French Audiobooks & Podcasts Online (USA)
March 9, 2018 5:59 AM   Subscribe

I am studying French (in the USA), and would like to listen to some contemporary audiobooks and podcasts on my iPhone. Where can I find them online? My French is at an intermediate/B1 level.

Currently, I use Overdrive to listen to audiobooks, but my library has no fiction in French. I use iTunes for podcasts, but currently can only find very few podcasts in French, and the ones I do find are specifically for French language learners, like Journal en francais facile (which I love, but its daily episodes are only 10~ min long). I have looked into Audible, but since it is so expensive, I am hoping to find more options out there.

I would prefer contemporary, fun, exciting stories -- essentially, page turners. They need to be entirely in French, because I get distracted by frequent breaks between English and French, like in Coffee Break French.

My French is at an intermediate/B1 level. It's OK if the content is a bit above my fluency level, but hopefully they it won't be so sophisticated that it's impenetrable to me.

I'm especially interested in French-language YA, ghost stories, and thrillers/mysteries.
posted by rue72 to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I subscribe to One Thing in a French Day, and also pay for the podcast transcriptions by email. It's not a story like you're looking for, but it's 3ish minute chunks of whatever Laetitia and her family are up to that day, usually visiting a patisserie. She lives a charmed life.

I would say the level is low-intermediate.
posted by Think_Long at 6:39 AM on March 9, 2018

Best answer: I'm at roughly B2/C1 level so some of my recommendations may be too complicated for you, but here are some French-language resources that I've liked, all of which are aimed toward native speakers of French.

As a general note, if you are open to Canadian French/Québécois accents and content there is a ton of material out there; even if you're focusing on metropolitan French I think listening to a variety of accents is good for listening comprehension. If you're still hesitant I'd also note that Radio-Canada French in particular tends to hew much closer to Parisian French than highly informal or colloquial Quebec French, which is why all my Canadian recommendations below are Radio-Canada resources. (I've tried listening to things like 3 bières and they are a little over my head).

- If you are open to Canadian stuff, my very first recommendation would be to download the Radio-Canada ICI Première app, which offers all their podcast and radio content. It is free and listening to the content doesn't require any VPN shenanigans in the US (unlike their ICI app, which offers up much of their TV content but requires you to have a Canadian IP address).

This will give you access to a lot of French-language content. In particular, if you click on the menu, you'll see Balados (which is Canadian French for "podcast") and if you click on on Parcourir ("browse") you'll see Livres audio at the very top. In this section there are quite a few audiobooks; if you scroll down you'll see there's a lot of YA content.

Note that the podcasts listed in Balados can all be downloaded in my experience from iTunes -- I find it easier to find the podcasts in the Radio-Canada app, listen to see if I like them, then download them via iTunes, since I don't think the Radio-Canada app allows offline listening.

- Disparue(s) from Radio-Canada is a true-crime podcast in the Serial vein examining the disappearance of a woman in 1952 -- should be right up your alley. The narrator Stéphane Bermothet has a French-of-France accent, although most of the interviewees have quite strong Quebec accents.

- Transfert from Slate France is sort of like a first-person This American Life. Every episode there's a different first-person narrator: there was a narrated by an guy traveling in Italy who met a new travel companion and how it went really downhill (involving guns, dangerous dogs and drugs I think), a story about a man realizing how he was trans and how his wife dealt with it, etc.

I really like it. If you listen to an episode and find it too hard to understand, try another one -- because it's different narrators (after Charlotte Pudlowski's 1-2 minute intro each time) the accents, speed and enunciation vary quite a lot.

- Les pieds sur terre from France Culture is in a similar vein though more journalism-like. I generally prefer Transfert's production and storytelling, but this is way more frequent.

- Of the other Radio-Canada podcasts that I listen to, I like the new Si j'ai bien compris which is a sort of witty and clear weekly news podcast and Faut pas croire tout ce qu'on dit which brings on interviewees each week to examine a news topic in detail, though both are (very understandably) generally focused on Canadian news and issues. Aujourd'hui l'histoire is generally pretty clear and understandable and looks at a different historic topic each episode, though I'm often not that interested in the topics.
posted by andrewesque at 6:41 AM on March 9, 2018 [8 favorites] for French audiobooks.

Samedi noir podcast on France culture. They have other fiction podcasts.

More recs.
posted by snakeling at 7:18 AM on March 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really like listening to the Change Ma Vie podcast. It is not fiction; it's more in the self-help category. But I mention it because I find Clotilde to be a good speaker and the episodes are easily digestible.
posted by veggieboy at 8:44 AM on March 9, 2018

I like Learn French By Podcast. Everything is in French but there is English discussion afterwards to discuss the grammar and vocabulary.

There is the French TV/online site TV5.

Radio France International also has a language learners page so it's not just le journal en francais facile and their broadcasts are streamed. iTunes has several French podcast channels, RFI Culture and RFI Accents d'Europe are the two I subscribe too. You might just try going to and listening to some of the stations/broadcasts.

BFMTV.FR is a news streaming site but you can select particular stories to listen to.
posted by shoesietart at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, mon dieu, il y a beaucoup de podcasts français! I think maybe the best way to find them is to go browse Radio France on iTunes or on the Radio France website (I recommend France Bleu and France Culture, but you can also browse France Inter, France Info, and France Musique from the main podcast page).

Some of my favorites:

Autour de la question - 45 minutes about a science topic

Villes-Mondes - 45 minutes, urban travelogue

Les Savanturiers - 5 minute interviews with scientists

Le Journal des idées - 5 minutes, some relevant topic of the day - but usually with a fairly close transcript, which is really nice

But, really, there's SO MANY, and I highly, highly recommend them.

There are also some pretty great podcasts (usually 15 minutes or so?) over at PodClub:

Balades - "Isabelle vous emmènera en balade dans les régions de France qui lui tiennent à cœur. Elle vous parlera de visites, d'aventures, de souvenirs, d'anecdotes drôles et partagera avec vous ses coups de cœur du quotidien."

L'avis de Marie - "Elle vous racontera ses souvenirs, l'époque où elle gérait le restaurant, ses voyages, ses préoccupations ; l'hiver qu'elle passe sans chauffage ou le jour où la maison a presque brulé. Elle réagira sur l'actualité mais vous fera aussi découvrir des facettes de la société française et les habitudes de ses contemporains."

Also, I know you said contemporary fiction, but please consider the French audiobooks at Librivox. I find Jules Verne has a reasonably contemporary feel.
posted by kristi at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone -- I am working my way through your suggestions now (and they're fantastic so far!).

Also, if anyone has any more ideas for podcasts and audiobooks, please feel free to add them! A lot of people marked this question a favorite, so maybe there are a lot of us looking for francophone media. :)
posted by rue72 at 7:25 AM on March 15, 2018

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