Is French TV really that bad?

Well no, some of it is quite good actually.

France 2 last evening showed the annual 'Le Village préféré des Français' introduced by the excellent Stéphane Bern. basically viewers write in with their choice of the nicest French village they have visited over the past twelve months. As usual the field was narrowed down to about twenty villages far and wide.

I love these kind of travelogue type programmes as it gives me an insight into what it's like in the four corners of this country. Last night the winning village was Ploumanc'h in northeast Brittany not far from one of last years finalists Locranan. Other winners have been.

2012 - Saint Cirq Lapopie near Cahors

2013 - Eguisheim in Alsace

2014 - Cordes sur Ciel near Albi

As far as i'm aware no village has appeared twice so it's always interesting to see which candidates will emerge for the next edition.

Other French TV programmes which remain 'must sees' for me include Thalassa and Des Ailes et des Racines.

Just been watching Crimes et Botanique on 'Replay' (originally aired last evening). Basically it is a French adaptation of the UKs Rosemary and Thyme with Pam Ferris and the yummy Felicity Kendall. The French version has been faithful to the original in most aspects with the same kind of casting plus the Land Rover type works van.

A similarly gently rolling entertainment with somegreat locations,the sort of thing the French producers are good at. If you have it why not flaunt it I suppose.


I thought I was an old person & there were 3 channels when I was little!

Mind you I own a television only for watching the 6 nations & the world cup so I'm not qualified to say anything about television in general.

The choice is vast but to try to be objective it looks very much like the quality does not match that. Sorting the wheat from chaff is increasingly difficult. With future generation TV using the same frequencies as mobile phones the range will be infinitely expandable and then we can watch anything. Personally, I don't see me plumping for, say, Japanese TV or...

Yes, too many people are couch potatoes. My TV viewing time is less than an hour a week spread over the seven days, usually one burst of several hours. However, I know very few people like the two of us here, even the girls do not watch every day at that without us exerting influence either way. Mind you, the fact that some people seem to live with eyes affixed to a screen even walking along the road with a smart phone in hand, what can we say?

I think we've gone from the sublime to the ridiculous Brian. I, like most on SFN recall the days of just the BBC then ATV or whatever it was called coming on the scene and the arrival of BBC2 was heralded as the great thing to have and well, as for Channel Four !

Now it's saturated, more than saturated. The diversity of programmes is fantastic but at what cost ? Do we really want or need 200+ channels ? I've only one pair of eyes after all !

We risk getting to the point of self-destruction with all this choice surely ? Any form of media must deliver three things, entertainment, information and instruction so just how much can the human brain take in ?

I suppose it's for us to sort the wheat from the chaff and choose our viewing menu accordingly but aren't we in serious danger of just watching for watchings' sake ? Are we, at the end of the day, just a lazy bunch of couch potatoes ?

It is a tricky one. Most TV is basically awful. It is mass entertainment but French, UK or whatever the case, special or secondary channels provide fantastic programmes. We have children, they dominate TV viewing. When it comes to TV for them then the English language offer and diversity is by far the best, in fact whilst we encourage our bilingual daughters to watch French and occasional Italian or German channels, the UK choice tends to win over hands down.

Peter's question is a good one, but answering it is one of those things where it can come out subjective in some people's minds or patronising in others. In the past people have said how watching French TV only helps learn the language. True. However that does not excluded keeping in touch with one's first language, especially since it may be the more relaxing part of TV use. Each country also has strengths. Now, for instance, I like good crime series. I find that much of Europe is now 'infected' with CSI, Mentalist type series, repeats galore at that, and domestically made ones are on the decline. So I watch German ones, der Alte and Tatort have always been good and around for years. Nowhere has any to quite compete. I must say I shrivel up when my OH watches Italian TV, I tend not to hang around too long.

However, I think French TV has excellent programmes, Arte is great, put that in a pick and mix with other services and why not use two languages? Andrew has a good point about getting English language TV for his young to get some language support, so let us not only think in terms of adult viewing which I suspect most people are. Anyway, people might want to follow their Corrie or whatever, so why not? There are no hard and fast rules.

As for Peter's point about sport, it is actually good. UK TV is generally far more diverse than any other for sport and I also find that when watching international football and rugby, for example, commentaries are far less biassed toward the home nation in particular. I must say how annoyed I have been by French commentators all but accusing a UK team of cheating after a brilliant try in a couple of matches, bad enough but to then go into a discourse about how if would have turned out if... I watched an Italy versus France game that began with the commentator reeling off all the faults the Italians had brought with them then saying how they were no-hopers against France a couple of seasons back. That deeply annoyed me. They are not perfect but UK presenters, including Scots, are less inclined to do that.

So, if we have a choice and a preference why not. However, living on an 'island' of only English language TV, newspapers and all is so often a self-defeating exercise I would always advise against. However, it is choice so live and let live is the bottom line.

Problem for me is that I love anything sporty so the Sky Sports channels are compulsive viewing for me. Canal + is ok but rather pricey for what it is I think.

Yeah M-A that's good too. I like Stéphane Bern in those kind of things. He was being interviewed last week on France 2 and he was talking about the Battle of Waterloo, what the war was about and the consequences which followed for France and Europe. He is an interesting chap who obviously enjoys all things historical. He also appears on an entertainment programme and I really dont enjoy it. I think he should stick to what he's good at !

ARTE has some great stuff, they do some good documentairies.

Peter, I watch the same programs and also Secret d'histoire with Stephane Bern.

My husband watches old movies in English when VO is available, I also like watching Arte.

I can pick up UK TV via the Internet using Filmon, iPlayer etc but I think I realised that I didn’t need it when last year I searched through the listings for the entire Christmas period and there was nothing that caught my eye. I do buy the odd TV series as a box set and it’s amazing how many UK series are broadcast on French TV.

Have a look on this site

John has been going a long time and knows his stuff. His site explains pretty well the systems.

I'm with you on this one, John, I haven't seen any english tv for the last 10 years or so apart from the odd visit to the UK. BUT I'm considering getting it for my kids who understand a little English but don't talk any. How do people here go about getting UK TV, do you have to have a dish and all that, pay a subscription...?

extremes - you get used to them! 2009 we saw 39° in the summer and -15° 4 months later!!! Albi hit 41° that year so be prepared for some scorchers down here, and some freezers -22° in 2005/6! What we don't get are the épisode cévenole, they're the other side of the hills and what cause all the chaos (although normally confined to autumn).

Haven't tried Portugal either but it does look more and more interesting as a winter destination...

It's the language thing John I suppose. I have a SKY dish and enjoy both systems. I have an Orange decoder included in my telephone package and I find that good value.

I think that's one of the things that makes me hesitate to live too far 'south'. The weather can be extreme at times. Flash floods, draught, very high or low temperatures etc etc Normally in the Limousin you get what you pay for at least !

Some of the Envoyé Spécial s are very good and I enjoy some of the quizzes. There are some good French 'who dunnits' and drama series too.

Never tried Portugal though I know French OAPs who now do like mant Brrits and spend the winter south of the border.

French TV is all I have and it does me fine. I always wonder why it’s so quickly dismissed by so many people who to choose to live in France.

Vaison la Romaine always makes me think about the terrible flash floods in '92 kiling 37 people. Never been there, on my list of places to see but missed the start of the programme last night.

The Vaucluse has two distinct parts - the west is full-on mainstream France and the east is very quiet and remote (depending where your centres of interest are). Envoyé spécial tonight is about all the French who retire to Portugal (yes, yet another one encouraging people to flee!) for the weather and 10 year tax break so perhaps I'll start learning portugese...!

Looks lovely.Vaison La Romaine looks fantastic. I'm a few kms from Cassinomagus (Chassenon) in the east Charente which is an ensemble of Roman baths & thermes, all interesting stuff !

I wouldn't want to live down there, sounds expensive as you sayand a bit too remote from the rest of France for me.

they're on the mont ventoux as I type, climbed it twice in a weekend on my bike, great climb, very moving stopping to pay respects at tom simpson's memorial. It's a lovely part of France but a bit too expensive for us, plus I met my OH here (in the aveyron) and she's rather enracinée so I think I'm here for good...!

It does rain rather a lot up there I must admit. I had five years in Calvados and had a dodgy chest throughout what with the dampness etc.

Was impressed with Lavaur so it's between there and Albi and Gaillac. Still trying to flog my house in Haute Vienne and i'm not holding my breath ! The market is slow up here, especially in the larger property. My mate sold eventually but not before dropping his price by 75K !!!

Never been to the Luberon so it will be new territory for me.