Cinemas might be closed, and this Christmas lacks the usual exciting holiday film releases to watch with the family. Still, there is nothing better than cozying up with loved ones (or solo!) in front of a classic film. To feed your cinema cravings and soothe your longing for France, we selected the best classic French films to watch during the holidays.
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
Do you like musicals? Watch “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” once, and you will never stop singing its tunes. A classic of French cinema loved by generations, it stars the fantastic Catherine Deneuve and (her real sister) Françoise Dorléac.
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
The film that propelled Audrey Tautou to international stardom, it’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t seen “Amélie” at least once. A feel-good film, both bizarre and adorably romantic—the perfect thing to watch (or re-watch) during the holidays.
Le Dîner de Cons
“Le Dîner de Cons” might require an understanding of French culture and a sense of humor, but it’s a real gem of French comedy. It’s mean and hilarious—a comical example of French irony and contempt.
One of Luc Besson’s best films and also the first role for a young Natalie Portman, “Léon” is a classic drama that will keep you on your toes. It follows the story of Léon, a hitman, and his relationship with the young Mathilda, who seeks revenge after her family was killed.
Les Quatre Cents Coups
If you are into French cinema, you must watch François Truffaut’s directorial debut. The film follows the story of a problematic child, Antoine Doinel, who eventually ends up in reform school before escaping. Doinel is allegedly Truffaut’s alter ego, a way for him to narrate his childhood experiences.
À Bout de Souffle
Another must-watch for French cinema lovers, Jean-Luc Godard’s “À Bout de Souffle” stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as the criminal Michel, and Jean Seberg, a student and aspiring journalist named Patricia. A classic of the Nouvelle Vague, the closing scene, in particular, is considered iconic.
La Vie d’Adèle
“La Vie d’Adèle” shocked quite a few critics when it was shown at Cannes in 2013, but it was a success with both the press and the public. It’s the coming-of-age story of a teenager Adèle Exarchopoulos, who meets and falls in love with an older aspiring painter, Emma, played by Léa Seydoux. The film is raw, intense, and worth watching.
French student Xavier goes to Barcelona for his Erasmus and ends up living in a flat that he shares with seven other students from all over the world. Any former Erasmus student has seen this film hundreds of times. “L’Auberge Espagnole” is a fun and light watch, perfect for a cozy family night.
Adapted from Frédéric Beigbeder’s novel, “99 Francs” is a satirical film starring Jean Dujardin. Octave Parango has a high-paying job in advertising and a frivolous lifestyle until the end of his only long-lasting relationship makes him turn his life upside down.
Belle de Jour
Another Catherine Deneuve special, “Belle de Jour” is a dramatic comedy by Luis Buñuel that sees Deneuve as Séverine, a young woman who leads a double life as a high-end prostitute when her husband is at work. Séverine seems to find herself in her new life and the relationship with her husband gets better—until everything changes.
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- Here’s a list of French Netflix series to watch while you stay at home
- For French movies about Christmas, check out this list
- If you prefer reading, don’t miss this list of the best books set in Paris to read this winter
Written by Alessia Armenise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.