Seven of the best French films for the summer

With film festivals and outdoor screenings galore, summer in France is a great time to watch a movie. But if there's no events near don't worry - our friends at Lost in Frenchlation have picked the best summer films so you can stage your own screening.

Seven of the best French films for the summer
Photo: AFP

Before you say you didn’t do much of anything over the summer, do the next best thing by watching these iconic French films guaranteed to match every summer mood under the sun.


1. Paris au mois d'août (Paris In August) – 1966

If you're in Paris right now you might have noticed that it's strangely empty (I mean you'll often even get a seat on the Metro) as thousands of people take the month off and head for the hills or the beach. The semi-deserted capital is the setting for this classic 1966 movie, starring iconic French actor and singer Charles Aznavour. He plays Henri Plantin, a married man who is left alone in Paris as his family leave town.

At first he wonders how he will pass the time until a fortunate meeting with an English model.

Watch when you’re in the mood to be changed by a chance encounter.

2. Conte d'Eté (A Summer's Tale) – 1996

A new job, a seaside resort, and three beautiful women, what more could one boy want? 

In one of Eric Rohmer’s most delightful films, Conte d’Ete follows Gaspard as he tries to juggle different relationships while on vacation. Trouble ensues along with insights on young love.

Watch when you’re in the mood to fall in love, but not commit (which is the very definition of a summer romance, no?)

3. La fille du 14 juillet (The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu) – 2013

Now you might think that a month of holidays is long enough – but not if you're trying to win round your true love. The premise of this comedy is that, due to an economic crisis, the government has reduced the holiday period. That means that Louvre guard Hector has just weeks to win the affections of Truquette before the holidays end and they both have to return to work.

Heavily influenced by the classics of the French New Wave, watch this when you want a visual feast.

4. L'Inconnu du lac (Stranger by the Lake) – 2013

Set on a nudist beach, this is terrifying but not for the reasons you would expect.

Young holidaymaker Franck passes his sunbathing and observing the – often promiscuous – comings and goings on the stretch of beach. But with the arrival of the mysterious and handsome stranger Michel things take a much darker turn.

A reinvention of the summer scare flick, watch when you’re in the mood for a sleeper hit that will make you look over your shoulder.

5. 37°2 le matin (Betty Blue) – 1986

With the action moving between a sweltering Paris and the beaches of southern France, this tells the story of the tumultuous relationship of Betty and Zorg.

The tensely-wound melodrama was nominated for a Bafta and an Oscar in 1986 for Best Foreign Language Film and, like all the best French films, has both sex and death. 

Watch when you’re in the mood for some controlled chaos.

6. Naissance des pieuvres (Water Lilies) – 2007

Summer is the time for heightened emotions and (if you're a teenager) angst-filled crushes, perfectly captured here by the great cinematic duo of Céline Sciamma and Adèle Haenel.

Sciamma masterfully captures the feeling of teen angst that only becomes more enhanced and urgent as the temperature rises. Pauline Acquart plays Marie, who becomes obsessed with joining the synchronized swimming team for Floriane, a rebel played by Haenel. 

Watch when you’re in the mood for remembering all of the embarrassing things you did for your teenage crushes.

7. Ce Sentiment de l'été (This Summer Feeling) – 2016

Summer and death are perhaps not a classic pairing, but this is why the French film industry is not like Hollywood.

Lives are forever changed when Sasha, a young French woman dies and her fiance, Lawrence, and her sister Zoe, must come to terms with her death.

As the title suggests, the duo must find again what it means to have that summer feeling of having everything seem possible even when everything is going wrong.

Watch for the beautiful, melancholic shots of summer in Paris, Annecy, and New York.

Yeeseon Chae works for Lost in Frenchlation, a Paris-based cinema club that shows French film with English subtitles. For details of the programme of screenings, click here.  





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French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.