60 movies the French share as culture

We were recently debating about whether it is feasible to become French when you were not born as such. My opinion is that the birth place doesn’t matter much. However, a common cultural knowledge is acquired when you grow up or live in France for a very long time. And it is this cultural knowledge that, I think, shapes the French character and makes you thereby French.

Coluche – Much admired French actor and humourist – Image credit: europe1.fr

To start with, I was thinking about a few movies that the great majority – if not all – of the French have seen or know fairly well. I also added more recent successful films that have already made their mark. All of them are definitely worth watching, with a personal recommendation for the starred titles.

Here are the movies (with their original titles) by genre, with release dates and starred actors.




“Rabbi Jacob” – A classic scene from the movie

  1. Le gendarme à St Tropez (1964, Louis De Funès, Michel Galabru) – Don’t hesitate to check all of the series of  Le gendarme… and more
  2. Le gendarme à New York (1965, Louis De Funès, Michel Galabru, Christian Marin)
  3. La grande vadrouille (1966, Bourvil, Louis De Funès)
  4. *Rabbi Jacob (1973, Louis De Funès, Claude Giraud)
  5. L’aile ou la cuisse (1976, Louis De Funès, Coluche)
  6. La cage aux folles (1978, Michel Serrault, Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Galabru)
  7. Les bronzés (1978, Marie-Anne Chazel, Christian Clavier, Michel Creton, Dominique Lavanant, Michel Blanc, Thierry Lhermitte, Gérard Jugnot, Josiane Balasko)
  8. Les bronzés font du ski (1979, Michel Blanc, Marie-Anne Chazel, Christian Clavier, Thierry Lhermitte, Gérard Jugnot, Josiane Balasko)
  9. La soupe aux choux (1981, Louis De Funès, Jacques Villeret) – This one was shot in my tiny old-world French village 🙂
  10. Le père Noël est une ordure (1982, Anémone, Marie-Anne Chazel, Thierry Lhermitte)
  11. La vie est un long fleuve tranquille (1988, Benoît Magimel, Valérie Lalande, Hélène Vincent, André Wilms)
  12. Les visiteurs (1993, Jean Reno, Christian Clavier, Valérie Lemercier)
  13. Un indien dans la ville (1994, Thierry Lhermitte, Patrick Timsit)
  14. Les trois frères (1995, Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan, Pascal Légitimus – all three known as ‘Les Inconnus’)
  15. *Le pari (1997, Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan)
  16. Le dîner de cons (1998, Thierry Lhermitte, Jacques Villeret)
  17. Taxi (1998, Frédéric Diefenthal, Samy Naceri, Marion Cotillard)
  18. L’auberge espagnole (2001, Romain Duris, Cécile de France, Audrey Tautou, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Bishop)
  19. *Nos jours heureux (2006, Omar Sy, Jean-Paul Rouve, Marilou Berry, Joséphine de Meaux)
  20. Bienvenu chez les Ch’tis (2008, Kad Merad, Dany Boon)
  21. LOL (2009, Sophie Marceau, Christa Theret, Alexandre Astier)
  22. *L’amour c’est mieux à deux (2010, Clovis Cornillac, Virginie Efira, Manu Payet)
  23. Intouchables (2011, Omar Sy, François Cluzet)



 “Jeux d’Enfants” – A must see, non-corny gem – Image credit: damnedifyoudontdamnedifyoudo.tumblr.com

  1. La boum (1980, Sophie Marceau)
  2. Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001, Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jamel Debbouze)
  3. *Jeu d’enfants (2003, Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard)
  4. *Les poupées russes (2005, Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Bishop)
  5. L’arnacoeur (2010, Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis)



6825957229_91083308ae Laetitia Casta in “La Bicyclette Bleue”

  1. L’été meurtrier (1983, Isabelle Adjani, Alain Souchon, Michel Galabru) – Careful, explicit rape scene.
  2. Manon des sources (1986, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart)
  3. Indochine (1992, Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Perez, Jean Yanne, Linh Dan Pham)
  4. Germinal (1993, Miou-Miou, Renaud, Gérard Depardieu)
  5. *La bicyclette bleue (2000, Laetitia Casta)
  6. Les Misérables (2000, Gérard Depardieu, Christian Clavier, John Malkovich, Virginie Ledoyen, Enrico Lo Verso, Charlotte Gainsbourg, four 90 minute episodes)
  7. Sans famille (2000, Jules Sitruk, Pierre Richard, Veronica Ferres)
  8. La chambre des officiers (2000, Eric Caravaca)
  9. Le pianiste (2002, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox)
  10. Monsieur Batignole (2002, Gérard Jugnot, Jules Sitruk, Michèle Garcia)
  11. *Le silence de la mer (2004, Julie Delarme, Thomas Jouannet, Michel Galabru) – Alright this one is not necessarily a big hit, but it’s gripping and you’ll like it (WW2 themed)
  12. *La môme (2004, Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Martins)
  13. Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004, Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Pinon, Marion Cotillard)
  14. Va, vis et deviens (2005, Yaël Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Moshe Agazai)
  15. Persépolis (2007, Iggy Pop, Gena Rowlands)
  16. Elle s’appelait Sarah (2010, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup)
  17. La Rafle (2010, Mélanie Laurent, Jean Reno, Gad Elmaleh)
  18. Les mains en l’air (2010, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Hippolyte Girardot, Linda Doudaeva)
  19. Des hommes et des dieux (2010, Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin)
  20. La fille du puisatier (2011, Daniel Auteuil, Kad Merad, Astrid Berges-Frisbey)



6809454815_f14bea5ebb Gérard Jugnot in “Les Choristes” – Image credit: excessif.com

  1. A nos amours (1983, Sandrine Bonnaire, Evelyne Ker, Dominique Besnehard)
  2. La gloire de mon père (1990, Julien Ciamaca, Philippe Caubère, Nathalie Roussel)
  3. Le château de ma mère (1990, Julien Ciamaca, Philippe Caubère, Nathalie Roussel)
  4. Vénus Beauté (1999, Nathalie Baye, Mathilde Seigner, Audrey Tautou)
  5. Le goût des autres (2000, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Anne Alvaro, Gérard Lanvin)
  6. Les choristes (2004, Gérard Jugnot, Jean-Baptiste Maunier)
  7. Les petits mouchoirs (2010, François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Jean Dujardin)
  8. The Artist (2011, Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo)



6809454739_8e6ca2d077  “Les Triplettes de Belleville” – “Sous le pont” scene – Image credit: vodkaster.com

  1. *Les triplettes de Belleville (2003, by Sylvain Chomet) – Animation
  2. La marche de l’empereur (2005, by Luc Jacquet) – Documentary
  3. L’illusionniste (2010, by Sylvain Chomet) – Animation


So? How many have you seen? What will you watch first? Can you think of another good French movie I should have mentioned?

I hope you enjoy them.

Remember that you can now buy tickets for the French Film Festival 2012 taking place in March in Australia, with over 40 films to be shown! So visit their page, hurry, and appreciate!


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Julie Chamand

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  1. frenchgirlinseattle Feb 6, 2012 at 5:44 PM - Reply

    An excellent and thorough list, Julie. I have seen most of these movies (some several times,) but I am French, so that does not really count, does it? 😉 Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Pascal Inard Feb 7, 2012 at 9:19 AM - Reply

    I found a lot (if not all) of my favourites in this list. Louis de Funes stands out in this list, with 6 films, I’m a big fan of him !

  3. Julie Chamand Feb 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM - Reply

    Hi Veronique! Of course it counts 😉 It just confirms my theory that these are cult French movies 🙂

    @ Pascal, glad you like them! I wanted to add more Louis de Funes movies, but it would have been really long. I hope I didn’t omit some major hit though.

  4. Bethany Untied Feb 10, 2012 at 1:43 AM - Reply

    Une liste excellente ! 😀

  5. wallacebthom Feb 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM - Reply

    Excellent list! For a different – and much shorter – take, check out http://frenchbook.wordpress.com/top-10-best-french-movies-of-all-time/

  6. Valentine Camus Feb 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM - Reply

    Your list is quite perfect, Julie! I also love Louis de Funès and Les Bronzés.
    There is another movie I would like to recommend, about french politics. I have to admit I’m not too keen on politicians and politics, but the movie “La conquête” is really excellent. It deals with the rise of Nicolas Sarkozy until he became a President. The movie is well-done, with great actors who actually look like the real people they play! There is a lot of humour in it, and you learn a lot about politics while having fun. A must-see!

  7. Claudia Rizet-Blancher Feb 28, 2012 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    Excellente liste à laquelle je rajouterais les films d’Audiard comme “Les Tontons Flingueurs”, les textes sont savoureux, dans la liste des comédies, et dans la liste autres, Un monstre à Paris d’Eric Bergeron avec Vanessa Paradis et le plus que talentueux Mathieu Chedid.

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