french kids cartoons

The 12 Best French Cartoons for Kids to Learn French

Are you looking for the best French Kids Cartoons for your child to build essential vocabulary skills? Look no further. Watching French kids cartoons is a great way for your child (or yourself) to get immersed in the French language and learn while having fun. Luckily, we compiled a list of the 12 best-loved and most magical French kids cartoons for you, starting with the toddler favorites and up to the ones your tweens and teenagers will love.  

1. Caillou, a classic with toddlers

Your toddler will love this cute cartoon. One of the most popular French kids cartoons, Caillou follows a little boy, Caillou (Pebble) and his sister on their daily adventures: they go to school, go on summer vacation, eat soup, learn to smile, go for a swim, etc. You can find all the episodes on YouTube and enjoy the one below.

2. T'choupi, perfect for the little ones

T’choupi is another example of classic French kids cartoons that the little ones love. Adapted from a book series of the same name, it follows T’choupi and his family and friends on all sorts of adventures that reflect every day life. The episodes are very short (about 7 minutes) so truly ideal for that little person in your life. Find the whole series here and enjoy the episode below.

3. Petit Ours Brun, one of the best-known French kids cartoons

Also with very short episodes, Petit Ours Brun (Little Brown Bear) is based on a French kids book series that was originally published in the classic French kids magazine Pomme d’Api. All the episodes are on YouTube here. Enjoy the one below where Petit Ours gets up early in the morning. 

4. Les Schtroumpfs, a French family staple

Every French family has at least one album of Les Schtroumpfs (or the Smurfs, as the English speakers call them) laying around. A big favorite, the albums as well as the animated series follow these joyful little blue creatures along their adventures, usually against Gargamel, their neighbor wizard who is always up to no good and quite intent on destroying the Schtroumpfs and their peaceful village. Discover all the episodes here. The one we link below shows how ‘schtroumpfer’ has become a verb used for every possible use…

5. Barbapapa, so 70s and still so relevant

Also based on a book – by Franco-American couple Annette Tison and Talus Taylor – Barbabapapa (“cotton candy” in French) features a family of gentle shape-shifting blobs of different colors. The parents, Barbapapa and Barbamama, corral and educate their offspring, each with a different talent: Barbibul the inventor, Barbidou the animal lover, Barbabelle the girlie girl, Barbotine the intellectual one, Barbalala the musician, Barbouille the artist, etc

Barbapapa were ahead of their times, exploring such themes as environmentalism or urban planning gone awry. Their goal is always to be helpful and happy. Full episodes are a little tricky to find online but well worth the search. The full episode of the birth of Barbapapa is on YouTube here. Below is L’arbre de Barbapapa. Episodes are available to watch on TF1 although you need to create a (free) account. 

6. Astérix, popular around the world

One of the best loved French kids cartoons, Astérix has achieved international fame. The albums are best-sellers around the world. This classic bande dessinée, full of play on words that are entertaining for adults as well as kids, follows a small but mighty Gaul warrior, Astérix and his side kick Obélix. Their village is the last one to resist to the Roman invaders, thanks to their druid’s magic potion which has the power to make them invincible. Endless adventures await! An animé adaptation is slated for 2023 on Netflix, but in the meantime you can enjoy the 60s films in their entirety on YouTube here. The seminal first one, Astérix Le Gaulois, is linked below.

7. Titeuf, best for Tweens

Titeuf is the main character of this incredibly popular French comic. With his friends (or ‘bande de copains’), he tries to make sense of the world around him and the adults’ behavior. A lot of the discussions they have revolve around the themes of seduction and love, as Titeuf is secretly in love with Nadia. Titeuf ‘s name comes from ‘petit oeuf’ or ‘small egg’, since its creator thought his head resembled one. He uses a number of expressions that are typical to him, like “tchô” and “c’est pô juste” (an altered pronunciation of ‘it’s not fair’). Any tween will relate to Titeuf and his friends as they search for meaning, This French kids cartoon is also a great way to pick up slang! On YouTube here, and enjoy the sample below. 

8. Tintin, iconic and well traveled

In this most iconic of French kids cartoons, the smart Belgian reporter Tintin and his cute dog Milou (“snowy”) travel the world as they solve mysteries and get into all manners of adventures and risky predicaments. Other well known recurrent characters include Capitaine Haddock, a quick-tempered retired sea captain who loves to swear, and Professeur Tournesol, an absent-minded scientist. The cartoon is a faithful adaptation of the book collection. Find all the episodes on YouTube here. Below, Tintin and his crew aim for the moon. 

9. Il était une fois, for the curious mind

Il était une fois…provided a wealth of scientific knowledge to French kids in the 80s and 90s – much  in the same way the Magic School Bus did in the US at the same time. Several generations learned about space, ancient civilizations or the human body through the lessons provided by Maestro, its kind, long bearded scientist host. This is a great resource for anyone learning French at any age. Find the whole series here, and learn about ‘commerce équitable’ (fair trade) in the episode below. 

10. Lucky Luke, a western à la French

Lucky Luke the lonesome cowboy assists the needy and avenges wrongs all over the Far West, in this Belgian cartoon created by Morris in 1946. With his faithful and intelligent mare Jolly Jumpers, he travels all around, regularly running into villains, either fictional or based on American history or folklore (such as Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid or Jesse James). They are sometimes recurring characters like the Dalton brothers, 5 bandits that appear in order of their size and whose irascible leader is the smallest . This most classic of French kids cartoons will entertain French learners of all ages. 

11. Spirou, the adventures of a journalist and his squirrel

I’ve heard from a lot of my students that the French word for squirrel, écureuil, is the most difficult thing to pronounce – so they will no doubt be delighted that this journalist’s squirrel side kick’s name is simply “Pip”. Much easier! His other friend’s name is Fantasio, and as they work for a newspaper, they are drawn into all kinds of adventures. One of the most popular French kids cartoons and comics, Spirou (or Spirou et Fantasio) shares many characteristics with Tintin and Astérix. Find all the episodes on YouTube here. Enjoy the ride! 

12. Les Shadoks, a 60s cult classic

This absurdist cartoon caused quite the sensation when it first aired in 1968-74. Its bird-like creatures are characterized by their stupidity and ruthlessness, and inhabit a two-dimensional planet that can change shape, which causes all sorts of problems (when you can fall off the edge, you see…). Ultimately, the Shadoks and their counterparts (on another two-dimensional planet) the Giblis would like to live on Earth, the ideal planet to them. So at some point they try to build a rocket to get there. Along the way, the cartoon is peppered with the Shadoks’ absurd mottos, which the French still use to talk about policies or attitudes they consider worthy of satire. Examples include “Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué?” (“Why do it the easy way when you can do it the hard way?”) ,  “Je pompe, donc je suis”  (“I pump therefore I am”) or “S’il n’y a pas de solution c’est qu’il n’y a pas de problème” (“If there is no solution, it is because there is no problem”). All the episodes are available on YouTube

We hope you enjoy this selection of French kids cartoons! Watching videos and films in French is one of the best way to get immersed in the language and to pick up slang, idiomatic expressions and other essential everyday elements of language. I consider it almost required homework for my students, and why not? Our philosophy at Strommen is that learning a language should be fun, no matter what age we are. For more information or to book a class, don’t hesitate to contact our office

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