20 Best French Films on Netflix Right Now

Looking for a quick escape to France without leaving the comfort of your couch? (and without having to spend $1000 on plane tickets…) I’ve got you covered with this list of some French films I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find on Netflix. I wasn’t easy narrowing them down, but here are 20 plus of the best French films you can stream or get on DVD via Netflix, according to moi:

 

AVAILABLE ON DEMAND

populaire

Populaire ~ The French could learn a thing or two from Hollywood when it comes to RomCom’s, but occasionally, we get it right! Populaire is kitschy, funny and colourful. Its heroin, Rose, is an adorable small town girl with big dreams and fingers that can type so fast they might just be her ticket out of her dad’s store… and into the arms of a new “hands-on” boss. It’s a charming, if predictable, film starring Romain Duris as the male lead. Warning: his name will come up quite a few times on this list. Also, Berenice Bejar has a supporting part in the film. She’ll also come up a few times on this list. 

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain ~ Equally charming and whimsical, though it’s probably more of a Rom-dramedy, is the feel-good Amelie, a delightful tale that gave foreign audiences the Paris they’ve always dreamt of and introduced the world to the lovely Audrey Tautou. It also gave Travelocity a fabulous advertising mascot idea 😉 
Le fabuleux destin d'amelie poulain

StarbuckStarbuck ~ OK, this quebecois film will not transport you to France, though the French made a remake of it… as did the Americans… And shame on the French for remaking a film that was already excellent in its original version. Not to mention already IN FRENCH. I love this film! It’s about David Wosniak, a 42-year old lovable screw-up in Montreal who finally turns his life around after finding out that he is the biological father of 533 children. 533 children!?! How could that happen? Very good question… Well, it happened as he donated a lot of sperm to a fertility clinic under the alias of “Starbuck.” As 142 of those children band together to sue the clinic and find out the identity of their biological father, David/Starbuck turns into a bit of a guardian angel for some of them and into someone they, as well as his father and girlfriend, can be proud of.

 

Haute Cuisine ~  a drama based on the real-life story of Hortense Laborie’s personal experience as head chef for the president of France.

Le Prenom/What’s in a Name ~ the scene: a diner party in a Parisian apartment where a hilarious discussion slash argument is ignited by one of the character announcing the name he plans on giving to his soon-to-be born son. Just so you’re in for, that name is Adolphe 😉 

All that Glitters & Bande de Filles ~ lumping these two films together since they both focus on friendship and young girls living in the suburbs of Paris. In All That Glitters, Lila and Ely just dream of a brighter, shinier life in the city. The girls in Bande de Filles also have dreams of escaping their bleak banlieue realities but the film leaves you with little doubt that joining together in a girl gang is not going to make that happen for them. 

ADD TO YOUR DVD QUEUE

Blue is the Warmest Color/La vie d’Adèle ~ There was a lot of drama surrounding this film. In awarding it the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Steven Spielberg and his jury also added the two main actresses to the director in the distinction. That’s not typical, and speaks to the amazing performances of Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos as well as to the controversial methods of director Abdellatif Kechiche. Blue is a coming of age tale in which a high school girl falls in love with a slightly older woman, an artist with blue hair. Over the course of 179 minutes Adèle falls in love, discovers desire, finds herself, then loses herself and ultimately grows into adulthood. Warning: the film is long and the sex scenes are drawn out at times, and very graphic.

Blue is the warmest color

The “Auberge Espagnole” Trilogy (The Spanish ApartmentRussian Dolls & Chinese Puzzle) ~ Let’s talk about Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou again. Romain was discovered on the streets of Paris by director Cédric Klapisch and plays in a lot of his movies. Saying that l’Auberge Espagnole was his breakout role isn’t entirely accurate since he had already been nominated for 2 “most promising actor” césars (the French oscars) by the time he stepped into Xavier Rousseau’s shoes. But it was definitely his first popular hit to date. L’Auberge Espagnole is now part of a trilogy that was filmed over 10 years. Its wonderful ensemble cast that also includes Cecile de France and Audrey Tautou took us along on their adventures from Barcelona in l’Auberge Espagnole, to London, Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russian Dolls before ending up in New York in Chinese Puzzle (actually streaming). I’d recommend watching all three movies in that order, though l’Auberge Espagnole is definitely the best of the trilogy.

L'Auberge Espagnole Russian_dollsCasse-tête_chinois_poster

Les Intouchables ~ This film quickly became the largest grossing French film ever and is the highest-grossing movie in a language other than English. And there’s a reason for that: it’s funny but not silly. Unlike Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, which previously held the title of largest grossing film but didn’t do as well abroad due do limited cultural appeal outside of France, Les Intouchables is a crowd pleaser for everyone… Based on a true story, and a true friendship, it tells the tale of a millionaire quadriplegic who learns to live again after giving a chance to an impulsive young kid from the projects that he hires as his caretaker.

Les Intouchables / the Untouchables

OSS 17: Cairo Nest of Spies ~ Before they made The Artist (itself worth adding to the list since it’s one of the best French movie available on DVD via Netflix) Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo made a hilarious spy-film spoof. Actually, let me rephrase that. OSS 17 was such a hit in France, with more than 2 million tickets sold, that its director Michel Hazanavicus was able to convince studio executives to pretty much let him do anything he wanted as long as he could reunite Jean and Berenice on screen. And that meant letting him film a silent movie in black and white 😉 Jean Dujardin is self-mockingly charming as a French secret agent undercover as a poultry executive whose mission is to secure the Middle East for French imperialism. Don’t bother with the follow up OSS 17: Lost in Rio though.

OSS 17 Cairo Nest of Spies

The Dinner Game ~ Do not let its American remake Dinner for Schmucks mislead you into thinking that the original is not one of the funniest French film ever made. The Francis Veber hit shows that slapstick humour can be also sharp and clever, though some of the nuances and cultural references in this unmistakably French comedy go over the head of some non-French audiences. Veber has a lot of other funny films on Netflix like The Closet with Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu. 
 Le Diner de Cons

L'amant Movie PosterL’Amant ~ Wondering how 50 Shades of Grey barely got a PG-12 rating in France? Watch The Lover and wonder no more. Now that’s a film that earns its NC-17 rating 😉 Based on Marguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical book The Lover, this film relates the illicit affair between a teenage French girl and a wealthy Chinese man in 1929 colonial Vietnam. Also available on DVD on Netflix and set in the same place at the same time is Indochine featuring Catherine Deneuve. A lot less skin in shown, but the movie is excellent, and won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language when it came out.

I’ve Loved You for So Long ~ A few years ago I became convinced that Kristin Scott Thomas was the best French actress around. Yes, I know she’s not French, but she speaks beautiful French and happens to star in some excellent French film like this 2008 drama about a woman struggling to interact with her family and find her place in society after spending fifteen years in prison for murder. I also really like her (and Fabrice Luchini who is simply brilliant in every movie he does) in In the House (streaming). Speaking of Luchini, catch him in The Women on the Sixth Floor or Potiche. Both are great films and actually. Potiche also features the great Catherine Deneuve.

LovedYouSoLong_6Catherine Deneuve in Potiche

Au Revoir les Enfants ~ This classic World War Two drama is based on its director’s, Louis Malle, childhood. Seen through the eyes of children, it’s a deeply movingcinema masterpiece, telling the story of a jewish child, sheltered in a Catholic boarding school by a courageous headmaster, until the Gestapo raids the establishment. Louis Malle was in tears at the film’s premiere and if you’re planning on watching the film, I’d recommend keeping a box of Kleenex nearby, this is a sad one.

 DOCUMENTARIES

March of the Penguins ~ Missing from the U.S. version about the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica: the delightful soundtrack by Emilie Simon. Missing from the French version: Morgan Freeman’s amazing narration.  If only we could combine the two, it would absolutely be the perfect movie! March of the Penguins, the English version, is currently available on DVD. (check out this clip to get a feel for the French version)
Director Luc Jacquet in Antarctica, filming March of the Penguins.
King of Pastry ~ the French takes their pastries seriously and this documentary takes a look at the deliciously cut-throat Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the legendary French pastry competition, to capture this fascinating account of what it takes to be the best “pâtissier.”King of Pastry is currently streaming.
There you have it! Some 20 + French films that you should watch on Netflix. There’s not a lot streaming right now unfortunately, but soon we’ll be able to add the Netflix original series Marseille featuring our very own Gerard Depardieu to the list…. Until then did I miss one of your favourites??

{This post is based on an original list first published on 12/27/2011 and was updated on April 2nd 2016.}

40 thoughts on “20 Best French Films on Netflix Right Now

  1. I really loved the first OSS 117 – the second less but still good. You have missed La Tour Montparnasse Infernale which is brilliant! Agree about Amelie Poulain, too. Now I have to go back and think of other French films I love! Happy Holidays to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know… I like the Rio one, as much as the Le Caire one… I watched it on Air France form Paris to Atlanta a few years ago, thinking “Bon sang, Air France is really more expensive than American Airlines, but hey, we got free wine and individual TVs…”. Delusion of Grandeur (“La folie des Grandeurs”) is IMHO the best de Funes by far. With Montand on top. Got it finally ordered in Zone 1 DVD (may the Free Market gods curse DVD/Blue Ray zoning!!!!).
      “Monseigneur est… beau…
      Vous le pensez vraiment Blaze?
      Je flatte, Monseigneur…”

      Thanks to Laetitia for providing another final good reason to subscribe to Netflix

      Like

  2. I debated having Amelie Poulain on the list and leaving out the Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources out… I guess it's good that I found more than 15 movies to list and had to narrow it down 😉

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  3. Thank you for this list! I feel like I'm always falling back on my go-to's (Au Revoir les Enfants, Amelie, Le Placard) and it's great to have some new inspiration! wasn't I've Loved You So Long just heartbreaking?? Great list!

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  4. Hi Laetitia – just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy this list. Not only does it remind me of my first forays into French cinema – i first watched Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources back in middle school – but friends and I are slowly making our way through this list during a regular “french movie night”.

    I've recently started blogging and linked to this post from my latest piece: http://dreaminginfranglais.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-cure-for-election-day-a-summer-of-french-cinema/

    Megan (you may know me as @Meggo8)

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  5. I really liked OSS 117 as well, I wasn't expecting much going into it but it was a super fun movie.

    I can't believe how many French movies you guys get on Netflix down there! I get Canadian netflix and we have like one page. I'll have to check if we have any that are on your list, thanks for the suggestions!

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  6. Laetitia: I stumbled upon your blog looking for a French film to warm me up for my pending trip to Paris… Tomorrow! I am traveling with the French Embassy as part of a cultural exchange program with Congressional staff from DC and we are meeting with various officials within the French government. Thus far, I feel intellectually prepared for the meetings; however, tonight I must pack. I am actually more anxious about what I should be wearing in these meetings rather than what I should be saying. Do you have any suggestions on how to best pack for a “business professional” week in Paris? Any do’s and don’ts you think I should keep in mind? I appreciate any advice you have!

    Jess

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      • I’d like some pointers on business fashion on Paris. Gearing up for my own travels to Paris with my firm.

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      • Sofia – it’s pretty much the same as in the US, just a little more trendy and a little less conservative… though I guess it depends on the industry.

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  7. Amélie is a favorite. I have recently seen Romantics Anonymous, which is a very cute feel good romantic comedy, but as it involves two people with social anxiety, it feels more Fresh. But, I prefer the different quirky “rom-coms”. 😉

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  8. Romantics Anonymous was cute indeed! Try The Day I Saw Your Heart. You might like it. How to get married and stay single definitely falls in the rom com category otherwise…

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  9. Thank u so much! I’m starting to learn french (on my own) so I thought I’d start watching french movies and you’ve given me a great selection! Merci

    Like

  10. have been search for the film about a french woman painter starts out she is a housekeeper at a art collectors mothers home man sees the house keepers art and brings forth for the word to see what is the name of the film

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  11. I really like the Louis de Funes films. My favorite is “L’aile ou la cuisse?” but his others are great too. Too bad they aren’t on Netflix….

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  12. I’m thrilled for such a great list! Does anyone know any other French options for listening and reading French text? I’m going to France in a couple of months and I’m realizing that listening to as much French as possible is really helping me remember the language.

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  13. Thanks for this list! Found it while trying to find a list of French musicals and/or French comedies. Have bookmarked all of these. Les Chansons d’Amour should totally be on this list! Louis Garrell can get it!

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  14. Seducing Dr Lewis; Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Deux pere en flic – French Canadian films. Not sure if they’re on Netflix.

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  15. I find it interesting that you list no French candian/québécois movies. There is an abundant selection, perhaps not on Netflix, but definitely easy to find. ( Monsieur Lazhar (academy award winner), La grand seduction, CRAZY, Starbuck, etc.) Lots of good French movies, not all from France.

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    • I thought about putting Starbuck on there because it’s really good (and streaming on Netflix!). I actually do recommend it to everyone I talk to as a good french (language) film right now… I should add it to the list, great suggestions (can’t believe the french made a remake of it…)

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  17. I love Le Peuple Migrateur (Winged MIgration!).

    I agree with your picks of Amelie, Intouchables, and March of the Penguins. I haven’t seen The Warmest Color is Blue yet.

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