Few movies industries in the world can match the quality and breadth of France’s cinema over the past 120 or so years. From the sleight of hand of Georges Méliès and the innovations of Lumière brothers to present-day tyros like Julia Ducournau and Ladj Ly, French film is an ever-evolving organism, restless for new stories and new ways to tell them. There’s a reason it’s the birthplace of the New Wave and the home of such geniuses as Jean Renoir, Agnès Varda and François Truffaut.
That makes assembling the crème de la crème of great French films a tricky task. But whether you’re a poetic realist nut who speaks fluent Nouvelle Vague or just a devotee of ‘Amélie’, you’ll find plenty to tickle your Francophile fancy in this countdown of the best French films released between 1902 and 2022.
The French, particularly Parisians, are big into cinema, so if you’ve got longer than a weekend in the City of Light, grab a drink at one of the city's cinema bars, before getting comfy at an indie cinema. And if you want to do some real-life location scouting during your trip, check out the 50 best films shot in Paris.
Written by Tom Huddleston, Geoff Andrew, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Trevor Johnston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Paris