7 Great French Films for Kids Available Streaming on Netflix

(And three that aren’t)

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Movies can expose us to a different country’s language, humor and overall culture. Children’s films, in particular, highlight the contrast in various nations. French children’s films are a great way to expose youths not only to a foreign language, a different culture, but also important cinema. Be forewarned, however, that there are some very distinct differences between American and French culture. Do not be shocked to see a naked woman breast feeding an infant, nude children playing in nature, or death being dealt with directly and stoically.

Unfortunately, many of the streaming films do not have French audio as an option. However, on DVD, French audio is available for all the films listed.

And finally, s’il vous plaît, Paste readers, if you have any other French films for kids you’d like to recommend, please share in the comments section.

1. A Monster in Paris (2011)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix in English, DVD for French
Ages: 8+
The most American-style animation on this list, A Monster in Paris is set in 1910 is a comedic tale of two unlikely partners saving a misunderstood monster who has landed in Paris. Expect to see some lovely landmarks and monuments in this feature.

2. Tales of the Night (2011)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix in English, DVD for French
Ages: 8+
With similar animation and frame story to Princes and Princesses, Michel Ocelot continues to present audiences with beautiful animation and excellent storytelling.

3. The Painting (2011)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix 
Ages: 9+
The movie breaks the fourth wall, as the characters break out of their paintings and take their destiny into their own hands. The film is drawn beautifully, but also has symbolism and real-life parallels to spare.

4. The War of the Buttons (2011)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix 
Ages: 12+
Set against the backdrop of World War II, this allegorical film about French school children warring over buttons is both a historical lesson and a visual delight of the French countryside. Based off the 1912 novel of the same name by Louis Pergaud.

5. Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest (2006)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix in English, have to get DVD for original French
Ages: 7+
Inspired by North African tales, Ocelot’s mesmerizingly animated The Princes’ Quest tells the story of two Princes, Azur and Asmar, who shared a wet nurse as youths who told them tales of the Djinn-fairy. They are separated as they grow, and as adults, both separately set out to find the this magical being.

6. A Cat in Paris (2010)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix in English, have to get DVD for original French
Ages: 11+
The story of a little girl whose cat is not just a cat, but a cat burglar. The animation of this 2011 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature I engaging, though the story’s noirish nature makes it a tad bleak.

7. The Rabbi’s Cat (2011)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix 
Ages: 12 +
This is a very unique story about a cat living in Algeria. After eating a parrot, he gains the ability to talk, and after that tries to convert to Judaism so that he can be owned by a Jewish mistress. Expect some complex subjects to arise in this film. The animation is creative but relatable, and the women are very refreshingly drawn with realistic curves.

And here are are a few more films available on Netflix solely via DVD:

8. A Town Called Panic (2009)

Availability: Available on Netflix DVD
Ages: 5+
With animation akin to Robot Chicken, this bizarre and impressive movie is sure to entertain children. The stop-motion animation of classic toys follows the adventures of a town, starring a horse whose house keeps getting mysteriously broken, and his friends who try to help him figure out what is going on.

9. Princes and Princesses (2000)

Availability:   Netflix  DVD
Ages: Any
French filmmaker Michel Ocelot is featured three times on this list. He is responsible for enchanting animation and excellent storytelling. This beautiful animation frames various short, stunning tales in this incredibly drawn film. Great storytelling aside, the film is a visual delight, with the foreground being in silhouettes, and the background having beautiful details and colors.

10. The Red Balloon (1956)

Availability: Streaming on Netflix 
Ages: 7+
This highly acclaimed, award-winning film is very short and extremely sweet. At only 34 minutes long, it’s great for an introduction to classic French cinema.

Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author and language teacher who regularly contributes to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter.

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