Review: A French Village (Un village français), season 1

The main cast of A French Village

The long running series A French Village (Un village français) has 7 seasons. This French series is about a fictional village near the French border with Switzerland and what happened there during the German occupation from 1940 to 1945.

I’ve only had time to watch season 1 so far, but this dramatic and heart-wrenching true story is instantly bingeable. When the German military take over a village and grind everyone under their guns, the villagers have to adapt immediately.

Daniel Larcher (Robin Renucci) is the village doctor and takes the leadership role of mayor. His wife Hortense (Audrey Fleurot) is quick to adopt an orphaned newborn. These two do as much good for the people around them as they can, but they are not so clear on their moral duty when the father of the infant shows up.

Raymond Schwartz (Thierry Godard) is probably the wealthiest man in town. He runs a lumber mill and is quick to make a profitable deal with the Germans. He’s cheating on his wife (Emmanuelle Bach) with a local farmer’s wife named Marie (Nade Dieu). But he goes out of his way to help people.

These two main characters could represent good and evil in the village, but the characters are more nuanced than that. Characters are finely drawn as they resist, adapt, or collaborate in order to survive.

Robin Renucci, Audrey Fleurot and Nicolas Gob in A French Village
Dr. Larcher, Hortense, and Jean Marchetti

Jean Marchetti (Nicolas Gob) is a young police inspector. He and Chief Inspector De Kervern (Patrick Descamps) make up a police department with almost no authority after the Germans arrive. Marchetti takes up residence at Dr. Larcher’s house.

Lucienne (Marie Kremer) is a local teacher. She took a class on a field trip on the day the Germans attacked, with disastrous results. The father of one of her students, Marcel (Fabrizio Rongione), is a Communist agitator. Marcel and Daniel Larcher are brothers.

There are many children in the story who do a fine acting job, particularly Gustave (Maxim Driesen), Marcel’s son.

There isn’t much humor in this war story, but a name that struck me funny is name of the Larcher’s adopted orphan son. The mother spoke Spanish and said, “Te quiero,” to her newborn before she died. Dr. Larcher, who only spoke French, thought the child’s name was Tequiero. So they called him that. Every time someone said it, I had to grin.

There are more characters with individual storylines among the villagers. There are themes of antisemitism, loyalty, political action, and courage as the first season progresses.

We see who will take a risk to help others (such as an English pilot who drops in their midst). We see who will turn on others to save themselves over something as trivial as booing in a movie. Twists and turns as the months roll by reveal characters willing to carry intelligence reports, or work in the black market, or have love affairs with unsuitable partners.

The situation is cauldron of danger and emotion. A French Village (Un village français) does a wonderful job of turning that into compelling drama. The series was created by Frédéric Krivine with help from historical consultant Jean-Pierre Azéma. Everything about the series looks authentic and historically correct.

History buffs will enjoy this series, and it provides many human stories of love and endurance.

It’s interesting to compare this French production about life under the Nazis with the German production Charité. Neither are shy about pointing out the political dangers of the authoritarian regime the Nazis ran.

The entire series is available on Prime Video and Hulu. It may be available on some PBS stations. It’s in French with subtitles. The German is not subtitled, leaving us in the dark as much as the villagers when the Germans speak. Some of the German officers speak French, however.

Pin the Poster

the poster for A French Village (Un village français)

A Teaser

I couldn’t find a good trailer for season 1, but here’s a teaser showing you some of the characters and scenes you can expect.

Have you seen any of A French Village (Un village français)? I’m ready to watch all 7 seasons. Have you done that?

15 thoughts on “Review: A French Village (Un village français), season 1”

  1. Pingback: Recommended Foreign Language Films and TV Series - Old Ain't Dead

  2. christopher a swaby

    its available in some cities on broadcast tv as well as cable (i’ve watched the show both in Seattle and DC). its definitely engrossing – ordinary people who are not resistance fighters nor collaborators.

  3. I just finished watching it today :'( I watched season 1-7 in about 3 weeks or so? I picked up the movie at the library not thinking much of it even though I really enjoy watching Holocaust fiction movies (I like drama and sometimes I need to have a good cry). Was I pleasantly surprised! I even picked up some French words like shut up, my god, what’s going on, what happened, how are you, and of course, I don’t know. I am probably going to subscribe to some French streaming movie service because I also watched another series (Disappearance I think it was called) and I liked it too. Any other French drama series suggestions?

      1. You are awesome! Thank you! Much appreciated 🙂 Let’s see if I can pick up some more French hahaha.

  4. gisele albrecht

    I just finished watching the entire 1-7 series of “A French Village”, in a couple of weeks. Some days I watched for 18 hours!! I had a wrist blood pressure monitor beside me, that I used to be sure my blood pressure was not to high, while watching this…….glad to report, my blood pressure was fine. However, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, while trying not to bite off my finger nails!!
    I also needed to take a small dose of xanax, on three occasions, to settle down……..LOL!!
    Not for the faint of heart. I watched this on prime time / MHz. It did go by at a speed of lighting at times, and I had to occasionally stop or pause the viewing in order for my brain to relax. Reading the sub-titles was exhausting. I will now go back and view the series, again, but instead of reading the sub-titles, I will try to view the actual scenes. i.e. the clothes, the jewelry, the furniture, etc in each series. What incredible actors and acting! What a wonderful (but sad) way to learn history. I loved this!

  5. OUI OUI! This series has been my great escape during this Covid lockdown and has completely taken over my life! The acting is sublime. However, I still find it difficult to watch many heart wrenching scenes and just cannot wrap my head how many innocent people suffered and died because of one evil man. It is a testament to the human spirit as the Resistance engages in their plays and Suzanne wants to think about a honeymoon. These are the things that keep us human and make life worth living in some cases. I cannot get enough of Gustave’s face! He is adorable!
    Thank you for this series.

  6. I am watching this series now; the acting and storyline are quite incredible and the characters so compelling. But very hard to watch sometimes, actually *most* of it is hard to watch. I had a love/hate relationship with the series in the beginning, not sure I could continue into season 2 and then completely hooked by season 3. I would have loved better synopses of each episode (to read after viewing) because things happened so fast and the history is so complex that I’m sure I missed a lot. But I don’t think I have the stomach to watch the whole series again. I loved the historical “shorts” that came at the end of the first two seasons, where people who had lived through these years (often as children or teens) recollected their experiences. I’m halfway through season 6 and am obsessed with it. But I can only watch 2 episodes at a sitting.

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