Audiobooks in French
One of the most iconic languages in the world is Français, or French as we call it in English. While often referred to as “the language of love,” French being a Romance language actually doesn’t have anything to do with romance—but rather, with its origins in Latin. Related Romance languages to French include Spanish and Italian!
French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with over 76 million native French speakers and over 321 million speakers at a first or second language level. There are a wide variety of dialects and creoles in the Francophone world. Thus, learning French even at a basic level can help you communicate with people almost anywhere you go.
However, learning a new language isn’t as easy when you’re a beginner. If you don’t start learning early as a kid, you might be surprised how much effort is required when learning a new language. Some people study a second language like French at schools and universities, while others self-study with resources from the library and consuming media like listening to French podcasts. Either way, both of these groups turn to audio for study help. After all, listening to a language is one of the most important ways to learn!
There are many ways to listen to French without having to talk with another person such as through audiobooks. In essence, audiobooks are just audio files of narrators reading aloud what you’d instead be reading with a physical copy of a book. Some come as CDs, while others are streamable audio available on numerous online platforms. Regardless of which method you pick, you can count on audiobooks upping your chances of overcoming French in no time.
As such, allow us to introduce you to some of the best French literature in audio format, which will both improve your comprehension of the language as well as entertain you.
Audiobooks for learning the French language
The idea of audiobooks isn’t only appealing to people who would simply rather listen to books instead of read them. Instead, this way of consuming written words provides many benefits to listeners. Two benefits include improving your reading accuracy and improving your reading speed, all while learning new words.
Of course, there are even more benefits of listening to audiobooks in a foreign language. You don’t need scientific studies to understand that listening to a professional narrator can improve your French pronunciation. Nevertheless, one thing that studies do tell us is that audiobooks improve material comprehension, which is essential when you’re learning a new language with different grammar and expressions than your native language.
When it comes to French literature and its audiobooks, it’s key to mention how France has the most Nobel Prize winners for literature in the world. As such, French literature is viewed as the pinnacle of European writing, and the French people are very proud of this. There are so many classics that come to us from Francophone authors, which we’ll dive into in just a bit.
Before we list some French audiobooks for you, we should first mention where you can find them. Namely, the obvious places would be Amazon’s Audible.com or LibriVox. Besides having a myriad of books in various languages, they offer some French short stories bestsellers, study books, bestsellers, and even graphic novels.
Nevertheless, you can also find free French audiobooks online, as many of them are public domain. They can help you improve your French listening skills, and you can create separate playlists, depending on their content or level. For example, Française histoirie (French history), intermediate level, and so on. Text to speech (TTS) tools like Speechify can also help you turn any French books you may have into audiobooks if they don’t already have an audiobook version. (More on text to speech and Speechify after our literature review!)
Audiobooks set in France
As mentioned, France has an impeccable literary tradition. However, we can’t list all of the great works from French writers. We can instead offer four critical novels of what we consider to be essential for anyone in the process of French learning—from beginners to intermediate learners and even native French speakers!
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
You don’t need to be a bookworm to know about Victor Hugo’s seminal work, Les Misérables. This great novel has been beloved by readers worldwide since its publishing in 1812. Today, you may know of Les Mis (as it’s often called for short) from it’s 1980 stage musical adaptation—which then received a popular popular musical film adaptation in 2012 with a stellar cast including Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. There have also been many other film and TV adaptations throughout the decades.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the original material, Les Misérables is a great insight into what life was like in the decades immediately following the French Revolution. The book is set in early 19th-century Paris, with its main character, Jean Valjean, going to prison for stealing a loaf of bread in order to feed his family. After years in prison, Jean is released and turns his life around, becoming a successful industrialist. However, due to a former crime, the antagonist inspector Javert is always on his tail.
A large cast of characters drives the story forward as each character’s tragic stories become intertwined to tell a very moving story with eternal themes of love and sacrifice that people of all generations can relate to.
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince (or The Little Prince in English) is another beloved French story. This is one of those special books that has something to offer both for children as well as adults, with its many layered ideas presented in a fantastical way.
Saint-Exupéry’s classic tale tells a story about a small prince who travels across the universe and discovers the true nature of humans. On his journey, he encounters feelings of love, sadness, and loneliness, all while experiencing different friendships.
Even if you’ve previously read the story in English, this shouldn’t stop you from listening to the French unabridged version of Le Petit Prince. Not only are there many French words and tenses that you can better pick up on by already knowing the story, but you can also gain a deeper appreciation for the themes of the novel by listening to it in the original French.
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
In a day and age when travel vlogs are popular social media, you might feel fatigued by such travel content. However, you absolutely shouldn’t skip the exciting tale Jules Verne writes in his classic thriller adventure, Le tour de monde en quatre-vingts joures—or Around the World in Eighty Days.
The story revolves around the adventures of Phileas Fogg who wagers a bet with other members of his gentlemen’s club that he can travel around the world in—you’ve guessed it—eighty days. But that’s not what’s so great about this title. What’s truly compelling about this story are the encounters Phileas has while traveling by both land and sea across the globe.
The story takes inspiration from Verne’s own travels and is filled up with creative writing and memorable characters. Its French audio version is available all over the internet, so it won’t be hard for you to get a copy and listen to it while you travel or while you relax at home and imagine your own travel adventures.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The fourth title we’d like to recommend for listening to is The Count of Monte Cristo. Over the years, Alexandre Dumas’ classic has seen numerous film adaptations. Yet, none of them capture the same magic of the source material.
This is a tale of revenge through and through. The main plot revolves around Dantes, who escapes an island prison with the help of a friend he makes inside. Once he escapes, he changes his identity into the Count of Monte Cristo as a plan to exact his revenge on the people who set him up.
Once again, this is a classic novel. As such, its themes and tropes have been retold numerous times across different books and media. However, none of that takes away from Dumas’ incredible writing, which will help you with French language learning as well as bring you great entertainment.
Best tools for French audiobook listening
When it comes to the best way to enjoy French audiobooks, there are many tools and websites out there. One such tool is Audible, which has a vast library of titles. Unfortunately, Audible and all other online audiobook catalogs don’t have every book that you’ll need to start understanding and speaking French at a higher level. This is why it’s key to turn to audiobook alternatives—and the best one is Speechify.
Speechify is a text to speech app that can transcribe any writing into an audiobook. With its high-end technology, you can turn any digital or physical book into audio material by either importing a text file, using it on websites with a browser extension, or even taking a picture of a piece of text thanks to Speechify’s OCR (optical character recognition) feature. In an instant, you can hear French text spoken out loud to you in a very natural-sounding voice that can also be customized for reading speed as well as choosing a male or female voice.
The Speechify app is available on all platforms. As such, you can enjoy this TTS tool on both iOS and Android smartphones or on your macOS or Windows computer. All you need to do is try Speechify, and you can start learning French tous les jours!
Where can I find audiobooks in French?
Audible is the number one place on the internet to enjoy French audiobooks. It has a vast collection of French literature, narrated by professionals with perfect diction. You can also use Speechify to turn any French book into an audiobook.
How do you say audiobook in French?
Livre audio is how to say audiobook in French.
Can you learn French with audiobooks?
Of course! You can learn French as well as any other language with the help of audiobooks, as it’s one of the best and most convenient ways to do so. Listening to a language spoken out loud by a native speaker or a natural-sounding TTS program will improve your listening comprehension, and you can also read along with French audiobooks to improve your reading comprehension.
Is Audible available in France?
Yes, Audible is available in France. It’s also possible to use it in other Francophone countries like Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland.
What are the benefits of listening to the French language?
Listening to French allows you to learn French more easily, as well as understand the proper pronunciation.
What is the difference between a cassette, CD, and MP3?
Cassettes are plastic units that conceal audio or videotapes.
CD is short for Compact Disc, and it is a carrier of digital audio, video, and other files.
MP3 is a digital audio format that you can store on a CD or computer.
What are some popular audiobooks in French?
Au revoir les enfants by Louis Malle
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Les filles by Lori Lansens
Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling
What are the benefits of listening to audiobooks in French?
Listening to audiobooks in French helps improve reading and listening comprehension skills, and you can also gain a deeper understanding of French culture and history through French novels.
What are the benefits of audiobooks?
Audiobooks improve people’s language skills, speed, and overall comprehension of written material. They are also great for people with learning difficulties like dyslexia.