As someone who studied both Criminology and French Film, my passion for the two translates into my Netflix queue. However, while I’ve always loved French TV, it’s Nordic Noir that usually satisfied my crime show needs. But recently, France and Belgium have created their own version of Nordic Noir, French-language crime shows that are as eerie and excellent as their Scandinavian counterparts.
Here are my favorite French-language TV series on Netflix, which are, as you may have guessed, largely crime shows. But with some science-fiction, supernatural, and romantic comedy thrown in for good measure.
The Break / La Trêve
The Break is a Belgian French-language crime drama about a Brussels police detective, Yoann Peeters, who returns with his teenage daughter to the tiny town where he grew up. On his first day of work, Peeters discovers the body of a young athlete. As he investigates, he begins to unveil some dark secrets about his hometown. The Break won the 2016 Séries Mania Festival’s Best French Series Award.
The Frozen Dead / Glacé
The Frozen Dead is a French thriller set in the Pyrénées and based on a novel of the same name by Bernard Minier. After making a grisly discovery atop a mountain, detective Martin Servaz is dragged back to town to investigate. So begins a series of murders that may be connected to an imprisoned Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer and a dark story with years of history.
The Forest / La Forêt
With supernatural overtones, The Forest is a French crime drama about the disappearance of Jennifer, a teenage girl from a village near the Ardennes Forest. Local police and Jennifer’s teacher, Ève Mendel, begin to investigate, Eve having suffered her own trauma as a child in the same forest in which Jennifer disappeared. Their investigation unravels a web of disturbing secrets about their community.
La Mante is a French thriller starring ex-Bond girl Carole Bouquet. Bouquet plays serial killer Jeanne Deber—nicknamed “la Mante” (the Mantis)—who is asked to help the Paris police solve a string of unsolved murders after being imprisoned for several decades. However, she has one condition: She will only work with her estranged detective son, Damien, who reluctantly agrees in order to capture the copycat killer.
Transfers / Transferts
Transfers puts a futuristic spin on the crime show. This French science-fiction thriller is set in a time where human consciousness can be transferred from one body to another. After a boating accident, woodworker Florian wakes up in the body of a police officer who leads a task force against such illegal “transfers.” Transfers won the 2017 Séries Mania Festival’s Best French Series Award and Best Actor Award (Arieh Worthalter).
Set in Paris in the near future, this science-fiction series is about the launch of a dating app called Osmosis, which created by brother and sister team, Paul and Esther. The app claims to match singles with their soul mates by mining their brain data, but it seems the technology comes at a price. Osmosis has been compared to the popular Netflix series Black Mirror, in particular the “Hang the DJ” episode.
The Hook Up Plan / Plan Coeur
If all that crime is too much for you, The Hook Up Plan is a lighthearted romantic comedy about two well-intentioned friends who try to help their awkward, clumsy best friend get over her ex by hiring a male escort to date her. The strong, quirky central female trio are supported by their male friends. This is a refreshing, energetic, and fun series about love in the city of love.
After the success of The Hook Up Plan, Mortel is Netflix’s latest French production. Mortel is a supernatural teenage drama about two boys, Sofiane and Victor, who, after making a deal with a voodoo god, are bestowed super powers and join forces to solve the murder of Sofiane’s brother. After premiering on Netflix on November 21, the series has rapidly gained fans and is enjoying widespread success.
- Check out my favourite French-language films on Netflix.
- Discover the best Scandinavian crime shows.
- Read about whether Belgian drama is the new Scandi-noir.
Written by Ali Postma 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.
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