For members


5 of Omar Sy’s best French-language films and TV series

French actor Omar Sy's profile is rapidly rising in Hollywood with a series of blockbuster films and a new Netflix deal, but he has also done some great work in French cinema. Here's our pick of his back catalogue.

French actor Omar Sy
French actor Omar Sy. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP

Les Intouchables (Untouchable) – 2011

This is the film that saw Sy really break through in France, a more serious role after an early career in mostly comedy or light fare.

Inspired by true events, Les Intouchables tells the story of Philippe (François Cluzet), a rich man who is left paralysed after a paragliding accident. Trapped inside his own dysfunctioning body, Philippe is frustrated and depressed, unable to take care of himself.

Enter Driss (Sy) – the tall, handsome black man with an unrelentingly optimistic approach to life despite his tough background. It’s a clash of two different Frances – Philippe’s wealthy and white and Driss’ poor and black – and two men who turn out to have much more in common than they think. 

READ ALSO 12 popular films that teach you something about France

Chocolat – 2016

No, not the Johnny Depp film about the chocolate-maker, this is loosely based on the true life story of 19th-century black circus clown Rafael Padilla, who took the stage name Chocolat.

The biopic allows Sy to show off his comedy gifts and his talent for physical performance through the clowning routines, but also tackles some tough questions around prejudice and stereotyping.

It also features a classic ‘French ending’.

Tout simplement Noir (Simply Black) – 2020

This film saw a return to comedy for Sy, playing an unemployed actor who hits on the idea of organising a march protesting about the under-representation of black voices in the media as a way of boosting his career.

The film itself is a little uneven in its tone, but it gives Sy the opportunity to demonstrate his range, from slapstick comedy through to serious subjects and emotional moments.

READ ALSO 5 Netflix shows that will teach you French as the locals speak it

Omar Sy and Virginie Efira at the Berlin premier of Police (Night Shift)

Omar Sy and Virginie Efira at the Berlin premier of Police (Night Shift). Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Police (Night Shift) – 2020

This remarkable film from director Anne Fontaine tells a simple story – three police officers are tasked with transferring a failed asylum seeker to the airport so that he can be deported.

What makes it so compelling is the shifting narrative – showing the same events of the day from the different perspectives of the three officers – and the startling performances from Sy and his co-stars Virginie Efira and Grégory Gadebois.

It’s great if you want to understand some of the problems in France around policing, racism and migration.

ANALYSIS How did France’s relationship with its own police get so bad?

Lupin (2020)

A dubbed-into-English version of this exists on Netflix, but for our money it has more nuance and character in French.

It’s a clever modern rethink of the classic Arsène Lupin novels, with a lot of glitz, glamour and complicated plot twists (and bears some similarity to the British show Sherlock, another re-imagining of a classic character from literature).

You can watch the show for the fun and thrills alone, but there are also some serious points about racism, prejudice and corruption in France.

It became Netflix’s third most watched series ever, according to internal company data, and helped propel Sy to a multi-year Netflix deal, meaning we can expect to see more of him in the future, although whether his new work will be in English or French is not yet clear.

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For members


Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.


Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.