Le Journal: An overview of French Newspapers (Part 4)

Posted on 16. Sep, 2014 by in Culture

Image by Pranav Bhatt on Flickr

Image by Pranav Bhatt on Flickr

Thank you for joining me once again as we review a selection of the most widely read french newspapers. In part 1, I presented an overview of the different sections found in a typical newspaper that will help you navigate its contents. In part 2, we learned about Le Monde and Le Figaro and in part 3, we looked at Le Nouvel Observateur and Libération. Today, let’s delve into two more journaux (newspapers) that grace the racks of most newsstands in France: L’Express and l’Humanité.


Originally printed as a supplément hebdomadaire (weekly supplement) to the economic newspaper Les Échos in 1953, L’Express morphed into the first french newsmagazine by 1964.  Columns written by Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and André Malraux among others lent prestige and a certain validity to L’Express that readers had been seeking in other news outlets of the day.

The transition from supplement to full-fledged newsmagazine in 1964 brought with it some changes. Plusieurs journalistes quittent L’Express pour fonder Le Nouvel Observateur (Several journalists leave L’Express to found Le Nouvel Observateur). As a result, the magazine becomes less politically centered which leads to a tripling of its readership over the span of just three years.

In 1995, L’Express forged a new path in the emerging world of digital news when it launched la première version électronique (the first electronic version) of a weekly french newspaper. Today, lexpress.fr is one of the most frequented french news websites avec plus de deux millions de visiteurs par mois (with more than two million visitors a month).


One of the oldest french newspapers still in circulation, l’Humanité began informing readers in 1904. Ce journal quotidien (This daily paper) was founded by Jean Jaurès, a french socialist who believed in “la communion avec le mouvement ouvrier” (“agreement with the labor movement”) and for nearly seventy-five years was guided by le Parti Communiste Français (French Communist Party). Similar to L’Express, l’Humanité became a paper for intellectuals thanks to columns written by such illustrious characters as Aristide Brian, Léon Blum, et al.

Because of its communist/socialist leanings, l’Humanité’s popularity waxed and waned over the course of several decades and with the stream of world events, namely the two World Wars and the Cold War. L’Humanité supported la libération nationale à travers le monde (national liberation throughout the world), a practice that generated considerable controversy pendant les guerres d’Algérie et d’Indochine (during the wars of Algeria and Indochina).

In 1996, l’Humanité launched its website at humanite.fr containing archives of columns from its physical newspaper dating back to 1990. Visit la Boutique on the web où vous aurez accès à une sélection d’abonnements (where you will have access to a selection of subscriptions) in both digital and paper formats.

Join me next time for our final installment in this series on french newspapers. À bientôt (See you soon)!

Le Journal: An overview of French Newspapers (Part 3)

Posted on 15. Sep, 2014 by in Culture

Image by Ol.v!er on Flickr

Image by Ol.v!er on Flickr

Bonjour une fois de plus (Hello once again). I hope you took the time to look into les journaux (the newspapers) I reviewed dans la deuxième partie (in the second part) of this series on French newspapers. Both Le Monde and Le Figaro are excellent publications featuring quality journalism. Le Nouvel Observateur and Libération are also very popular newspapers that offer a different perspective on the news. Let’s look at them in greater detail.

Le Nouvel Observateur

Founded in 1964, Le Nouvel Observateur (The New Observer) is actually a newsmagazine. The magazine saw the light over a decade earlier in 1950 as L’Observateur politique, économique et littéraire (The political, economic and literary Observer). In 1953, the name changed to simply l’Observateur and then to France Observateur in 1954.

Le Nouvel Observateur has always been un magazine hebdomadaire (a weekly magazine) avec une orientation centre-gauche (with a center-left orientation) and more than cinq cent mille lecteurs (five hundred thousand readers) making it by far the most widely read newsmagazine in France. According to Claude Perdriel, the magazine’s founder, Le Nouvel Observateurest un journal social-démocrate de gauche” (is a leftist social-democratic newspaper).

Le Nouvel Observateur focuses on the world of business, la politique (politics), and l’économie (the economy). Unlike some French papers, political and cultural issues of l’Europe (Europe), l’Afrique (Africa) and le Moyen-Orient (the Middle East) are covered in depth.

The magazine entered the digital age in 1999 with its website nouvelobs.com. You will find the usual sections such as Politique (Politics), Société (Society), and Éco (short for Economy) as well as Monde (World), Culture, Santé (Health), and Sport. You can subscribe to the digital magazine for as little as 1 € par mois (1 Euro a month) which is a fantastic deal.


Bursting onto the scene a decade after Le Nouvel Observateur, Libération began as un journal situé a l’extrême gauche (a newspaper situated on the extreme left). In the 80s and 90s, this journal quotidien (daily newspaper) shifted to a centre-gauche (center-left) orientation, a position it maintains to this day.

Interestingly, one of the founding members of Libération was Jean-Paul Sartre, un écrivain et philosophe Français (a French writer and philosopher) and a leading figure of existentialism who became active in politics après la Seconde Guerre mondiale (after the second World War).

The paper has had its share of ups and downs over the course of quatre décennies (four decades) but remains a fairly popular source of news avec un lectorat de près de deux cent mille (with a readership of nearly two hundred thousand).

The usual sections grace the homepage of Libération at liberation.fr but you will also find atypical sections such as Cannabis, Prostitution and Sex & Genre. You can even listen to LibéRadio, the newspaper’s very own radio station.

If Le Monde or Le Figaro do not offer what you seek in a French newspaper, go ahead and try out Le Nouvel Observateur or Libération for a different take on French news.

Le Journal: An overview of French Newspapers (Part 2)

Posted on 28. Aug, 2014 by in Culture

Image by MIT-Libraries on Flickr

Image by MIT-Libraries on Flickr

Welcome back to our little survey of French newspapers. In part 1, I briefly went over the different sections found in most newspapers to help you quickly locate the content you want to read. Today, we’ll be looking at two French newspapers that you are bound to find at any sidewalk café, kiosque (newsstand), gare (train station), aéroport (airport), station de métro (metro station), etc. Both of these papers are considered authoritative and have garnered a wide lectorat (readership) thanks to high quality journalism.


Le Monde

The aptly named Le Monde (The World) is one of the most widely read journaux (newspapers) in France and throughout the world. It began circulating in 1944 when Général Charles de Gaulle requested a new newspaper to replace the aging Le Temps (The Time) which had been France’s premier newspaper up to that point.

Published daily, Le Monde has over 300,000 subscribers and is available in many pays étrangers (foreign countries). The paper was brought into the digital realm in 1995 with its own website lemonde.fr.  The site is easy to navigate and covers a wide range of topics including Idées (Ideas), Planète (Planet), Vous (You), Campus (geared towards students) and more. Each section has several subsections so you never run out of reading material. Mises à jour (updates) to the websites occur every few minutes so you will always have access to the latest news.


Le Figaro

My personal favorite, Le Figaro has a more conservative penchant than Le Monde and began circulating in 1826 which makes it by far the oldest French newspaper. It began as a weekly satirical paper and is currently the second largest newspaper in France with a readership of almost 400,000.

Like Le Monde, Le Figaro has an excellent website at lefigaro.fr.  that is both informative and entertaining. Sections such as Santé (Health), Bourse (Stock Exchange), Enchères (Auctions), Étudiant (Student) and Vin (Wine) offer le lecteur (the reader) choices they might not find on similar news websites. Le Figaro even has a small assortment of magazines like Le Figaro Magazine and Madame Figaro, each of which explores subjects in greater depth than those found in the newspaper.


So go ahead and visit the websites of Le Monde and Le Figaro, read up on some of the latest news en français bien sûr (in French of course), and maybe even consider un abonnement digital (digital subscription) that you’ll be able to access on your phone, tablet and computer. You’ll enjoy both the great journalism and hone your reading comprehension skills at the same time.