9 French Netflix series that aren't Emily in Paris

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
9 French Netflix series that aren't Emily in Paris
The cast of Netflix series Emily in Paris. Photo by Jamie McCarthy / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Look, we're not getting involved in the Emily in Paris debate - if you love it, great. If you hate it, fine.


And if you love to hate it we highly recommend this hilarious Twitter thread from UK-based French academic Arthur Asseraf.


But if you want to explore the world of French series further, we have some picks for shows that are both entertaining and will teach you something about France. 


Au service de la France (A very secret service)

This is a smart, funny and self-deprecating series set in the French intelligence services in the early 1960s.

New recruit André Merlaux must navigate the murky world of spies as the Cold War continues and France's former colonies gain their independence - but all his colleagues really care about is their primes (bonuses), pots (workplace drinks) and getting their expenses claims tamponné (rubber stamped).


DrĂ´le (Standing Up)

Foreign series about people living in Paris are often criticised for offering a romanticised view of the capital - and presenting a world where everyone is rich, white and lives in the central arrondissements.

If you want an antidote to that, try Drôle. It's not grim and gritty, in fact as the title suggests it's funny, but it's just a little more realistic about the lives of young people in Paris, in this case a group who are trying to make it as stand-up comedians. 

READ ALSO 7 TV shows that will help you understand France

Dix Pour Cent (Call My Agent)

The series follows the work, life and loves of agents at talent agency ASK. It's a fast-paced comedy and each episode features a cameo from a French star of stage, screen or internet so it functions as a crash course on the rich and famous of France.

It's genuinely hilarious and the stars who feature – big names all – are not afraid to laugh at themselves, so you will witness Monica Bellucci hitting on all the young men in Paris and Jean Dujardin going 'full Day-Lewis' before gnawing the head off a live rabbit.


Starring Camille Cottin (Andrea in Call My Agent) this film follows the 'bitch' of the title as she goes to London and tried to fulfil her life ambition of marrying Britain's Prince Harry (this was made before his marriage, naturally).

It's slapstick humour in many places and doesn't have much in the way of sophisticated social critique - it's just fun and also flags up the frankly bizarre French obsession with British royals.

READ ALSO 12 popular French films that will teach you something about France


This became one of the most-watched Netflix series of 2020, a thoroughly deserved accolade for an extraordinary show, starring the always brilliant Omar Sy.

It's a reworking of the classic literary character Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief, and it bears some similarity in tone to the British series Sherlock - another modern reworking of a literary character.

It's smart, fast-paced, sexy and fun and follows the adventures of Assane Diop as he scams his way through Paris society and looks to get revenge on those whose wronged his father.


Family Business 

After learning that cannabis is set to be legalised in France, a Jewish family in Paris set about turning their kosher butchers into a soon-to-be-legal marijuana shop.

Cleverly placed comedy lies around every corner with impromptu trips to Amsterdam, new police neighbours and countless family secrets that just can't stay under wraps, and it's also a great crash course in the super-fast street slang spoken by less well off Parisians.

READ ALSO 5 films that show what France is really like 

Plan Coeur (The Hook-Up Plan)

This series starts in Bridget Jones territory - a heartbroken Elsa struggles to get over her ex-boyfriend so her best mates decide to hire an escort boy to play a new love interest and get her out of her funk - but ends up somewhere altogether more interesting.

Via a special episode set during lockdown that manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking about a very strange time, the series takes in some big issues, from abortion to local politics, climate breakdown to the start-up economy, while never losing its fun, frothy tone.


8 rue de l'Humanité (Stuck Together)

Speaking of lockdown, if you're ready for a film dealing with that strange time in March and April 2020, this comedy comes highly recommended.

It follows the inhabitants of an apartment block in Paris as they deal (or not) with the stay-at-home orders and attestations of the first lockdown. Bittersweet is hardly adequate to describe it.


The first-ever French-language original produced by Netflix, Marseille tracks the city’s mayor of 20 years (played by Gérard Depardieu) as he locks horns with former student turned political rival.

It's a highly melodramatic potboiler with sex, scandal, plotting and definitely no resemblance at all to certain well-known names on the French political scene. Despite the plot, there's nothing too political or challenging about the series – a fun soap opera, Marseille is great to kill some time whilst picking up some French (mostly swearwords and sexual terms).

The above are all available on Netflix, but here's a couple more that are slightly harder to find, but definitely worth the hunt.

Engrenages (Spiral)

If you're looking for gritty then this is it - the series follows a group of cops working major crimes in Paris (and if you're squeamish then maybe look away during the numerous morgue scenes).

As well as solving crimes, the series also follows the lives and complicated loves of the small group of police officers - lead by Capitaine Laure Berthaud - and the lawyers and judges that they work with. As well as being utterly compelling, the criminal and legal processes depicted are unusually accurate, so it's a helpful intro to the French legal system.

It was made by French pay TV channel Canal Plus and has appeared on the BBC.

Le Bureau des légendes (The Bureau) 

This contemporary spy thriller is apparently based on real events and follows French agents from the Direction générale de la Sécurité extérieure (DGSE) as they unravel plots and battle threats to France.

It's tense, tightly plotted and utterly compelling, leaving many bereft when it ended in 2020 after five series.

This is another Canal Plus series, that is now available on DVD box set as well. 


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Julie 2024/01/20 10:32
I love Alice Nevers, but I'm not able to find the last few seasons! Tandem is pretty fun too- and is filmed in and around Montpellier so has some beautiful scenery.
Kristine 2024/01/19 04:40
Like Jane, I also couldn't find the titles below on Netflix, tried French and English to no avail. Au service de la France (A very secret service) : Engrenages (Spiral) : Le Bureau des légendes (The Bureau)
Jane 2024/01/18 18:37
I tried to find several of these on Netflix: Connasse, Au Service de la France, and Le Bureau, and none showed up.
Rebecca Brite 2024/01/18 17:03
Omar Sy as Assane Diop isn't trying to "avenge those whose wronged his father" – he's seeing to avenge his father by taking revenge on those who wronged him.

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