French Language Blog

Learn How to Read the World News in French Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 in Vocabulary

Whether you have a daily or weekly home assignment from your cours de français to read French newspapers or watch TV news reports of France 24 and France 2, or simply wish to get une perspective plus large des événements mondiaux (a wider perspective of world events), to be able to fully understand their full content by a non-native French speaker is by no means an easy task.

But fort heureusement (very fortunately), the French Blog is –encore une fois (once again)!- here to help you out.

If you always wanted an updated guide to assist you in navigating through the world of French media, then here it is: Learn how to read and understand current events, en français s’il vous plaît !

Just like any other places in the World, the French media have in general their own ligne éditoriale (news policy), with some standing on la droite (the right) of the political mainstream, such as the TV channel TF1 or the newspaper Le Figar. Others, such as Le Monde are on the center or center-right. State-run TV channels France 2 and France 3 as well as private newspapers such as Libération and l’Humanité, tend to be on la gauche (the left.)
The way this guide is meant to work is by moving from one continent to another, and touching briefly les sujets d’actualité les plus importants de la semaine (the most important news topics of the week.)

1) Le continent américain:
The topics that relate to les États-Unis (the United States) in la presse française are very diverse: From the subject of “la crise financière(financial crisis) to the developments of la  la marée noire dans le Golfe du Mexique (The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico), to the upcoming élections de mi-manda (Midterm elections), while also mentioning the latest “succès du box-office américain”, such as the Facebook-movie hit “The Social Network“, which, according to Le Point, “écrase tout aux États-Unis” (“smashes everything in the US”)…
Well, je ne sais pas, je ne l’ai pas vu (I don’t know, I didn’t see it.)

How difficult “la lutte anti-corruption” can be in Mexico (France 24)

In the rest of the American continent, you will often read in the French media these days news reports about “la guerre des cartels de drogues” (the drug cartels war) au Mexique (Mexico), and the more than likely election of Dilma Rousseff comme présidente du Brésil (as a Lady President of Brazil.)

2) L’Europe:
Starting with la France, it’s really no surprise to discover that the main local French news coverage deals these days almost exclusively with none othan than the favorite pass-time of les Français… Oui, vous l’avez bien deviné (Yes, you’ve guessed it right), it’s les grèves interminables du travail (the endless work strikes.)

You will read about les jeunes (the youth) who -already at their age!- are concerned about their retraites (pensions), joining en masse the social movement against the reform pushed by President Sarkozy, or the strikes that still cripple the port of Marseilles, which strongly oppose its planned privatization by the current government.

Voici quelques titres (Here are a  few titles):

Le Parisien‘s “Retraites : 330 000 manifestants à Paris selon les syndicats‎” (“Pensions: 330 000 demonstrators in Paris according to the unions”)


“The Best Job in the World” is to be found these days in… the Port of Marseilles: Become a crane operator!”
An ad published in the equivalent of the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times of France, the newspaper“les Échos“, by some sarcasm-laden chefs d’entreprise (company employers) operating in the port, which bien entendu (of course) did not fail to earn them the swift wrath of their already dissatisfied seaport workers.


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  1. Peter:

    When using Firefox, I’ve found the Babelfish plugin very useful when reading news websites.
    Clicking on a word or phrase returns a tiny window with the translation (using Google or Yahoo). The window disappears when clicking on the page.