From abroad, France is often seen as a standard of passion with Paris, the city of love, as well as the many romantic terms that are attributed to the French like “French lover” or “French kiss”.
In order to establish this reputation, France produces every year many films and romantic comedies of good quality. To celebrate love in this Valentine’s Day period, we propose you today to discover 15 of the best French romantic movies of all time.
Table of Contents
List of French Romantic Comedies
- Amélie (2001)
French title: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amélie is a Franco-German romantic comedy based on a period in the life of the writer Michel Folco. One of the most popular French films, it has been a worldwide success since its release, especially for its fictionalized portrayal of everyday life in Paris, particularly in the Montmartre district. With a high-profile cast including Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz, the film won countless awards upon its release, including 4 Césars.
Synopsis: As a young waitress in a Montmartre café, Amélie Poulain has made it her mission to make the lives of those around her better by discreetly intervening in their lives. But Amélie’s daily life is about to be turned upside down when she meets Nino Quincampoix, an atypical sex-shop employee, for whom she falls in love.
- Les Poupées russes (2005)
French title: Les Poupées russes
Director: Cédric Klapisch
A direct sequel to L’Auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), Les Poupées russes is a Franco-British romantic comedy written and directed by Cédric Klapisch. Critically acclaimed, the film was particularly appreciated by the French public for giving a faithful insight into the youth of the 2000s. Carried by a great Romain Duris, the French romantic film made more than 3 million tickets in France at its release, which will give rise to a sequel 8 years later: The Chinese Puzzle.
Synopsis: A 30-year-old writer, Xavier feels lost in life, both financially and romantically. He has had a series of one-night stands while his friends worry that he will never settle down. But following a professional opportunity that will lead him to travel to London and St. Petersburg, the young man will enter a new chapter in his life.
- I Do (2006)
French title: Prête-moi ta main
Director: Éric Lartigau
I Do is a French romantic comedy featuring such big names in French cinema as Alain Chabat and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Enhanced by a great cast and an atypical scenario, the film was one of the biggest successes of French cinema in 2006, exceeding 3.6 million admissions at the box office for a revenue of more than 25 million euros.
Synopsis: Luis, 43 years old, lives a peaceful life of a hardened bachelor. However, his family does not see his celibacy in a very good light and puts pressure on him to get married as soon as possible. Tired of this situation, Luis decides to hire an actress who would pretend to be his fiancée before abandoning him on the wedding day. This way, he will be able to feign heartache and escape the pressure of his family. However, his plan will not exactly go as he wished…
- Heartbreaker (2010)
French title: L’Arnacœur
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
L’arnacœur is a French romantic comedy starring Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis and François Damiens. It is one of the most successful French comedies internationally, especially in Russia, the UK, and Germany. The film manages to show different parts of France as the action takes place in Paris and in the South of France.
Synopsis: With the help of his sister and brother-in-law, Alex runs a company that specializes in rescuing women who are unhappy in their relationships. As a professional homewrecker, he seduces women at the request of their families to make them leave their husbands. One day, he gets the job of breaking up Juliette’s marriage, a rich heiress living the perfect love with a young Englishman. The task is more complicated than usual.
- Romantic Anonymous (2010)
French title: Les Émotifs anonymes
Director: Jean-Pierre Améris
Romantic Anonymous is a French-Belgian romantic comedy starring Benoît Poelvoorde. Despite its offbeat tone, the film deals with serious issues such as shyness and communication. It was later adapted into a play directed by Arthur Jugnot, and performed for the first time at the Avignon Festival in 2019.
Synopsis: A talented master chocolatier, Angélique Delange is above all a very emotional person. When her employer dies, she has to look for a new job and comes across the ad of Jean-René Van den Hugde, owner of a chocolate factory on the verge of bankruptcy. Both passionate about chocolate, they quickly fall in love but their shyness prevents them from admitting it.
- It Boy (2013)
French title: 20 ans d’écart
Director: David Moreau
It Boy is a French romantic comedy written and directed by David Moreau. It stars Belgian actress Virginie Efira and French actor Pierre Niney, who won the Golden Swann for best actor. As its French title suggests, the film focuses on the age difference in a romantic relationship.
Synopsis: A mature woman of 38, Alice Lantins has all the qualities to become the next editor-in-chief of “Rebelle” magazine. All of them, except for her uptight image that handicaps her career. To remedy this, she pretends to be in a relationship with Balthazar, a young student who has just turned 18. However, she soon realizes that she is not so indifferent to his charm…
- Rolling to You (2018)
French title: Tout le monde debout
Director: Franck Dubosc
Rolling to you is a French romantic comedy written, directed, and acted by Franck Dubosc. This is the first feature film of the French comedian and actor, and it turned out to be a great success, hailed by both critics and viewers.
Synopsis: A smooth talker and an incorrigible flirt, Jocelyn is a businessman who succeeds at everything. He falls for the charm of his mother’s neighbor and does everything to seduce her, even going so far as to pretend to be a handicapped person in a wheelchair. One day, she introduces him to her sister, herself a paraplegic.
- Love at Second Sight (2019)
French title: Mon inconnue
Director: Hugo Gélin
Love at Second Sight is a French romantic film co-written and directed by Hugo Gélin. This comedy mixes romance and fantasy. Its stars François Civil, one of the most “bankable” French actors of the moment, who won the Best Actor Award at Alpe d’Huez in 2019 for the role of Raphaël.
Synopsis: Raphael is a science fiction author who has managed to marry his childhood sweetheart, Olivia. After several years of living together, their relationship gradually deteriorates until one night, a big fight breaks out. When he wakes up, Raphael is plunged into a parallel world where he has never known the woman of his life…
List of French Romantic Movies
- Le jour se lève (1939)
French title: Le jour se lève
Director: Marcel Carné
Le jour se lève is a French drama directed by Marcel Carné. Described as poetic realism, the film features a Jean Gabin at the top of his game. It is considered one of the first great French romantic films.
Synopsis: François has just shot Valentin who was after his sweetheart, the beautiful Clara. Barricaded in his house and surrounded by the police, he remembers all the events that led to this tragedy.
- Children of Paradise (1945)
French title: Les Enfants du paradis
Réalisateur : Marcel Carné
Children of Paradise is a French romantic film directed by Marcel Carné from a script by the poet Jacques Prévert. Considered a masterpiece of poetic realism, it is one of the few French films to have been made during the occupation.
Synopsis: In 19th century Paris, a mime named Baptiste Deburau saves a young woman, who answers to the name of Garance, from a miscarriage of justice. What follows is a thwarted romance between the two lovebirds, who dare not reveal their love, while Nathalie and Frédéric interfere with their story to create a hitherto unseen love quadrio.
- The Mother and the Whore (1973)
French title: La Maman et la Putain
Director: Jean Eustache
The Mother and the Whore is a romantic French film and one of the most innovative masterpieces of 20th-century cinema. In spite of many criticisms at its release, the film has become a cult film of French cinema, depicting the atmosphere of the French capital during the last century and evoking avant-garde themes.
Synopsis: Alexandre, a young unemployed Parisian, lives off Marie, a saleswoman who is significantly older than him. During his many afternoons spent on the terrace, he approaches Veronika, a young sexually liberated nurse, with whom he will start a relationship. This is how an atypical love triangle is born, where the two women love Alexandre while being jealous of each other.
- Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
French title: Cyrano de Bergerac
Réalisateur: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Cyrano de Bergerac is a French film adapted from the play of the same name by Edmond Rostand. Although the film is an adaptation of a classic French play, it enhances the original work by adding new scenes and locations. Considered by many to be Gérard Depardieu’s best film, Cyrano de Bergerac has won countless awards, including no less than 10 Césars for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director.
Synopsis: Both poet and soldier, Cyrano de Bergerac is in love with Roxane, but his big nose makes it difficult for him to confess his feelings. He then helps Christian, Roxane’s suitor, to communicate his love to her through letters that lead them to get married. Cyrano keeps this secret even after a tragedy occurs…
- Love Me If You Dare (2003)
French title: Jeux d’enfants
Director: Yann Samuell
Love Me If You Dare is a French-Belgian romantic film starring two of the most popular French actors of the 21st century: Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard. Particularly appreciated by critics, it received 7 nominations and won 5 awards including the award for best dramatic feature at Newport Beach Film Festival in 2004.
Synopsis: Camarades de classe depuis leur plus jeune âge, Sophie et Julien ne cessent de se lancer des défis. Rapidement, ces défis les amènent à tomber amoureux l’un de l’autre. De là naît une passion grandissante au fur et à mesure qu’ils avancent dans la vie.
- A Very Long Engagement (2004)
French title: Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
A Very Long Engagement is a French-American drama film adapted from the novel of the same name by Sébastien Japrisot. Starring some of the greatest French actors of this generation (Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Marion Cotillard), A Very Long Engagement won five César awards, making it one of the greatest French romantic films of all time.
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the First World War, Mathilde, a young woman of 19, refuses to accept the death of her fiancé Manech, who left for the front two years earlier. She then embarks on an investigation to untangle the truth from the false and learn more about the fate of her man.
- Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)
French title: La Vie d’Adèle : Chapitre 1 et 2
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Blue Is The Warmest Color is a Belgian-Spanish-French romantic film written, produced, and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. A direct adaptation of the graphic novel “Blue is a Warm Color”, the film is part of the social progressivism of the 21st century by demonstrating the modernity and timelessness of love. Critically acclaimed, La Vie d’Adèle won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, revealing its two leading French actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, to the general public.
Synopsis: A 17-year-old high school student, Adele is eager for romance and dreams of meeting Prince Charming. However, her life will change when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair who will make her discover desire and love…
We hope this article has given you some new films to add to your watch list. Did we forget to mention one of your favorite French romantic movies? Don’t hesitate to tell us in the comments!
Finally, if you’re looking to add a touch of romance this Valentine’s Day after watching a French romantic movie, why not brighten up your days by listening to the best French love songs.
Translated into English by Sacha