"Very few Parisians actually read Le Monde.
Yet, all agree that le Monde, c'est un bon journal.
Yes, Parisians do have opinions about things they are not familiar with.
Call that talent."
- Stuff Parisians like, written by Olivier Magny
You may be asking yourself : “Which French newspapers should I read as an intermediate reader?” or “What’s the French equivalent of the Guardian?” (or another newspaper you like)
And I promise to answer these questions in a sec.
Lately I’ve had many students asking me for tips on which French newspapers to read so they can easily start a conversation at work or at a party. They’re right about that, in fact regularly reading newspapers in French will especially help you with the following things :
- You’ll understand more of what the French discuss among them
How do you think a French guy decides what he’ll be talking about during social events?
He reads the news and more or less repeats what he’s read, perhaps hoping to sound knowledgeable and aware of the latest trends.
Following a conversation during lunch break or a house party should be much more easy once you’re up to date on the most popular French topics of discussion and you’re used to reading about them in French.
- You’ll initiate small talk with French natives using the right vocabulary and tone
Once you’ve spent time reading the same stuff as your coworkers or friends (make sure to ask them what they like reading in the subway), then you’ll be able to use the same expressions, discuss the same trends.
Above all you’ll avoid the most common mistake an expat can make which is to use extremely formal language just because he’s used to reading an academic newspaper such as Le Monde.
Referring to the quote at the top of this post, if someone tells you they read le Monde and you should too, then he’s probably trying to impress you because most people prefer reading the news on Facebook.
This said, I decided to give you once and for all the ultimate list of French newspapers so you won’t ever need to look for this kind of reading material.
I wanted this list to be unique so I looked through my teacher archives and found a bunch of alternatives to the popular Figaro that I hope you’ll love and make your reading routine much more enjoyable.
Above all, most of these newspapers and magazines are extremely popular among the French crowd so you don’t need to be afraid of missing out on the references they use.
I’ve included the following categories and added both easy newspapers for intermediate French learners and more complex material for people working in specific fields :
If you can’t find the topics that you really care about, then there’s a good chance they will be in my special list of fun and inspiring French blogs. If not, let me know in the comments or in an email and I'll help you out!
Before you scroll down, make sure to check this quick FAQ about French newspapers :
Which English newspapers can I read in French?
Only one big newspaper I know of is available in French : le Huffington Post has plenty of articles written in simple or informal French, but you won’t find any translations of English articles. If you’re looking for that, head to le Courrier international which features translations of publications from everywhere around the world.
What are the political inclinations of le Monde, le Figaro and other big newspapers?
Here’s an overview for you based on what they wrote in their About section, do be warned that terms such as left or right-wing naturally depend on the country you come from.
Monde : center-left
Figaro : center-right
Libération : left-wing
L’Express : right-wing
What’s the French equivalent of the XYZ newspaper I love to read?
This is an overview purely based on what I believe is similar, so please forgive me if you don’t think they’re ressemblant enough.
The Times : le Figaro
The Guardian : la Libération
The New York Time : le Monde
The Wall Street Journal : Challenges
The Economist : Les Echos
What’s the easiest to read between le Monde and le Figaro?
There’s no doubt that le Monde is a newspaper made for academics, thus making it difficult to read for non-natives. Le Figaro is much more easy to read though it would not be my first choice for someone who’s just starting with French reading.
Are all French newspapers free to read online?
Actually, most newspapers that are updated on an hourly basis require you to subscribe for a (very reasonable) fee, for about 15€ per month. Libération and Les Echos give you access to 5-8 articles per month, while Le Monde and Le Figaro limit your access to certain articles.
That’s why I advise using the list below as I made sure to give you magazines and newspapers that are free of charge without losing the quality of information.
Is there a way around the limit of articles you can read?
Sneaky you, well yes there actually is. Simply open a private window in your browser and that usually does the trick.
Which newspaper would you advise for simple French?
Which newspaper would you recommend for someone who doesn’t like to read?
GLOBAL NEWS & POLITICS
Topics : Politics, French society, News
Difficulty : Medium to Hard (some long posts, either formal or informal French and plenty of cultural references)
Read if : you're looking for an alternative source of news and have a wide range of interests.Recommended article : Méfiez-vous des règles de la Saint-Valentin au Japon
2 Huffington Post
All kinds of topics from all over the web
Link to homepage : www.huffingtonpost.fr
Topics : Global news, French society and culture
Difficulty : Medium to hard (short and long posts, neutral or formal French depending on the contributor)
Read if : you want to read about many topics easily.
Recommended article : Cette startup suédoise fonctionne sans PDG ni chefs depuis 4 ans déjà
Why it's great : If you happen to be a fan of the Huffington Post, then you'll be delighted to hear there's a French version as well (actually Quebec has their own version too!). Columnists from le Monde publish original content as well as curated blog posts from all over the francophone web. If you don't know the Huffington Post yet, then expect a mix of quick anecdotes, the latest trends and tons of topics like entertainment, high-tech, health, etc...
3 Courrier international
Translated news from all over the world
Link to homepage : www.courrierinternational.com
Topics : Global news, Politics, Society
Difficulty : Medium to hard (short and long posts, neutral French)
Read if : you're curious about what's going on around the world and you like to get your news right from the source.
Recommended article : Quiz: Qui l'a dit, Trump ou Le Pen?
Why it's great : Besides writing their own articles, this newspaper follows the great concept of sharing pieces from international newspapers. This week for example you'll find translated posts from Liban, Thailand and Spain. An extremely interesting and open-minded section is "L'élection française vue par la presse étrangère". You can also search for news by country and have a bit of educated fun by doing a quiz based on recent news.
Raw & controversial reports on today's society
Link to homepage : www.vice.com/fr
Topics : French culture, Society, Global news
Difficulty : Hard (long posts, formal and informal French)
Read if : you're extremely open-minded and interested in unusual topics
Recommended article : Posteur sur Instagram pendant une semaine
Why it's great : This is not a magazine for everyone to read, I actually had a small hesitation before putting it on this list but I believe in a non-censured world so here you go. The articles you'll find in Vice are often disturbing though interesting, either because of the topic or the angle chosen to describe a certain evolution of society. Read at your own risk!
Link to homepage : www.legorafi.fr
Topics : News, French society and culture
Difficulty : Medium (pretty short posts, neutral French, 100% ironic)
Read if : A. you don't take news too seriously
B. you'd like something light to read and share with your coworkers during lunch break
Why it's great : If you know the funny American newspaper the Onion, then there's a change you'll enjoy le Gorafi (anagram of "Figaro"). Expect a sarcastic tone, loads of false information and it'll probably make you laugh. There's even a Madame Gorafi section!
Recommended article : Menacer l'administration française, un raté
CULTURAL SCENE & LATEST TRENDS
Link to homepage : www.madmoizelle.com
Topics : Entertainment, French society, Crafts
Difficulty : Medium (short posts, videos, lots of slang)
Read if : A. you're a woman who doesn't mind reading about topics considered "taboo"
B. you want to learn the French that people use exclusively with friends and family.
Why it's great : Madmoizelle is the most diverse and fun French magazine you'll find online. You'll find literally any topic, from light news to serious debates. Expect DIY videos, recipes, tv series, trendy objects, beauty and much more. Make sure to check the weekly "Trouvailles d'internet" to start your week on a bright note.
Recommended article : Les standards de la beauté masculine dans le monde
Link to homepage : www.premiere.fr
Topics : Cultural scene, Entertainment, Society
Difficulty : Medium to hard (short posts, technical terms)
Read if : you want to know more about the French cultural scene
Recommended article : Critique de Fences avec Denzel Washington
Why it's great : French people love going to the movies, actually lots of them have a subscription to their local theater instead of Netflix. Premiere is a magazine that will tell you everything you need to know about the latest movies and series, including short reviews and anecdotes on celebrities. Ideal for people who want to start reading French.
Link to homepage : www.influencia.net
Topics : French society & cultural scene, Latest trends, Design
Difficulty : Medium (pretty short posts, some English terms)
Read if : A. you're majoring in marketing, arts or product design
B. you want to understand French subcultures a little better
Why it's great : Influencia is a gold mine for anyone young and curious. Among others, it includes the events you shouldn't miss, a section called "Data Trends" and lots of articles related to the art and ethics of marketing.
Recommended article : Un abribus aux Champs-Elysées transformé en machine à café
ECONOMICS & BUSINESS
Link to homepage : www.lesechos.fr
Topics : Economics, Business, Politics
Difficulty : Hard (lots of technical terms, usually long posts)
Read if : A. you're a student or academic in economics or politics
B. you work in the field of finances or you're an entrepreneur
Recommended article : Historique des présidentielles françaises
Why it's great : Les Echos is a must-read if you're in the field of finances or an entrepreneur. No one will argue that the language used here is complex, even for a native speaker. You won't want to miss this challenge if you want to fit in a French society where knowledge is power. Make sure you read the column "Les vrais-faux" where politician's quotes are thoroughly discussed.
Link to homepage : www.challenges.fr
Topics : Business, Economics, Politics
Difficulty : Medium to hard (short posts, technical terms)
Read if : A. you're looking for a newspaper that can discuss numbers and economics without losing its humor
B. you want to understand the business French culture better
Why it's great : Challenges goes above and beyond to make economics and business interesting for a bigger public. You'll find loads of graphics, or you could read about high-tech and cars when you're tired of statistics. If you're looking for help with your studies or job applications in France, you'll find the section "Emploi" and the top lists of French faculties really helpful.
Recommended article : Le burger trendy à 99% bio fait surface
SCIENCES & TECHNOLOGY
Link to homepage : www.rslnmag.fr
Topics : Business, Futuristic technology, IT
Difficulty : Medium to Hard (short posts, complex topics like ethics and business terms)
Read if : you're interested in articles about high-tech developments that go a little deeper than "Look at this brilliant phone with crystal-clear video and 1 tb of memory!!"
Why it's great : RSLN Mag consists of a mixture of short articles featuring high-tech in a column called "Vu sur le web" and deeper posts on the consequences of technology for today's society. Check out "Histoire du web" if you want to find out the origins of emojis, why "Hello, world!" was chosen in programming, and more.
Recommended article : Qui a envoyé le premier spam? (et pourquoi?)
Link to homepage : www.caminteresse.fr
Topics : Trivia, Health, Sciences
Difficulty : Medium to hard (short posts, a few technical terms)
Read if : A . you have a curious mind and like to start a conversation with "Did you know that...?"
B. you're looking for something easy to read that relates to sciences or history
Why it's great : This magazine is just like a tear-off calendar, with miscellaneous questions answered and explained with the help of academics. The articles are generally less than a minute read and can give you an interesting perspective of the French desire for more knowledge.
Recommended article : D'où vient la semaine de sept jours?
What you can do next
Before you leave this post to go on a fabulous reading binge, here are a few more tips on how to create a routine from newspaper reading.
Tip 1. Replacing one habit for another similar one is usually an easy switch. If you’re used to browsing through an online magazine in the subway to work or during breakfast, try reading French newspapers instead.
Tip 2. Today I’d like to encourage you to read the same newspapers and magazines as your French surrounding does. To do this, when you’re in a conversation or you’re following a group conversation between French natives, make a mental notes of the topics that are the most popular in your discussions. Then check the categories of this list and pick 2 newspapers that will help you contribute to future conversations.
This depends on who you hang out with so I can’t make a list for you here, but some of the categories I chose above should match with your list. If not, let me know or check out this list of fresh inspiring French bloggers.
Tip 3. If you have a question that I haven’t answered in the newspaper FAQ or you’d like to recommend a newspaper or magazine for this list, then please let me know in the comments so everyone can benefit!
Hi, great article, exactly what I was looking for. But is there an equivalent of the “i” newspaper, aimed at educated but lazy people, comme moi! 🙂
Bonjour Mark, glad you found this list useful! I recently started recommending Le Drenche for its short articles summarizing key points and arguments on current debates, it may interest you : https://ledrenche.ouest-france.fr/