Top Podcasts from France: a peep into the French psyche
2020 has been challenging and bewildering in more ways than one, with humanity facing a situation few could have foreseen in the months leading to it.
As we are still in the midst of it all, here in France, and with the world as we knew it altered and the future uncertain, this somewhat reclused period can be the occasion to:
- discover new hobbies or
- indulge in old ones by spending evening hours
- meditating, or
- practicing any other activity which hopefully fills you with joy, opens your mind, and cheers your spirits...
Growing in popularity and ideal for time spent at home, podcasts are a great way to
– expand your knowledge,
– ignite your curiosity,
– practice your French,
– open your mind and/or
– entertain yourself.
And if you’ve been looking for interesting content to listen to in la langue de Molière, we have your back.
12 top podcasts to enrich your French life
Here are 12 superb choices for every taste, whether you are more inclined towards literature, feminism, society, travels, and so much more. All in the French language.
If you are a reader, a book aficionado, and love all that relates to literature, for example listening to authors talk about how they write, or people discuss their favourite reads, here are three podcasts I love and you might enjoy:
During three episodes or more of 45 minutes each, authors discuss the road that led them to become a writer, how they write, how a novel was born, why they write. etc.
Whether you want to learn more about an author’s relationship to her or his work, whether you want to discover a new writer, or are interested in the perspective of artists on their craft, this podcast is a must.
Amongst the guests so far, you will find Dany Laferrière, Chloé Deleaume, Tristan Garcia, Alice Zeniter, Philippe Jaenada and Delphine de Vigan.
2. Le Book Club
It can be a novel that formed them as young women, a book that changed their lives, an essay that shifted the way they see the world, or any work of literature that holds a special place in their heart.
The guests are public figures, whether artists or journalists, some famous other lesser-known, all sharing something unique through their favourite reads.
3. La Quille
The conversations are interesting with great questions from the host and an ability to engage with the guests. La Quille is a good choice if you want to discover contemporary French culture.
Podcasts: women’s voices
Feminism represents a core movement of our society, striving for gender equality and challenging the status quo. As it turns out podcasting is a rich, safe and innovative way for women to tell their stories, express their ideas and achieve greater visibility.
In France, women are creating superb programs. As a matter of fact, there are numerous quality projects to choose from, and here is my go-to list:
1. La Poudre
Twice a month, journalist, writer and activist Lauren Bastide interviews women about their life, their work, their ideas and more.
The host and her guests tackle feminism, antiracism, and social justice topics during an hour-long conversation. By looking at the paths taken by women, their fights and difficulties, their aspirations and inspirations, La Poudre offers a profound and enlightening portrait of the world we live in.
The first book of La Poudre came out recently, where you can now read the interviews from the first season of the podcast.
2. Les couilles sur la table
Victoire Tuaillon’s popular and fascinating podcast Les couilles sur la table approaches gender through the masculine lens. By exploring how men live, are raised, how they behave and exist, Les Couilles sur la table interrogates the gender norms and inequalities of our patriarchal society.
Produced by podcast studio Binge Audio, the purpose of Les Couilles sur la table is not to put men against women, on the contrary, but to aim for a more inclusive and equal world where all genders can exist on the same level, without domination and submission. In fact, twice a month the journalist welcomes a guest to discuss an issue related to masculinity. Women and men alike delve into a multitude of subjects such as fatherhood, sexism, patriarchy and environment, rape, the male gaze, to name only a few.
An example of guests include famous writer and feminist Virginie Despentes, author and journalist Maia Mazaurette, sociologist Dider Eribon, trans man Paul B. Preciado. Like La Poudre, Les couilles sur la table can also be read as a book, offering a great complement to the podcast!
3. Kiffe ta race
Activists and authors Rokhaya Diallo and Grace Ly host the podcast Kiffe ta race, produced by Binge Audio.
Both women, both coming from racial minorities, both feminists, they tackle twice a month identity and race questions. From racial representation to injustices, the two women talk about what they have experienced or are experiencing, sharing their stories and discussing with intelligence and sincerity, inviting guests to exchange with them.
Examples of subjects include racism in the media, white privileges, being Asian in the USA and in France, francophone literature and the colonial past, the importance of representation, and many more.
4. Entre nos lèvres
Entre nos lèvres talks about sex through personal tales.
Women (and sometimes men) share ideas, opinions, questions, and stories about sexual intimacy. The podcast defies the established norms and goes beyond the surface while aiming for truth and openness. Sexuality can often be depicted in a uniform and superficial way, allowing for misrepresentation and a lack of richness and diversity.
With Entre nos lèvres, created by Céline and Margaux, auditors will find relatable, surprising, nuanced, and honest stories about sexuality.
Podcasts: let’s not forget these…
Now, here are other podcasts I enjoy, which fall under no specific categories other than the fact that they are informative, entertaining, eye-opening, sometimes funny, sometimes dark, podcasts where storytelling and humanity meet for the best.
Created by Charlotte Pudlowski (co-founder of studio Louie Media) and produced by Slate.fr, Transferts is a terrific podcast.
The concept is simple: A person tells a story that happened to her or him. It can be a divorce, a love story, an addiction, a family tragedy, a complicated friendship. Some are lighter than others, some are heart-wrenching, but you will most certainly find one to your liking, given the numerous episodes available.
The editing is brilliant, and the fact that the only voice heard is that of the person telling the story (no questions, no interviewer), creates an intimate atmosphere and experience as if you were being the confidant.
To listen to Transfert is to travel through humanity and all its shades and forms.
2. Vieille Branche
Vieille Branche offers older people a platform to make their voices heard.
Like other marginalized groups, the elderly do not have the space they need and deserve in the public sphere, or in everyday life for that matter. Our society diminishes people’s visibility as they get older, relegating them to silence or limited representation.
With this podcast produced by Nouvelles Ecoutes, personalities aged 70 or older discuss their life, achievements and reflect upon their trajectories. There is a lot to learn from people who have long lived and experienced life.
Thanks to Vieille Branche, they can share their wisdom and journeys for the pleasure and benefit of us all.
3. Les Baladeurs
2020 might not be the best year to travel (understatement), but with podcasting, you can have wonderful adventures through those experienced and described by others.
During an hour, people share their travel stories: from the Moroccan Atlas to the Kawah Ijen volcano. Undoubtedly, your taste for the unknown will be satisfied and will leave you wanting more!
4. Le Tchip
Two men and a woman in their thirties present this sharp, funny and insightful podcast.
Distributed by Binge Audio, Le Tchip is hosted by Mélanie Wanga, Kévi Donat, and François Oulac. Interestingly they are all of Caribbean or African descent. There are not many programs in the media where all the hosts are black or coming from other racial minorities.
With Le Tchip, their voices are heard, their visibility increased. The hosts and their guests discuss and debate about culture, race, politics, identity, society, and art with vivid humor and pertinent angles. Every episode offers a recommendation or more, whether it is a book, a movie, an essay, or something else.
The title says it all.
This podcast explores in depth the emotions we feel, why we have them, how we express what these emotions represent. It can be about the constant desire to please, the lack of self-confidence, why men rarely cry, or about falling in love.
Louie Media produces this Emotions podcast, and as with all their productions, you will enjoy the quality of each episode, from the editing to the content.
Rarely do we question thoroughly the emotions that pass through us, inhabit us, and move us daily. This podcast will make you wonder, ponder, and consider it all.
I could go on, given the vast array of top podcasts produced in France. Hopefully, you will be curious, and this article will inspire you to discover more.
Which are your favourite podcasts made in France or in French language? Please share with us in the comments section below.
1-5 All are graphics of podcast five brands listed.