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The 10 Greatest French Christmas Movies

The 10 Greatest French Christmas Movies

Every year, the month of December rhymes with Christmas. And what better way to get in the mood than by watching a good old Christmas movie by the fire and waiting for Santa Claus to come. Also, maybe it is the time of the year when you are looking for French gifts.

Today, we have compiled for you 10 French Christmas movies ranging from comedy, to drama, to animation, so that every member of the family will find something to enjoy.

1 – The Christmas Tree (1969)

French title: L’Arbre de Noël

Director: Terence Young

The Christmas Tree is a French-Italian drama film adapted from the novel of the same name by Michel Bataille. This one has the particularity to have been shot in two versions: French and international version. The film is also one of the last films in which played Bourvil (French actor and successful French singer), who died the year after its release.

Synopsis: The film tells the story of Pascal, a ten-year-old boy, on a summer vacation with his father in Corsica. One day, while he was watching the seaside, he saw a military plane carrying a nuclear bomb explode not far from where he was. Following this tragic event, the little boy was irradiated and suffered from leukemia. With only six months to live, his father does everything he can to give him the most wonderful last days of his life.

2 – Santa Claus Is a Stinker (1982)

French title: Le père Noël est une ordure

Director: Jean-Marie Poiré

Santa Claus Is a Stinker is a French comedy film adapted from the play of the same name written and produced in 1979. It features some of the greatest French actors, better known as the Splendid troupe. Even today, Santa Claus Is a Stinker is considered the greatest French Christmas movie ever made.

Synopsis: The film follows the adventures of the volunteers of the SOS Distress Friendship association, a Parisian telephone hotline, on Christmas Eve. Throughout the evening, the members of the association will meet some crazy people and will be confronted with some very crazy situations, from food poisoning to the discovery of a dead body.

3 – Will It Snow for Christmas? (1996)

French title: Y aura-t-il de la neige à Noël ?

Director: Sandrine Veysset

Will there be snow at Christmas? is a French Christmas film that addresses meaningful social issues. It manages to combine themes that are nevertheless opposite, such as tenderness and delicacy, violence, and drama. We thus wonder about the violence of rural life in the last century, but also about the authoritarianism and incest that could reign there.

Synopsis: The film depicts the life of a single mother raising her seven children alone on a farm in the south of France, while the children’s father returns to his official family each night. Despite the difficulties of everyday life, this woman tries to preserve her children from violence and deprivation through the love she gives them.

4 – Season’s Beatings (1999)

French title: La Bûche

Director: Danièle Thompson

Season’s Beatings is a French Christmas movie combining comedy and drama that features many great French actresses such as Emmanuelle Béart or Charlotte Gainsbourg. The film allowed the latter to receive the César for best-supporting actress in 2000, while it won the Lumières award for best screenplay the same year.

Synopsis: The film tells the Christmas story of a special blended family composed of three girls and their parents, now separated. During the course of the evening, many revelations will upset the lives of the three young women, including the discovery of a new family member…

5 – Merry Christmas (2005)

French title: Joyeux Noël

Director: Christian Carion

Merry Christmas is a French Christmas film that can be described as a historical war drama. This feature film was co-produced by several major players in the First World War: France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Romania. Critically acclaimed, the film was nominated in many categories of the most important awards in 2006 (Oscar for Best International Film, César, Golden Stars, Golden Globes, Crystal Globes), winning 7 awards including 6 César nominations. 

Synopsis: The film follows the daily life of soldiers at the front during the end of 1914 in the First World War. It then depicts the incredible event that occurred on Christmas Eve, namely a short truce where German and French soldiers put down their weapons, gather, exchange cigarettes and chocolate, and wish each other “Merry Christmas”.

6 – Santa’s Apprentice (2010)

French title: L’Apprenti père Noël 

Director: Luc Vinciguerra

The Santa’s Apprentice is a French animated movie produced by the studio La Fabrique, co-financed by Gaumont production. The cartoon is a direct adaptation of the television series of the same name. Following the success of the first part, The Santa’s Apprentice had a sequel, entitled The Magic Snowflake.

Synopsis: The animation follows the adventures of Santa Claus, then at retirement age, who must choose an apprentice who will soon replace him. According to the prophecy, the suitor must be called Nicolas, be an orphan, and have a big heart. A young boy seems to meet all his criteria, but he lacks confidence and is not very clever. Will Santa be able to make him the new Santa?

7 – Santa Claus! (2014)

French title: Le père Noël

Director: Alexandre Coffre

Santa Claus! is a French Christmas movie that is similar to an American-style comedy, and is in the tradition of great Christmas films. Moreover, the new duo of Tahar Rahim and the young Victor Cabal works particularly well on screen. All in all, a nice Christmas movie that will make young and adults laugh.

Synopsis: The film tells the story of Antoine’s special night as a little boy who surprises a burglar disguised as Santa Claus who then breaks into his house to steal his parents’ jewelry. Believing the man to be the real Santa Claus, the young boy follows him throughout the night and embarks on an adventure that will change his life.

8 – Christmas & Co. (2017)

French title: Santa & Cie

Director: Alain Chabat

Christmas & Co
Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais in Christmas & Co / @UniFrance

Christmas & Co. is a French Christmas movie written, directed, and starring Alain Chabat. Following the formula of the goofy French comedies, the film is in line with the best French comedies, making subtle references to classics like Fear City: A Family-Style Comedy. We can also see the two comedians of the Palmashow with Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais. Santa & Cie is also the latest successful French Christmas film to date with over 2 million box office tickets.

Synopsis: While preparations for Christmas Eve are in full swing, all 92,000 elves in charge of making presents fall ill at the same time. Santa Claus must leave his kingdom and come down to Earth to find a cure as soon as possible: vitamin C. He will then have to surround himself with the best people he can in order to get the elves back on their feet and guarantee the smooth running of the Christmas holidays.

9 – Love in Lapland (2017)

French title: Coup de foudre à Noël

Director: Arnauld Mercadier

Love in Lapland à Noël is a French Christmas movie shot entirely in Lapland. The romantic comedy is part of the series of TV movies “Coup de foudre à…” notably broadcast on TF1. This one was one of the biggest successes of the series with an audience of over 6.4 million viewers during its first broadcast in France. You are free to make your own opinion. 

Synopsis: The film follows the journey of Charlotte Martron, a court-appointed administrator who has been commissioned to shut down a Swedish toy company. Upon her arrival, she meets the owner of the family business, Martial, a kind-hearted family man. Despite her past love affairs, she quickly falls under his spell and gradually forgets her mission. 

10 – A Good Doctor (2019)

French title: Docteur ?

Director: Tristan Séguéla

A Good Doctor is a French Christmas comedy starring many big names in French cinema such as Michel Blanc, star actor of Les Bronzés, Frank Gastambide, successful actor and producer, Artus, renowned comedian or French stand-up comedian Hakim Jemili. The film has been critically acclaimed, winning the Prix des lycéens at the Sarlat Film Festival in 2019 and the Grand Prix at the Liège International Comedy Film Festival the same year.

Synopsis: The film follows the Christmas evening of Serge, the only doctor on duty at SOS-Médecin while all his colleagues are at home with their families. While he’s doing emergency surgery after emergency surgery, he receives a call for help from a close friend at whose house he meets Malek, an Uber Eats delivery man who has come to deliver her friend’s food. After Serge locks his back, he calls on Malek to help him during this eventful Christmas night.

We hope you enjoyed this selection of the best French Christmas movies!  Let me know if there are other French Christmas movies that should be on this list. We can update this article if needed 🙂

For more recommendations about French movies, you can read our article about the best French comedy movies.   

Photo Credits

@UniFrance / Santa & Cie (cover picture)

@UniFrance / Santa & Cie

Translated into English by Sacha

Catherine Laz

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

You forgot Un conte de Noël by Arnaud Deplechin. Very well-,know with a top cast including Catherine Deneuve.

Sacha

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Thanks Catherine for mentioning this French Christmas movie! :)