The Best French TV Shows to Explore France Like a Local


Are the TV shows that you’re watching actually giving you a clear and accurate picture of French culture, French life, and the modern French language? Perhaps you’ve noticed that, like a lot of French people, I am not a big fan of the Netflix series Emily in Paris, mostly because it’s very fictionalized and doesn’t show you the REAL Paris.

If you’re someone who wants to explore France like a local, I want to introduce you to some of my favorite French TV shows for doing exactly that. I’ll explain how these shows give you a local perspective, and as a bonus, we’ll learn the proper pronunciation for some cities and regions in France that are covered by these programs. C’est parti!

1) French TV shows to discover France: Cuisine Ouverte
2) French TV shows to discover France: Le Tour de France
3) French TV shows to discover France: Le Journal Télévisé
4) French TV shows to discover France: Échappées Belles
5) French TV shows to discover France: Des Racines & des Ailes

Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?

1) French TV shows to discover France: Cuisine Ouverte

Watch Cuisine Ouverte online with TV5 Monde USA

Cuisine Ouverte is une émission de télé (= a TV program) that started in 2020. The title literally means “open kitchen.” Because it’s both in open air, and open to world influences. Just like its host, chef Mory Sacko who cooks dishes inspired by different traditions – while still using local French ingredients.

In that YouTube extract from the show, Sacko invited a local small farmer to show his products from the area. They’re the kind of vegetables you’ll really find in local markets all across the country.

They’re en Ardèche, a beautiful region in the center of France. The farm is called “Le Champ du Fort.”

Pronunciation time : “Ardèche”

French R : Ardèche → Learn more: French R
French “è” : Ardèche → Learn more: French “e / é / è” sounds
“Sh” sound: Ardèche

Regions (like “Ardèche”) are feminine nouns (…except for exceptions). Here it doesn’t matter, because both “La” (feminine) and “Le” (masculine) become “L’ ” before a vowel.
“La Ardèche” → L’Ardèche.

When talking about a region (in the feminine), we use “en.” And never “à” (that one is only for cities.)
Je suis en Ardèche. Je vais en Ardèche. → I’m in Ardèche. I’m going to Ardèche.
Je suis à Paris. Je vais à Paris. → I’m in Paris. I’m going to Paris.

Before a vowel, “en” gets a “liaison” and the final “n” is pronounced.
Learn more: French liaison

Pronunciation time: “Le Champ du Fort”

Click here to visit the official website of “Le Champ du Fort”

Silent “p”, silent “t” : Le Cham(p) du For(t)
French nasal vowel: Le Champ du FortLearn more: French “en” sound

Also a French R in “Fort.”

Champ means “field.” It sounds like “chant” (= song, with a silent “t”)
Un fort means “a castle / stronghold.” We also say “un château fort” for these medieval strongholds (and not, say, the palace of “Château de Versailles”.) “Fort” is also an adjective: “strong.”

Le Champ du Fort = “The field of the castle.”

2) French TV shows to discover France: Le Tour de France

Le Tour de France – Official YouTube Channel (in French and in English)
Watch Le Tour de France in the US (in English)

Le Tour de France is a very famous bike race all around the country.
Even if you’re not a big fan of cycling, it can be a fun way to see real images of France, and of French people ! Unlike scripted TV shows, Le Tour doesn’t stay in Paris, and will show you stuff from all around France instead.

In that daily highlight for instance, they were were en Bretagne (= in Brittany), entre Redon et Fougères (= between the towns of “Redon”, and “Fougères”)
Learn more: La Bretagne (Comme une Française)

Pronunciation time: “Entre Redon et Fougères”

  • Entre (= between) → Nasal vowel “en” + French “R” + light French “e” (“uh”) sound before a consonant, like here
  • Redon: French “R” + nasal vowel “on” + “uh” sound
  • Fougères: “g” with the vowel “e” or “i” right after → soft “g”, like “jjj.” Silent “s”. French “R” sound.

Une fougère also means “a fern.”

3) French TV shows to discover France: Le Journal Télévisé

Click here to watch: TV5 Monde, the international French TV channel

Le journal télévisé / Le journal télé / le JT = the TV news broadcast

Watching the news from French TV can be a good way to hear real people talking.

Here’s an extract from French news, from public television station “France 2,” about a light topic: buying Christmas presents, à Bordeaux, en Gironde.

Click here to watch: Le journal télévisé de France 2 – À Bordeaux, la course aux cadeaux de Noël

This segment was filmed. Oh, let’s stop on that as well!

Pronunciation time: “à Bordeaux, en Gironde”

La Gironde is a river in South-Western France – it’s also the name of the area around it.
Again: soft “g” before “i” + French R + nasal vowel “on.”
→ It’s a feminine noun, and an area, so we say “en Gironde.”

Bordeaux is a city on the West coast, famous for its fine French wine, especially red wines. It looks scary to pronounce, but it’s not that hard:

  • Bord” (= “near, edge, shore”) has an open “o” and a French R. The “d” is usually silent, but not here inside a word.
  • Eaux” is the plural of “eau” (= water) with a silent “x”. It simply sounds like “o” ! → Learn more: French vowel sounds

If you take it apart, it actually means “near the waters,” which is a fitting name for a port!

And keep in mind: we use “à” for cities, “en” for regions.

There’s one famous exception though: with say en Avignon (= in the city of Avignon.) For instance:

Je suis allée voir le Palais des Papes, en Avignon.
(= I went to see the Palace of Popes in Avignon.)

Je suis en Avignon pour le célèbre festival de théâtre.
(= I’m in the city of Avignon for the famous theater festival.)

4) French TV shows to discover France: Échappées Belles

Échappées Belles is a cultural travel program that will show you places to see and people to meet in different parts of France. They also travel to different countries in some episodes.

Click here to watch “Échappées Belles” on Youtube

Some examples:
La Loire des jardins – Échappées belles – YouTube
Faire du vélo en Champagne – Échappées belles – YouTube

In that last example, they’re à Reims, en Champagne.

Pronunciation time: “à Reims, en Champagne.”

Reims is a small French city. The words looks scary, but it’s easy! It’s:
French R + French nasal vowel “in” + “s” sound not silent.

Here, “un” / “in” is spelled “eim” and it’s a rare spelling for that sound.
It’s pronounced just like je rince” (= I rinse off.)

La Champagne is a feminine noun for the area, somewhere East of Paris. In the masculine, le champagne is the sparkling wine that’s made in the region. It’s pronounced:
Champ (see above in “Cuisine Ouverte” !) + “p” sound + –agne (as in “Bretagne”)

Extra resource:
¨Reims¨ – Louis Garrel – from the movie “Les Bien-Aimes” (2011) from director Christophe Honoré.
→ Check out everything in there, I’m a big fan of all:

  • the song,
  • the (very French) actor Louis Garrel,
  • the movie “Les Bien-Aimés” (= The Well-Loved, the Beloved), a musical drama,
  • the director Christophe Honoré: “Les Chansons d’Amour”, “Chambre 212”

The title is a pun. “Une échappée” is a fancy word for “an escapade” – or for someone getting ahead of the pack in a race. So the title means literally “beautiful escapades.” But it’s also a reminder of the expression l’avoir échappé belle (= making a narrow escape.) As in “Je l’ai échappé belle !” (= I barely avoided it / I made a narrow escape / I dodged a bullet.)

5) French TV shows to discover France: Des Racines & des Ailes

Click here to watch “Des Racines et des Ailes” on YouTube

Des Racines & des Ailes means “Roots and wings” – for the roots of tradition and history, and the wings of discovery and beautiful aerial shots.

Example of a show: Du Cotentin au Pays de Saint-Malo – Émission intégrale

In there, you can get beautiful French landscapes and meet real people for lunch, then travel to a coastal city and learn its history, and visit the villa of French designer Christian Dior. And get an inside look into a French restaurant serving oysters and other delicious dishes !

If you go just a bit further North, you’ll be: à Caen, en Normandie.
→ Learn more: Explore Normandy: Slowing Down Fast Spoken French – Comme une Française

Pronunciation time: “à Caen, en Normandie”

En Normandie is easy. It’s a feminine word, we use “en”, and there’s the nasal sound “an”.
Caen is the capital city of the region. It looks weird, but don’t worry. It’s only a “K” sound + nasal “an.” (It’s the only example I can think of where “aen” sound like “an.”)
Actually, it’s pronounced just like quand (= when) !

Now you can explore the shows and the links in the lesson above!

Or you can learn more with me, about:

Click on the link to get to your next lesson, with video and full written transcripts. For free of course!

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

French comic Raymond Devos has a famous routine where he’s having fun with a misunderstanding of “Caen / Quand”, and a lot more puns : À Caen les vacances

→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Join the conversation!

  • Wow! Quelle belle liste. Je suis toujours à la recherche de nouvelles choses à regarder. Je vis à Sète maintenant et travaille sur l’apprentissage du français. Donc, ceux-ci aideront. Merci beaucoup! Bisous, Marie

  • Merci, Géraldine, une autre emission de télé pour la cuisine français est Les Carnets de Julie.
    Bonne journée.

  • J’adore la série L’agence sur Netflix (aux États-Unis,) Elle s’agit d’une famille d’agents immobiliers à Paris. Les vues de la ville sont incroyables!

  • J’adore l’emission “Les Racines et des Ailes” que j’ai commencer a regarder il y a deux ans. Beaucoup de beaux endroits, un langage qui est facile de comprendre dans contexte, et pluseiur episodes sur YouTube. C’est super pour practiquer le francais.

  • Moi, aussi. J’adore toute assistance avec la prononciation ! Merci pour tout que tu fais pour nous! Priscilla

  • Your videos are generally interesting, informative, enjoyable and much appreciated! But a bunch of us wish you’d give less time in getting your listeners to repeat pronunciation (“repeat after me”, “one more time”, “again”, and “one last time”) in your videos which are not specific to the topic of pronunciation. It takes up too much time which interrupts and distracts from the main topic of the video.

    • I disagree! The reason that I like to practice the pronunciation is to learn how to pronounce the words correctly. Not all of us have access to a native French speaker and Geraldine is the best. She covers many words you don’t hear anyplace else and you learn to say words by imitating what you hear. It’s good practice.

    • Thank you for your feedback Nicole.

      French pronunciation is difficult and many students like to be able to speak French with confidence.
      Lessons only on pronunciation are mostly boring so I try to mix a lovely subject with fun pronunciation tips.

      If you’re not interested in those, the written version of the lesson might be more suited to your needs.
      Feel free to pick and choose what you enjoy best! It’s hard to suit all students’ requests with just 1 format so that’s why I offer a couple of options.


  • On MhZ channel in the US I can get “Meurtres..” which is a 90 minute show, each episode set in a different city in France/DOM-TOM. It features a murder, of course, and interesting information about local customs, legends, and a lot of insight into how police investigators work. The bonus is seeing the communities. I have just finished watching the last episode of Season 8 and I really hope there is a Season 9 in the works!

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