I've you ever taken a foreign language class, you will know the boredom of the stock phrases and basic grammatical exercises that you generally start with. Sure they are useful to hammer home key grammatical points - les lunettes qu'elle a vues or the pommes que j'ai mangées or les chats que j'ai frottés will get you to remember eventually how to do the COD or COI or whatever the name of the acronym is for suffering French 2 students learning the past tense and getting used to gender accordance. But unless if you really like books like "See Spot run," such artificial and plain fare gets boring pretty quickly.
The best way to learn a language, and the way you picked up your own native tongue, is through exposure to it - and the vectors of exposure are reading, and above all else listening. One of the most common things we listen to these days is Youtube, and so you might be tempted when you reach a good enough level in the foreign language you are learning, like French, to go there and to try out your comprehension. It's a good idea, but where do you start at? Knowing what channels to go to is hard (and doubly hard in foreign languages with different alphabets where inputting the script on a computer tends to be a real chore at first until you have mastered typing it, but let's not go there), and it probably took time for you to accumulate a list of channels and content creators that you like in your own native tongue.
This is a list of 10 excellent French Youtube channels which focus on politics and foreign affairs (mostly the latter since I'm more interested in that, although the two are linked of course), to help you out with starting on it. Some of them have subtitles on all of their videos, others have subtitles on some, others never do, so some of them might have to wait until you have a high enough level. But I hope this can help provide a boost into the world of authentic, native, French speakers and their material.
10 - Geozone
Subtitles: Only automatically generated
Geozone is more of a geography focused channel, but it turns out the occasional politics focused subject. And the geography videos are often themed on foreign countries, such as the Russian Novaya Zemlya, or different maps describing China, and plenty of videos about individual countries. They vary in length, and are essentially him talking over the video.
- La Geozone - YouTube
Salut !Bienvenue dans la Geozone !T'aimes la Géographie ? Découvrir vraiment des pays dont personne ne parle ? Tu trouves les vidéos sur la Suisse, la Finlan...
9 - Investigations et Enquetes
Subtitles: Extremely rarely
Investigations and Enquetes is a bit scattered in their coverage, but turn up some fascinating jewels from time to time. Most are domestic, but there are some interesting ones such as about the collapse of Afghanistan, or foreign investment in France.
- Investigations et Enquêtes - YouTube
Bienvenue sur la première chaîne Française de documentaires et de reportages. Les meilleures enquêtes et investigations : Zone Interdite, Envoyé Spécial, En...
8 - Ina Politique
Subtitles: Only automatic
What about the history of politics and foreign relations? INA is a great resource for seeing things over the course of time: it has videos about this day in history, covering what was the news on the day throughout time. It gives a good sense for what were the famous moments in French political life, such as presidential debates or comebacks, and the old videos about international events are superb - the old style narrators are such a difference from today!
- INA Politique - YouTube
INA POLITIQUE, les grands moments de la politique française et internationale en vidéo !Sur INA POLITIQUE, regardez les débats, les petites phrases, les inte...
7 - Imineo documentaires
Subtitles: Almost never, only automatically generated
Perhaps it is cheating a beat to describe Imineo documentaires as a foreign affairs and politics channel, since its videos cover such a wide variety of subjects. But there are some great documentaries which it puts out on foreign countries like North Korea or South Africa, the Tunisian revolution, French chefs in Russia, etc. that I felt that it simply must be mentioned. Just dig through a bit and one will find some incredible documentaries on any subject!
- imineo Documentaires - YouTube
Ici nous aimons les bons documentaires
6 - Le Monde
In a lot of ways, Le Monde's video presence on Youtube rather reminds me of say, Vox: there aren't that many videos, but it tends to put out interesting ones on subjects that you wouldn't have considered otherwise. Not necessarily purely foreign policy ones of course: the last videos published by Le Monde for example, were the Taliban's role in the drug trade, the efficiency of remote work, and how many Europeans have been conceived in Ikea beds - but many of them, like the first video, are about foreign policy and politics. Defined by high quality of content, unusual subjects, and at least regularity even if there isn't high volume, Le Monde is a great learning resource.
- Le Monde - YouTube
Bienvenue sur la chaîne YouTube du Monde. Chaque semaine, des vidéos pour comprendre l'actualité et le monde qui nous entoure. Sciences, écologie, conflits, ...
5 - Mister Geopolitix
Subtitles: Reasonably often in French, less often available in other languages as well
Mister Geopolitix is a popular French channel, which covers a range of subjects about world politics and relations. Some of his best work revolves around different jobs and specialties that relate to the topic, such as the Legion etrangere, or the work of an international humanitarian worker, or crime syndicates, or jihadism. Many of his videos are rather short, around 3-4 minutes long, but there are others which vary to be longer. As a rule they are just him talking.
- Mister Geopolitix - YouTube
Une chaine pour découvrir et mieux comprendre le monde → Mister Geopolitix
4 - Geopolitis
Subtitles: Only automatically generated
Geopolitis' isn't French, but rather Swiss, but is very interesting in any case. It is rather hetero-orthodox; often taking a rather pronounced third way stance and going against conventional Western foreign policy norms, but this just makes it more interesting. Each episode is typically around 30 minutes long, and tend to consist of interviews between the host and various personages, as well as general overviews of the situation they are covering - with themes like Japanese remilitarization, Lebanon's governmental collapse, populism, Taiwan's future, etc. High quality and informative, and easy to understand, even without subtitles.
- Géopolitis - YouTube
Géopolitis est une émission de la RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse et TV5 Monde.Chaque semaine, la rédaction de Géopolitis décode les affaires du monde, en s'en...
3 - Terra Bellum
Subtitles: Very rarely, displayed in English
Have you ever wanted to watch a, let's say, alternative French foreign affairs channel? Terra Bellum, like Geopolitis, takes a rather strongly independent view to international affairs and sometimes is something of a flag raiser about France, such as one of their most popular videos which discusses if you could consider France as the world's greatest power. Also rather notably right-wing. But Terra Bellum has some excellent videos about subjects such as international relations of various countries, giving a French perspective on the world, various developments of international military power, etc. - which makes him comparable to say, the Caspian Report on the Anglophone side.
- Terra Bellum - YouTube
Terra Bellum is an independent channel whose objective is to reconnect with a realistic vision of the study of geopolitics from a French point of view.Our te...
2 - 7j sur Terre
Subtitles: Only automatically generated
7j sur Terre is an independent Canadian geopolitics and foreign affairs Youtube channel. It's an amusing experience, listening to Québécois French with its amusing twangs and "eh" sounds, but it's still completely understandable and puts out good quality content - with some great videos on subjects such as Haiti and the American role in the continuing collapse of the country over the previous several decades. Most of the videos are around 15 minutes long and consist of the host talking.
- 7 jours sur Terre - YouTube
Le rendez-vous francophone pour les passionnés de géopolitique, de science et d'histoire.
1 - Arte Le dessous des Cartes
Subtitles: French on every video
The best French foreign affairs youtube channel comes, perhaps unsurprisingly given Arte's high quality, from Arte's sub-channel "Le dessous des Carte." This puts out two weekly videos about either particular events or problems, such as the construction of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam threatening relations with Egypt and Sudan, or long term, structural elements such as a particular country's foreign policy, or a host of other things, generally around 10 minutes long. These are almost always very well done, graphically pleasing, easily comprehensible, and objective. Added to this the presence of subtitles and it makes for a great channel for anyone just entering the world of French international affairs!
- Le Dessous des Cartes - ARTE - YouTube
Le Dessous des cartes décrypte les enjeux de notre monde contemporain au moyen de cartes géographiques. Créé par Jean-Christophe Victor, le magazine est prés...