Forget ‘Emily in Paris’, Here Are 30 French Movies to Add to Your Queue

France may be known for its hearty cassoulet and cheese croissants, but there’s more to this popular destination than its delectable dishes. For one, it houses one of the most romantic cities in the world, and it boasts several picturesque views. But best of all, it inspired multiple French movies that still hold up today.

Perhaps you’re craving French classics like Children of Paradise, or maybe you’re trying to live vicariously through the characters as they enjoy the sights (been there). Either way, these 30 French movies ought to do the trick.

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1. “girlhood” (2014)

  • Who's in it: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré
  • Rated: NR

This eye-opening film follows the life of Marieme, a Black teen who lives in a poor Paris neighborhood with her abusive brother. To reinvent herself, she joins a gang…and immediately has second thoughts.

2. “les Intouchables” (2011)

  • Who's in it: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny
  • Rated: R

When a paragliding accident leaves a wealthy Parisian in a wheelchair, he hires a man named Driss to become his live-in caregiver. Despite their different backgrounds and personalities, the pair develop an unlikely and life-changing friendship.

3. “breathe”(2014)

  • Who's in it: Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré
  • Rated: NR

Charlie, a French teen, instantly connects with and befriends the confident new girl at her school, Sarah. However, their tight-knit friendship takes a dark turn when Sarah’s behavior abruptly starts to change.

4. “portrait Of A Lady On Fire” (2019)

  • Who's in it: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino
  • Rated: R

Set in 18th-century France, this romantic drama follows a painter who's commissioned to secretly paint a wedding portrait of Héloïse, a bride-to-be. It takes on several big themes, from friendship to the female gaze, and it was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

5. “children Of Paradise” (1945)

  • Who's in it: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir
  • Rated: NR

Critics have called this two-part, three-hour drama one of the best movies ever made. And given the stellar performances, we can see why. The plot follows Garance, a gorgeous young woman who has stolen the hearts of four men, including a thief, an actor, a mime and an aristocrat. Unfortunately for these men, Garance is always out of their grasp.

6. “rust And Bone” (2012)

  • Who's in it: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Céline Sallette
  • Rated: R

This heartwarming film tells the story of an unemployed single dad who meets and falls in love with a woman who trains killer whales for a living. Not only was this movie a box office hit, but it also scored two Golden Globe nominations.

7. “the Beat That My Heart Skipped” (2005)

  • Who's in it: Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos
  • Rated: NR

Will Thomas is tired of living a life of violence and crime. So, when he crosses paths with an old friend that worked with his mom, he feels inspired to pursue a different career. But will things work out in his favor?

8. “the Man On The Train”(2002)

  • Who's in it: Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-François Stévenin
  • Rated: R

Milan traveled to a small town with one goal in mind: to rob a bank. But that plan changes after he meets a retired French professor named Manesquier (Rochefort). As a result, the two develop a rather complicated friendship.

9. “hiroshima Mon Amour”(1959)

  • Who's in it: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas
  • Rated: NR

The movie chronicles a French actress's one-night stand with a married Japanese architect in 1950s Hiroshima—but it's not all steamy love scenes. The two also engage in deep discussions about their past, including the bombing of Hiroshima and World War II. It’s considered one of the biggest films in the French New Wave.

10. “the Chorus” (2004)

  • Who's in it: Gérard Jugnot, François Berléand, Jean-Baptiste Maunier
  • Rated: PG-13

Think Dead Poets Society, but with a hint of Sister Act 2. When Monsieau Clement joins the staff at an all-boys boarding school in 1940s France, he decides to shake things up by starting a choir. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Song.

11. “la Vie En Rose” (2007)

  • Who's in it: Marion Cotillard, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve
  • Rated: PG-13

Cotillard delivered an Oscar-winning performance as the great Édith Piaf—one of the most famous singers in France—in this biographical musical. It details her childhood, her rise to fame and her death.

12.“dheepan” (2015)

  • Who's in it: Antonythsan Jsuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby
  • Rated: R

When a former soldier and two fellow refugees flee from Sri Lanka to escape the civil war, they end up in France and try to build their new lives as a peaceful family. But unfortunately, this does little to solve their problems.

13. “caché”(2005)

  • Who's in it: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Annie Girardot
  • Rated: R

This wouldn’t be a comprehensive list if we didn’t include at least one mind-bending thriller. Caché follows a French couple who discover that they’ve been under constant surveillance after they see tapes anonymously left at their door. And that’s just the beginning…

14. “the Class”(2009)

  • Who's in it: Francois Begaudeau, Franck Keita, Wei Huang
  • Rated: PG-13

There’s no shortage of inspirational films that highlight the efforts of passionate teachers, but this Oscar nominee certainly stands out. The Class follows French language teacher François Marin as he begins a new school year at an inner-city Paris high school. But his enthusiasm and patience are tested as he deals with a host of challenges, from racial tensions among classmates to rebellious students.

15. “summer Hours” (2008)

  • Who's in it: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier
  • Rated: 18+

This nuanced film is about a trio of adult siblings who try to cope with the loss of their mother as they reflect on memories and try to figure out what to do with their inheritance. It’s a poignant tale that expertly tackles themes like loss, grief and nostalgia.

16. “i Lost My Body” (2019)

  • Who's in it: Hakim Faris, Victoire du Bois, Patrick d'Assumçao
  • Rated: TV-MA

A severed hand escapes a Parisian laboratory and sets out to find its owner, but it’s no easy task. (We know it sounds nuts, but the storytelling is phenomenal, and it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.)

17. “certified Copy”(2010)

  • Who's in it: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Jean-Claude Carrière, Agathe Natanson
  • Rated: 18+

James (Shimell), a British writer who specializes in fake art, meets a French gallery owner at one of his lectures. But when they reunite later on, their relationship takes a rather interesting turn.

18. “le Boucher” (1970)

  • Who's in it: Stéphane Audran, Jean Yanne, Antonio Passalia, Pascal Ferone
  • Rated: NR

One minute, it’s a tense psychological thriller. And the next, it’s a small-town romance—but that’s exactly what makes it so compelling. Le Boucher follows Helene (Audran), a shy teacher who starts a romance with a charming local butcher. But when a string of women are murdered in the neighborhood, she suspects that her new partner might be the culprit.

19. “​​the Grand Illusion” (1937)

  • Who's in it: Jean Gabin, Gaston Modot, Georges Péclet
  • Rated: PG-13

Often referred to by critics as a masterpiece, The Grand Illusion follows a group of French soldiers who try to plot an escape while being held in a World War I prison camp. The film examines prejudice, the futility of war and class relationships.

20. “elle” (2016)

  • Who's in it: Isabelle Huppert, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling
  • Rated: R

This nail-biting thriller will give you Promising Young Woman vibes. Huppert plays Michèle, a successful businesswoman who decides to track down the mysterious man who assaulted her instead of reporting it to the police.

21. “le Trou” (1960)

  • Who's in it: Michel Constantin, Jean Keraudy, Philippe Leroy
  • Rated: NR

Inspired by the 1947 prison escape attempt at La Santé Prison, this gripping crime drama centers on five Parisian inmates. Fun fact: Most of the main cast aren’t professional actors—like Jean Keraudy, who was involved in the real-life escape attempt.

22. “my Golden Days”(2015)

  • Who's in it: Quentin Dolmaire, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Mathieu Amalric
  • Rated: R

When an anthropologist gets held up at a Paris airport due to passport issues, he begins to reminisce about the “golden days.”

23. “marguerite” (2015)

  • Who's in it: Catherine Frot, André Marcon, Michel Fau
  • Rated: R

In this thoughtful comedy, Frot stars as Marguerite Dumont, a wealthy opera enthusiast who has a passion for performing. The problem? She’s oblivious to the fact that she doesn’t have the talent for singing.

24. “incendies” (2010)

  • Who's in it: Lubna Azabal, Mustafa Kamel, Mélissa Desormeaux-Poulin
  • Rated: R

Are you in the mood for a dark and mysterious drama that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat? You’ll love Incendies, which follows two siblings who discover a dark family secret while carrying out their mother’s dying wishes.

25. “le Samouraï”(1967)

  • Who's in it: Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon
  • Rated: NR

Delon shines as pro hitman Jef Costello in this gangster film. He gets himself into trouble when multiple witnesses spot him one night. Can he come up with an air-tight alibi that’ll get him off the hook?

26. “blue Is The Warmest Color” (2013)

  • Who's in it: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurélien Recoing
  • Rated: NC-17

This raw and intense coming-of-age film chronicles the relationship between Adèle and Emma from their teenage years to adulthood. It explores themes like identity, depression, female sexuality and the LGBTQ community.

27. “les Misérables” (2019)

  • Who's in it: Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Perica
  • Rated: R

Inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, Ladj Ly's directorial debut is a testament to how the smallest incidents can spiral out of control. The film focuses on a cop named Stéphane, who joins an anti-crime squad in a French town called Montfermeil. But when one arrest goes horribly wrong, he and his team must grapple with the aftermath.

28. “the Passion Of Joan Of Arc” (1927)

  • Who's in it: Renée Jeanne Falconetti, Eugène Silvain, André Berley
  • Rated: PG

It’s far from your typical movie, but this silent classic is as haunting as it is riveting. The Passion of Joan of Arc paints a powerful portrait of the famous martyr, highlighting her incredible courage for standing by her beliefs.

29. “cléo From 5 To 7” (1962)

  • Who's in it: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dorothee Blank
  • Rated: R

Cléo Victoire, a self-obsessed pop singer, roams the streets of Paris and embarks on her own little adventure as she awaits the results of a medical exam that could reveal she has cancer. Although it touches on quite a few dark themes, like mortality and the purpose of life, the overall tone of the film is light, and the visuals are stunning.

30. “amour”(2012)

  • Who's in it: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud
  • Rated: PG-13

In this captivating French romance, Anne and Georges are a happy elderly couple who have retired from teaching. But when Anne suffers a stroke that leaves half of her body paralyzed, it puts a strain on their relationship. (P.S., you’ll want to keep the tissues nearby if you plan to watch.)

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...