Back in the 90s I spoke French fluently (with an Idaho accent). French is still my preferred language for profanity during heated basketball games, but it’s tough to hold on to vocabulary and fluid speech without many francophones around and with visits to France few and far between. Here are a few things that have helped.
I’ve tried Duolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone, and others. They might be good for learning the basics of the language, but none of them were very engaging to me for improving beyond that. Enter Frantastique. They have the weirdest, most entertaining French lessons du monde. Daily sessions involve aliens who decided to thaw cryogenically-frozen Victor Hugo (after considering Michael Jackson and others) who then has various adventures with old friends, including Quasimodo (who needs help applying for a job). The animation is weird, the voices are weird, and the weirdness really helps the lessons stick. They also feature famous French movies and songs each day.
TuneIn is great for accessing pretty much every radio station in the world. My favorite is FranceInfo, which is similar to NPR – lots of talk and few commercials.
You can see the top podcasts for several countries at iTunesCharts.com. I tried several before I settled on my favorite: Sixième science. Topics are interesting (why does time seem to pass more rapidly as we age? – are plants intelligent?) and episodes are short and filled with little clips from movies and songs.
- Henri Dès – songs for kids, like Alouette. My favorite is a song about eating too much chocolate and getting cavities and stomachaches.
- Les Innocents – big in the 90s. Try L’Autre Finistère.
- Maître Gims – one of the most-played artists in 2018. Has a great duet with Sting.
- Zaz – great voice. Try her cover of Champs-Elysées.
- Georges Brassens – big in the 50s and 60s with tunes that are still catchy today. Pomplamoose has a great cover of Je Me Suis Fais Tout Petit.
- Francis Cabrel – big in the 70s and 80s. My favorite is his album of Bob Dylan songs in French. Here’s Je Te Veux (I Want You).
- Yves Duteil – big in the 70s and 80s. Great ballads and ditties on the guitar. Try J’ai la guitar qui me démange.
Le Monde is the biggest. I prefer Le Figaro.
I haven’t really found anything I come back to regularly, but check out Top Channels in France. Français Authentique is good for slowly-pronounced discussions of topics like La Bise.
Have you seen Les Choristes? So good.
Le Petit Nicolas is my favorite easy read. It’s at a child’s level with great drawings and jokes only the parents get. You can also try a French translation of a book you know well in English – I’m currently reading Je Suis Une Légende (I Am Legend). Sometimes I get more ambitious with French classics like Les Misérables and L’Étranger, but those sometimes take more mental effort than I can spare.
I’ve had mixed success here. LibriVox has a bunch of free French audiobooks, but it can be tough to find a good narrator since they’re all volunteers. My library has a few French audiobooks, including Le Petit Prince. If you have an Audible subscription, they have a large collection of French audiobooks.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a few apps with French content, including The Gospel Library and The Book of Mormon (a standalone app which I prefer because I can leave it in French every time I open it instead of switching back and forth). There’s also a French website – https://www.eglisedejesuschrist.fr
The YouVersion Bible app is excellent and has French content as well. There are some really good audio versions in English and it looks like some French ones, too.