It shouldn't come as too great a surprise that the most enduring genres
in French cinema are those with an amorous theme. Since the earliest days
of cinema, romantic comedies and romantic dramas have been the mainstay
of French cinema, and continue to occupy a preminent position in
this art form, appealing to audiences the world over.
The poetry which is inherent in other areas of French art - most notably literature -
is carried through into the cinematic medium, through the combined talents
of some of the greatest directors, writers and actors the world has known.
Where else is the traditional love film so infinitely variable, treated
with such depth and sensitivity, than in French cinema? From
musical extravaganzas, to sophisticated romantic comedies, to tragic romantic
dramas - the variety is remarkable and constantly surprising.
is just a selection of the great love films which French cinema has given
us. Préparez vos mouchoirs...
An extravaganza of burlesque comedy and the forerunner of the Hollywood film musical, Le Million
was a triumph for the era it was made in and remains an enduring popular classic of French cinema.
The Marseilles Trilogy
Marius, Fanny, César... three characters forever linked in this monumental saga of three films from one of France's greatest writers. A tale of unrequited love set in the romantic environs of the French port of Marseilles.
This simple tale of love lost and regained has acquired the status of a classic. Its enduring appeal stems from its profound humanity, some daring photography and a remarkable performance from Michel Simon.
With captivating performances from Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux and some beautiful camera work, it is not hard to see why this is widely regarded as one of the greatest love films ever made.
Une partie de campagne
Renoir's wistful adaptation of Maupassant's short story evokes the impressionist paintings of his father and, with some great camera work, captures the transience and beauty of love.
La Règle du jeu
Regarded by many as Jean Renoir's greatest work, this film combines dramatic intrigue and farce to take a brutal swipe at the ruling classes. It also manages to be a great love film.
Autant-Lara's best film is this poignant upstairs-downstairs comedy-drama, a fine blend of romance, satire and irony, with some enchanting acting performances, notably from Odette Joyeux.
History repeats itself, according to this updating of the classic Tristan and Isolda love story, written by Jean Cocteau. The melancholic cinematography and some great acting makes this a captivating and moving film.
Les Enfants du paradis
Often cited as the greatest of French films, this spectacular romantic epic, a guarded symbol of defiance against the German Occupation, is the crowning glory of the fruitful Carné-Prévert partnership.
La Belle et la bête
This masterpiece of fantasy realism, set in a surreal fairytale world has become the stuff of legends. It combines literary and visual poetry, making this one of the most distinctive and memorable of French films.
L'Aigle à deux têtes
Political intrigue and 19th century romanticism form the basis for this haunting tale of love from one of France's greatest creative talents, Jean Cocteau. Edwige Feuillère and Jean Marais form an iconic screen couple.
With the grace of a Vienese waltz, this film carries its audience through a series of dove-tailing love vignettes. With a wealth of acting talent, Ophüls conjures up one of his most entertaining and charming films.
With its realistic reconstruction of Paris of the 1900s and a legendary performance from Simone Signoret, Casque d'or
has become one of the most emblematic and memorable French films of the 1950s.
Louis Malle's lyrical tale of marital infidelity created a storm of controversy in the late 1950s for its explicit love scenes. A touching, atmospheric work, in which Jeanne Moreau is captivating.
Hiroshima mon amour
The scars of the present reflect the unspeakable tragedy of the past, at both a personal and societal level in this remarkable debut film from Alain Resnais.
A frustrated housewife witnesses a murder and places herself in the power of s stranger to relive the same drama. A lyrical depiction of female obsession, scripted by Marguerite Duras.
Jules et Jim
Truffaut's enduring masterpiece is a poignant love triangle which captures fully the director's humanity and morbid passion for life. A haunting and poetic portrayal of the folly of romantic love.
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
With the yearning music of Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy creates a fairytale world marked by ill-fate and melancholia. Arguably the best French film musical and one of the most memorable love films of all time.
Un homme et une femme
Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1966, this stylishly filmed romantic drama stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimée. The ideal St Valentine's treat. And who can forget that
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
Danielle Darrieux, Gene Kelly and the famous Dorléac sisters give their all in this ebullient musical romance set in a sugar-coated fantasy world. The ultimate feel-good movie.
For the third installment of his semi- autobiographical Antoine Doinel cycle, François Truffaut offers us this delightful portrait of young love. A tender, witty, ironic and utterly charming film.
Les Deux Anglaises et le continent
Beautifully filmed, and featuring Jean-Pierre Léaud at his best, this tale of doomed love is one of François Truffaut's most poetic and intense films.
A poignant and closely observed study of a tragically doomed romance. A young Isabelle Huppert portrays the vulnerability and despair of a naive adolescent with heart-rending believability.
L'Ami de mon amie
The final film in Rohmer's widely acclaimed Comédies et proverbes
series is this beautifully filmed and engaging comedy romance about friendship, love and infidelity.
La Fille de 15 ans
In this poignant drama, a middle-aged man (played by Doillon himself) is torn between his love for his son and his physical attraction for a teenage girl. A beautiful, poetic and insightful work.
By merging psychological thriller and comedy romance, Patrice Leconte creates one of his best films, a dark yet tender study in loneliness and desire.
Trop belle pour toi
A man dumps his beautiful wife for his plain secretary. By defying the obvious stereotypes, Bertrand Blier gives us a film with great depth and meaning, in which he is marvellously served by a stunning cast.
Le Mari de la coiffeuse
A dark but seductively compelling portrait of obsessive love between a hairdresser and her husband. Director Patrice Leconte perpetuates the tradition of poetic realism and bleak existentialism.
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf
With its melange of hard-edged realism and glittery fairytale, this depicts a poignant love story involving two homeless people. The film has some remarkable visuals and features a stunning Juliette Binoche.
Un coeur en hiver
Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Béart star in this masterfully composed, sorrowful tale of unattainable love, from Claude Sautet.
Le Parfum d'Yvonne
An exquisitely poignant and sensual portrait of ephemeral love from Patrice Leconte, the master of the erotic romantic drama.
Trois couleurs: rouge
The third installment in Kieslowski's highly rated Three Colours
cycle is surely the director's masterpiece, a captivating tale of repressed desire and impossible love, with eerie supernatural undercurrents.
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud
Sublime performances from Michel Serrault and Emmanuelle Béart makes this a compelling and infinitely subtle romantic drama.
This unusual blend of thriller and romance benefits greatly from some fine acting and some imaginative direction. A well-paced and captivating film where the audience is constantly surprised.
Marius et Jeannette
Robert Guédiguian makes something magical out of this anodyne tale of love involving ordinary people in the deprived area of Marseilles. A sunny blend of social realism and fairytale romance.
In this disturbing and ironic film, Charles Berling gives a remarkable performance as a man in mid-life crisis who becomes addicted to a meaningless sexual liaison with a younger woman.
The final film in Rohmer's "Four Seasons" cycle is both a melancholic and uplifting work, in which a middle-aged woman is subjected to the match-making tendencies of her well-meaning friends.
Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
This fairytale Parisian romance was a worldwide success, thanks to its surreal comic touches, distinctive photography and, most of all, Audrey Tautou. A magical film.