The 5 best talk shows in French for language learners
Published on February 7, 2023 / Updated on January 3, 2024
If you like to unwind by watching films or television, we have good news: Visual storytelling mediums offer a great way to improve your listening skills and expand your vocabulary in a new language. We’ve already shared some of our favorite fictional TV shows for learning French, but sometimes nothing scratches an itch quite like a talk show in French.
Aside from being entertaining, French talk shows give you an opportunity to learn more about French culture and current events while brushing up on your language skills. So, if you want to get acquainted with some of the biggest names in the worlds of French art, sports and politics, here’s our list of the most popular talk shows in France.
Since it first aired in 1998, Vivement dimanche has been entertaining French people of all ages on lazy Sunday afternoons. Michel Drucker, the show’s host, is one of the most renowned and longest-standing TV personalities in France. He started his career all the way back in 1965 and has continued to work on several of the biggest French TV channels.
For a couple of hours each week, Drucker receives a special guest on his famous red sofa to discuss both their current projects and their wider career. With his typically polite, family-friendly tone, Drucker offers a harmless and pleasant way to get better acquainted with some of the most famous French actors, singers, comedians and athletes. You may know some of them even if you’ve just started learning French.
Philippe Labro, a popular French writer, journalist and movie director, hosts this weekly cultural show on the C8 channel. For an hour every Sunday, Labro welcomes four intellectuals and artists to discuss their latest works. His guests tend to be eclectic, and their projects range from films and plays to books, paintings and even video games.
The show’s highlights include a section about l’art où on ne l’attend pas (“art where you don’t expect it”), which focuses on social media and the digital world at large. Given the sometimes heady subject matter, you may get more out of this one if you’ve already reached an intermediate or advanced level in French. In any case, it’s a fascinating way to discover the rich variety of cultural output across France.
You can watch episodes on the C8 website.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit less highbrow (but still highly entertaining), Nailed it! France might satisfy your appetite. In each episode of this French cooking show, three amateur contestants compete to make the best dessert. It’s a great way to discover some yummy French dishes while learning useful vocabulary for the kitchen.
The show is available for streaming on Netflix, with or without subtitles.
The shortest French talk show in our list, 7 jours sur la planète clocks in at just 20 minutes per episode. In this weekly show, a host and a guest discuss the social and political events of the past week.
Aired on the international French TV channel TV5 Monde, the show also has an educational purpose — including for people currently learning French. On the same website, you can check out the video of an episode as well as its written summary. You can even access interactive activities in relation to specific episodes, which is a great way to practice French at your own pace and level.
Though it ended in 2020 after 14 years on air, On n’est pas couché remains one of the most popular TV talk shows ever made in France. Every Saturday night, the witty and irreverent Laurent Ruquier welcomed different guests to debate a variety of topics from the past week. The guests ranged from actors and comedians to politicians and philosophers, and the topics ranged from human-interest stories to more serious (even taboo) subjects. Nothing was off the table. As a time capsule of a specific era in French culture, the show remains an interesting introduction to how events of the time were viewed and discussed in France.
With five titles, our list of popular talk shows in French is varied in terms of formats and topics. It also represents a diverse level of linguistic abilities; some of these shows are more appropriate for beginners, and some are better if you already have a solid understanding of French under your belt. Give them all a try to find the ones that best suit your tastes and your abilities — and happy watching!