parents. After a forced marriage, she longs for something more powerful in her life. She meets a man during a thermal cure in the Savoie region.
Nicole Garcia filmed this must-see French movie in various areas of the south of France, including the quaint village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and the Plateau de Valensole known for its abundant lavender fields.
LE HUSSARDS SUR LE TOIT (1995)
Adapted from a novel by French writer Jean Giono, the book, and this must-see French movie go by the same name.
Set in the 1800s during a cholera epidemic, it’s the story of a young woman, the beautiful and talented Juliette Binoche, who has to urgently get back on the road to her castle and her husband.
On the way, she meets a young Italian renegade.
Jean-Paul Rappeneau filmed scenes of this adventurous love story in the PACA region.
LA GLOIRE DE MON PÈRE
This film —is an absolute must-see French movie adapted from Marcel Pagnol’s stories.
Watch La Gloire de Mon Père, and be transported back in time to Marcel Pagnol’s family.
The story traces his childhood, his relationship with his father, a teacher in Marseille, and the rest of his immediate and extended family members.
This film was adapted from Pagnol’s autobiographical novel: Souvenirs d’Enfance.
Filmed in the gorgeous Luberon region, make sure to watch this must-see french film for its touching story and beautiful scenery.
LE CHÂTEAU DE MA MERE (1990)
This movie is the sequel to La Gloire de Mon Pere (above).
When the family goes on vacation in Provence, the young adolescent learns about life and meaningful relationships.
UN SAC DE BILLES (1975)
This extremely powerful movie about how to survive in 1942, tells the story of 2 young Jewish brothers who flee Paris to escape Vichy’s antisemitic laws during the war.
Together they try to make their way to Menton in the south of France.
Their only aim is to be once again reunited with their family.
MUST-SEE FRENCH MOVIES SET IN PARIS
When most people think of France, they think of Paris.
Although some of these movies are full of creative imagination and not the least realistic, they give visitors a glimpse of Paris through beautiful images.
Enjoy these must-see French movies and explore different neighborhoods, rooftops, and details that you’d probably miss on a short visit.
Complete title of this French classic: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain.
Take a tour of Paris with the lonely Amelie and her overactive imagination. Yet at the same time, she tries to find beauty in small things.
Filmed in over 80 locations all over Paris, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
PARIS, JE T’AIME (2006)
This film has such an incredible array of actors and an in-depth view of several Paris neighborhoods.
Many stories unfold in parallel – on purpose and by chance – and it all intertwines into a human patchwork experience.
Hugo, a young orphan boy lives in the clocktower of a large Paris railway station: Gare Montparnasse.
Through his eyes, we get glimpses of Paris and zoom in on specific details that would otherwise be impossible to see for real.
The film, directed by Martin Scorsese won 5 Academy Awards and is truly a cinematographic gem.
Disney’s story is about a little mouse whose ultimate passion is cooking.
An animated delight, delicious-looking food, funny moments, and eye-opening revelations.
All with a gorgeous Paris backdrop.
Both kids and adults love this movie.
LA VIE EN ROSE (2007)
Marie Cotillard embodies Edit Piaf, an incredible singer and french icon.
The film portrays the singer’s life in Paris and spans her extreme ups and downs, relationships, love of music, and her rise to fame.
LES MISERABLES (2019)
Presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, this Oscar-winning film talks about extremely important and sensitive topics such as police violence, social integration, racism, and inequality.
Ladj Ly’s first film portrays a particular side of a troubled France and is worth watching.
The film leaves these words for the spectator to reflect on..
« Mes amis, retenez ceci :
il n’y a ni mauvaises herbes,
ni mauvais hommes,
il n’y a que de mauvais cultivateurs. » Victor Hugo
Who doesn’t know the original Les Miserables? A long and intricate classic novel by Victor Hugo set in 19th-century France.
Watch this must-see French movie until you have time to read the book. The story revolves around the life of Jean Valjean, a young peasant, who steals a piece of bread and spends 19 years in jail paying for it.
The intricacies of the story unfold once he gets out of jail.
BEST MOVIES SET ELSEWHERE IN FRANCE
BELLE ET SÉBASTIEN
Nicolas Vanier gave us a great gift with this must-see french children’s movie, although all adults admit they love it!
This beautiful, inspiring story will probably move you to tears at one point or another and also have you cheering at the same time.
It’s the story of an orphan boy who lives in the mountains with a grumpy caretaker.
One day, the boy meets Belle, a dog that will change his life.
An excellent movie based on a true story. It’s all about contrasts and genuine friendships between a tetraplegic man and the young man with a criminal record he hires to help him.
With over 19 million tickets sold, it’s safe to say it was a box office hit with the French people.
It even surpassed Amelie, which was another big hit here in France as well.
LES CHORISTES (2004)
A favorite among the French, this movie takes place in a boy’s boarding school.
Its focus is on a particular boy who has the voice of an angel and always gets in trouble. His teacher forces him to join the choir.
The touching relationship between the teacher and his students contrasts the headmaster’s idea of education via physical punishment.
LE CHOCOLAT (2001)
In 1959, Juliette Binoche and her daughter arrived in a small French village to take over and manage a chocolate shop.
The villagers, set in their rigid ways, refuse to give her a warm welcome.
Adapted from a novel by Joanne Harris, the film exposes the difficulties of arriving in a small village community and shows how people learn to change.
LE DINER DE CONS
Le Diner de Cons is a French classic with more than 8 million tickets sold for this must-see French movie.
It’s a film about colleagues who designate, invite and set up a trap for a “con” coworker (an idiot of sorts).
The French love this movie, maybe because of the type of humor that entails making others fun.
Thankfully, the story develops into something more.
IMPROVE YOUR FRENCH
Start with a few of these must-see French movies to improve your language practice.
I suggest you turn on subtitles, they help to get used to certain sounds, intonations, and pronunciation.
Depending on the actor’s accent or what level of French you have, some dialogues may be hard to follow so subtitles do help, and over time, you will make progress.
You can find French movies on Netflix and Amazon. Also, check your local library and streaming platforms.
Start by choosing the movie that most appeals to you. It’s essential that you have an interest in the story and not just watch it because it’s a must-see French movie. If you don’t like the genre you won’t practice French efficiently.
Also, accept that you may not understand the entire movie.
It’s not so easy, and that’s just fine!
Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just enjoy the movie and repeat if necessary.
Practice practice. That’s the only way to learn and improve your language skills.