Unscripted French TV Shows to Watch on Youtube, Prime and Netflix

May 11, 2024   TV, Films & Podcasts


We always tell our students who are eager to get more comfortable with French that the best way to make progress fast is to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Going all the way to France isn’t the only way to achieve that! We often recommend watching movies and series, but we’re now coming out with our first list of unscripted French TV shows that you can watch easily from the US. 

Of course, drilling grammar exercises and learning vocabulary is crucial, but don’t overlook how helpful casually watching a cooking competition or science show is! Getting to hear French people talk in casual conversations really makes a world of difference in your learning process. So grab your popcorn, cozy up on the couch, and prepare to embark on an entertaining journey through the world of French TV.

By Melissa Melendez

 

LOL : QUI RIT SORT

On Amazon Prime

Ten actors and comedians are gathered in a room for six hours. The catch? If they laugh, they’re eliminated. They all have to keep their cool to be the last one standing and win €50K for the charity of their choice. The cast is super diverse: Watch iconic comedic duo Éric et Ramzy, legendary actors like Gérard Darmon, cool social media stars and the newest generation of French stand-up comedians try to make each other break. This hilarious show is an excellent way to learn slang and funny French cultural references. I was also extremely impressed with the quality of translation of English subtitles Amazon Prime provided, which is pretty rare!

  • I would recommend starting with the second season. You can watch it HERE.
  • If you like watching French comedians and actors in funny situations, check out “Vendredi Tout est permis”!

 

LE MEILLEUR PATISSIER

On YouTube

Are you a fan of the Great British Baking Show but can’t wait for the fall for a new season? I have great news for you! “Le Meilleur Pâtissier” (lit. “The best pastry chef”) is the French version of the popular baking contest. Not only are all seasons available for free on YouTube, the episodes are almost two hours long! Instead of the star baker title, the coveted accolade in this tent is the tablier bleu (the blue apron), for which bakers compete fervently each week.

  • Watch the 2022 season HERE
  • If you’re a fan of cooking competition shows, you can also watch the French versions of Masterchef HERE and Topchef HERE

 

C’EST PAS SORCIER

On YouTube

Oh the feeling of seeing the TV get rolled into your classroom on a rainy day at school! If you happened to grow up in France in the 90s, chances are “C’est pas Sorcier” was your teacher’s pick. This educational show aired on French National TV from 1993 to 2014 and was extremely popular. In every 20 min episode, the beloved hosts Fred, Jamy and Sabine take you on a journey to discover and understand a specific subject in history, science, technology and so much more! You can think of it as the French version of “Bill Nye the Science Guy”.

  • Watch the episode about the solar system HERE
  • Watch the episode about artwork restoration HERE
  • Watch the episode about medieval castles HERE
  • If you’re interested in more science shows from the 90s, make sure to check out “Il était une fois la vie”!

 

SECRETS D’HISTOIRE

On YouTube

Calling all history nerds! Prepare to be enthralled by “Secrets d’Histoire,” a timeless French TV show delving into the lives of historical figures. Guided by host Stéphane Bern, the show takes you on a captivating journey through castles, museums, and libraries as you unravel the mysteries of pivotal events. Through insightful commentary and expert insights, “Secrets d’Histoire” clarifies the lives and the sometimes surprising backgrounds of figures who left their mark on history.

  • Watch the episode about the life of Marie-Antoinette HERE
  • Watch the episode about Napoleon HERE
  • If you love documentary-style shows about history and heritage, make sure to check out Des Racines et des Ailes as well!

 

The CIRCLE GAME (FRANCE)

On Netflix

People often describe reality TV as a guilty pleasure, but how guilty can you be if you’re watching it to improve your French? In this competition show, contestants live in the same building but are isolated from each other, communicating only through a social media app. They secretly rate each other, with the top two becoming “Influencers” and getting to decide who gets eliminated (“blocked”). Although slightly dystopian, this show is an interesting look into social dynamics and an excellent way to learn some slang!

  • You can watch the show HERE
  • If trash TV is your thing, let me take you back to the show that had 2000s France’s youth in a chokehold: Secret Story. All seasons are available on YouTube!

 

FORT BOYARD

On YouTube

“Fort Boyard” is a world of its own. A team of six players travels to an old military fort, just off the coast of l’Ile d’Oléron, where they undertake various physical and mental challenges: Escape games, riddles, face-your-fears, strength tests… The goal is to win a “treasure” (in boyards, the show’s fictional currency), in order to help a charity. The team, often made up of famous French personalities, is surrounded by the “population of the fort,” characters that enhance the mysterious and fantastical ambiance of the show.

  • Watch an episode with Miss France HERE
  • Watch an episode with French YouTubers Cyprien and Squeezie HERE

 

THE PARISIAN AGENCY

On Netflix

picture of Paris

Ever wondered what the inside of a Parisian penthouse overlooking the Eiffel Tower looks like? If you like Selling Sunset, the Parisian Agency is the show for you. In this series, viewers follow the Kretz family and their high-end real estate venture, assisting clients in purchasing and selling incredible properties both in France and internationally. Discover out-of-this-world real estate properties in Paris, Bordeaux, Brittany and even Marrakech!

  • Watch all three seasons HERE

 

Coming December 2024: 6pm in Paris

6pm in Paris

A premium streaming platform to learn French created by Coucou co-founder Léa Perret and Coucou former Director of education Julien Frei. Sharing the same philosophy and vision as Coucou, 6pm in Paris is its digital counterpart, offering Master Classes, short films and Original Shows to immerse yourself in the language and culture with the teachers you love!

  • While waiting for the official launch, check out their instagram account HERE for a sneak peek into the 6PM world!

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