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How to Watch French TV in the US & Abroad With a VPN in 2023: Stream French TV Channels From Anywhere

French channels and streaming sites host a wide variety of not only entertaining, but also cultural and educational content, so it’s no wonder international audiences are intrigued. If you’re not sure how to watch French TV series and other content outside France, this is the guide for you.

Kit Copson
By Kit Copson (Writer, Briefing Editor)
— Last Updated: 2023-06-02T12:00:00+00:00 Facts checked by Vildana Bratic

If you’re a French language learner or are simply missing French TV while traveling abroad, geoblocking can make trying to access your favorite streaming services and sites feel hopeless, but all is far from lost. In this guide, we’ll show you how to watch French TV in the U.S. and abroad with a VPN (virtual private network). 

Key Takeaways: Watch French TV From Anywhere

  • Many French channels have content available for streaming on their websites, including ARTE, TV5MONDE and TF1. Some sites have content that’s available worldwide, whereas others restrict their content to France and select other locations. 
  • If you’re outside France, you can get full access to French streaming services and sites by connecting to a French server on a VPN. 
  • ExpressVPN is the best VPN with French servers, followed by NordVPN and Surfshark

Though some French TV sites are available in the U.S. and other countries outside France, some are only available within France and, sometimes, Europe. If you try to access content on these sites from outside available regions, you’ll get the message “Cette vidéo n’est pas disponible dans votre pays,” which means “This video is not available in your country.”

Fortunately, you can get around these geo-restrictions and watch all the French content you want with a reputable VPN like ExpressVPN — our number one streaming VPN recommendation. Read on to find out how that works and where you can watch French TV abroad. 

  • It depends on the channel. Some, like ARTE and TV5MONDE, have a selection of content for viewers outside France. Others are only available in France and, in some cases, other European countries. In any case, you can use a VPN to access any French streaming website you want.

  • TVMONDE5 is available via cable or satellite in the U.S., and on SlingTV and fuboTV. TV5 MONDE Plus is included with your TV5 MONDE subscription. Alternatively, you can connect to a French VPN server and access content on the French TV5 MONDE website (tv5monde.com).

  • You can explore various free French platforms like ARTE (some content is available worldwide, but not all) and TF1 (MYTF1) while connected to a French VPN server if you’re in the U.S. These services and many others have plenty of great free content, including some American shows.

How to Watch French TV: Where Can I Find French Content Online?

There are a multitude of French TV channels and streaming platforms packed with great content for both native speakers and French learners alike. Check out your options in the table below. If a VPN is required for those in the U.S., scroll down for our step-by-step tutorial on how to use a VPN to access your chosen service or site.

Some websites have different versions in different countries; for example, TV5MONDE has a U.S. version. While you may be able to access some content in the U.S. and other countries, you need a VPN to access the full French content library on some services. 

Channel:ContentLocationsUS VPNEnglish SubtitlesNotes
Netflix FranceFilms
Documentaries
TV series
🇫🇷FranceSelect content has English subtitles
Canal PlusTV series
Films
Documentaries
Sports
Live TV
🇫🇷France
🇪🇺EU
N/A
TV5MONDENews
Documentaries
Live content
Language learning
🇺🇸US
🇫🇲Pacific
🇪🇺EU
🇨🇦Canada
Available via satellite or cable in the U.S., also available via SlingTV & fuboTV, free content on French site with ads (VPN required)
TV5MONDE plus comes with your subscription
ARTEFree cultural TV
Documentaries
Movies
Concerts
🇫🇷France
🇩🇪Germany
Available in six languages, including English; over 400 programs available worldwide
France 24 News🌍World
🇺🇸US
Available in four languages, free content, subtitles on English content only
BFMTVNews
Weather
🌍World
🇺🇸US
Free content (with ads)
MYTF
(TF1)
TV series
Films
🇫🇷FranceFree content (with ads)
FranceTV*TV series
Films
Documentaries
Sports
🇫🇷FranceFree content (with ads)
GulliKids TV
Cartoons
Series
🇫🇷FranceFree content (with ads)
FluentULanguage learning🌍World
🇺🇸US
14-day free trial
6play
(M6)
News
TV series
Shows
🇫🇷FranceFree content (with ads), some is only available with a subscription
* France2, France3, France4, France5

Where Can I Watch French TV for Free?

You can watch French TV (live, replays, movies, documentaries, etc.) for free on various platforms, including ARTE, TV5MONDE, France24, BFMTV, TF1 (via MYTFI), France2, France2, France4, France5 (via FranceTV) and Gulli. If you need a VPN for one of these websites, you can try one with the money-back guarantee most VPN providers offer when you sign up. 

Just note that these services include ads. You might also need to sign up for a free account with some of them. If the service doesn’t accept your U.S. zip code when you sign up, Google a French one to use. 

How Does a VPN Help You Unblock French Content Online?

A VPN helps you unblock content by allowing you to connect to servers in different countries. This changes your IP address from one in the country you’re in to one in the country you’re connected to, thereby allowing you to access content in that country.

For example, if you’re in the U.S. and want to access a geoblocked service in France, you can connect to a French server on a VPN to get a French IP address

Not only is a VPN useful for unblocking streaming services and sites, but it’s also an important piece of software for ensuring you stay safe and anonymous online, especially if you’re traveling and are using public WiFi networks. A VPN masks your IP address so that nobody (including the government, your internet service provider and hackers) can access your data. 

How to Watch French Shows & Movies on Netflix

The Netflix content library isn’t the same everywhere — it changes depending on what country you’re in due to licensing agreements. For example, the French Netflix library has some of the same content as the American library, but a lot of different content too. 

Netflix France hosts an extensive library of both French and foreign content, so we definitely recommend checking it out if you have a Netflix account and want to watch TV series and films in French. 

All you need to do is connect to a French server on a VPN, then log in to your Netflix account and start browsing. There’s a category entirely dedicated to French content. Just be aware that English subtitles are available for some French content, but not all.  

How to Watch French TV Online With a VPN

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to access all content on arte.fr (the full French library). Though some content is available to watch worldwide on ARTE’s website without a VPN, some, including livestreaming, is unavailable in countries outside France, Germany and select European countries. 

If this is the case with the content you’ve selected, you’ll see the error message in the image below. 

arte unavailable
While ARTE has a selection of worldwide content, the full content library is geo-restricted. You’ll get this error message if you try to access content that’s not available in your region.

To get around this, follow the steps below. Note that you can use this method to access other French streaming services and French TV channel sites like TV5MONDE and TF1, as well as Netflix France. 

  1. Get a VPN

    Sign up for a plan with a reliable and secure VPN service like ExpressVPN. If you’re worried about the cost, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, as do many other VPN services (recommendations farther down).

    get-expressvpn
  2. Download the VPN

    Follow the post-signup prompts to download and install the VPN’s app. If there are no prompts, look for a “download” tab on the website.

    download expressvpn
  3. Connect to a French Server

    Open the VPN app on your device and select a French server. Hit the “connect” button.

  4. Start Streaming on ARTE

    Open the French ARTE website (arte.fr), select the content you want to watch and click “regarder” to start streaming. If you have any problems, connect to another French server.

    arte watch

The 3 Best VPNs for Watching French TV

For streaming French TV outside France, you’ll need a quality VPN with French servers. Here are our top recommendations for watching French TV online. 

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn france server
ExpressVPN has a diverse selection of French servers to help you access French TV content from anywhere. 

Pros:

  • Various French servers
  • Excellent security record
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Expensive

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for watching French TV abroad because it has a good selection of French servers to choose from as well as excellent security features and speeds. It’s also the best VPN for beginners, thanks to its straightforward desktop and mobile app experience. Basically, it’s got all you could ask for from a VPN for streaming — except in one area. 

We’ll make no bones about it: ExpressVPN is expensive. That said, it’s a case of getting what you pay for, so, if you’re up for spending a bit more on quality and reliability, ExpressVPN is the provider for you. Fortunately, it’s got a 30-day money-back guarantee you can try it out with. Have a read of our full ExpressVPN review if you’re curious to know more. 

2. NordVPN

nordvpn app france
NordVPN is an affordable, fast VPN with French servers.

Pros:

  • Best average speeds
  • Affordable long-term plans
  • Very secure servers

Cons:

  • Challenging mobile interface

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper than ExpressVPN, NordVPN is another reliable streaming VPN. Its two-year plans are affordable, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Moreover, here at Cloudwards, we test VPN speeds on a daily basis, and have found NordVPN’s speeds to be the fastest on average.  

In terms of things we’re less keen on, we’d like NordVPN’s mobile app interface to be a bit easier to navigate. Nevertheless, we always have a smooth experience with the desktop app, and, overall, consider NordVPN to be a great choice for streamers. Feel free to peruse our NordVPN review to find out more.

3. Surfshark

surfshark open france
Surfshark is a very affordable VPN provider with impressive speeds.

Pros:

  • Affordable plans
  • Many security features 
  • Fast speeds 

Cons:

  • Higher latency on US servers

Surfshark has very reasonable annual and 24-month plans, which gives it a major edge over its close competitors. It’s also packed with online security features — not just the basics, but extras like MultiHop servers and NoBorders mode. Our Surfshark review shares more on this. 

Surfshark is also a very fast VPN, joining NordVPN and ExpressVPN at the top of our fastest VPNs roundup, and showing impressive worldwide speeds in all areas (downloads, uploads, latency). On the other hand, it has shown higher latency in the U.S. Though this doesn’t affect French servers, it’s just a heads up for those who also like to game. 

Surfshark Starter
  • Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker.
  • Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited
  • Yes
Surfshark One
  • Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias
  • Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited

Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch French TV Online?

Windscribe is the best free VPN for accessing your favorite French TV shows, French Open on France TV and other content because it has two free servers in France. It offers up to 15GB free data per month, but this won’t last long if you’re streaming French content on a regular basis. You can find out more about Windscribe and its paid and free plans in our Windscribe review

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to watch French TV shows or access your favorite French streaming platform, there are plenty of options for streaming French content in the U.S. and abroad. Some content is available outside France, whereas some isn’t. Fortunately, that won’t be a problem if you connect to a French VPN server on a VPN that’s adept at overcoming geoblocks

What’s your favorite French channel or streaming platform? Have we missed any options that our other readers might want to check out? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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