Escape to France (and solve a mystery)! 6 Cozy French Mysteries I Have Enjoyed

Feb 13, 2021

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Combine beautiful French backdrops either in Paris, Aix, Lyon, or any one of the major urban French hubs, or slip away to the French countryside – chateau valley aka as the Loire Valley, Provence, Normandy, Brittany, or even the Riviera with many more locales to tempt your love of exploration; pair with perfectly imperfect leading women and men, hand them a mystery to apply their astute, uncommon sleuthing skills and voilà! The French cozy mystery.

Last spring I shared a list of 16+ British Cosy Mysteries I recommend (the list continues to grow and be sure to check the comments section as readers recommended many more), and I quickly learned how much TSLL readers enjoy their cosy mysteries. Knowing many readers are also Francophiles, I have since been exploring the MHz Choice streaming platform (available through Amazon Prime as well as on its own) and finding many French series which satiate the need for resolution that only a simple cozy mystery seems to provide – all is well with the world! The mystery is solved in 50 or 90 minutes! – as well as provide an opportunity to be exposed to the French language.

Having recommended a few individually over the years – most recently as a Petit Plaisir of episode #298 (see here – Blood of the Vine), I wanted to compile a list which undoubtedly will grow as I continue to explore so you would be able to easily access whenever you want to explore a new series.

Recently, with winter upon us, I have found myself exploring French series more frequently, as it has provided an escape, but one with a touch of learning and feeding the yearning for returning to France whenever it becomes safe to do so.

Today’s list includes only series which I have viewed and enjoyed. Each of the series are unique in their own way, so I have shared their individual components and what to expect in a bulleted list below each one. For example, if you are looking for a light-hearted cozy mystery series, I wouldn’t recommend Paris Murders as it is a dramatic, dark at times and not comedic or humorous in any way. And if you are looking for something serious, you may not want to watch Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games. Let’s get to the list, shared in no particular ranking order. 🙂

1.For Francophiles who are also Anglophiles and want a little retro escape to France paired with humor

Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games

  • Set in the mid-1950s, France
  • 4 seasons
  • 90 minute episodes
  • Series began in 2013 and ran through 2018
  • Three main leads –
    • the debonair and single chief inspector Swan Laurence
    • the young, feisty reporter – Alice Avril
    • the inspector’s sartorially chic and kind, yet naive secretary – Marlène Leroi
  • Each episode is an adaptation of an Agatha Christie murder – either solved originally by Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot
  • Witty, humorous, a bundle of fun and creatively adapted even for those most ardent Christie fans
  • Available through MHz Choice (stream through Amazon Prime or directly from MHz)

2. For wine lovers and modern mystery capers

Blood of the Vine
(Le sang de la vigne)

  • Series began in 2011 and ran through 2017
  • Pierre Arditi stars as Benjamin Lebel, a wine expert and part-time sleuth
  • Based in Bordeaux, each episode takes you to a new actual French vineyard in the countryside of France
  • Lebel’s regular co-stars – his two assistants – Mathilde and Silvère (I adore both of them immensely and Mathilde’s style even inspired this post); as well as his long-time girlfriend France (equally wonderful)
  • 5 seasons, 90 minutes in length
  • Available through MHz Choice (stream through Amazon Prime or directly from MHz)

3. For the Midsomer Murders fan

Magellan

  • Series began in 2012 and ran through 2020 (or 2018? not confident about the end date or if it might continue)
  • Three seasons
  • Each episode is 90 minutes in length
  • Inspector Simon Magellan plays a divorced father, raising two daughters.
    • A close and playful relationship between father and children. He is dedicated to them and they to him, all the while being, well, a young pre-teen and a mature teenager. With each episode, the father-daughter relationship becomes more enjoyable to watch and offers an element not seen in many series.
  • Jacques Spiesser stars as Simon Magellan
  • Set in a fictional mid-size French town, each episode will take you to a different part of the community – an estate, a horse ranch, a golf course, etc. – very similar to Midsomer Murders in this regard.
  • A big thank you to TSLL reader Marina for recommended this series to me 🙂
  • Available through MHz Choice (stream through Amazon Prime or directly from MHz)

4. For lovers of Law & Order

The Paris Murders

  • Two seasons
  • 50 minute episodes
  • Made available in 2020
  • Set in Paris (as the title would indicate)
  • Inspired by the popular French series Profilage (2009- ) in which profiler Chloe Saint-Laurent is the lead, now in The Paris Murders, Saint-Laurent partners up with a cranky, yet likable, single-father, dedicated to his work, Detective Rocher.
  • Dark and gritty, yet fascinating with lead characters’ storylines running multiple episodes regarding their personal lives.
  • Available via PBS Passport and PBS Masterpiece subscription on Amazon Prime

5. For those who enjoyed Last Tango in Halifax + a dramatic murder added to the plot

Murder In . . .

  • Six seasons, beginning in 2015 and running through 2019
  • 90 minute episodes
  • Set in a different French country town each episode, and with different lead sleuths each episode.
  • Similar to Midsomer Murders without the regular cast.
  • Available through MHz Choice (stream through Amazon Prime or directly from MHz).

6. For art lovers

L’Art du Crime
(The Art of Crime)

  • Set throughout France – Paris, Amboise, and many other locales where art has a direct tie.
  • Two seasons, beginning in 2017 and running through 2018 (I do hope a new season is released)
  • The two leads include a police captain – Verlay and an art expert, Florence. Each with their own Achilles’ heel, they work together well to solve high art crimes.
  • Available through MHz Choice (stream through Amazon Prime or directly from MHz).
  • Listen to why I selected it as a Petit Plaisir for episode #269

Now, I will be getting back to exploring even more series and will be sure to add to this list as I find ones I love and I think you might as well. 🙂 Have a look below at my favorite French films if your French predilection is in need of more to explore.

12 French (or set in France) films I Love, episode #248

And for Anglophiles . . .

The Art of the British Cosy Mystery: 16 Cosy British Mysteries to Enjoy



11 thoughts on “Escape to France (and solve a mystery)! 6 Cozy French Mysteries I Have Enjoyed

  1. Thank you for this list. I definitely plan to check out Magellan and The Paris Murders – the Agatha Christie show sounds fun too!

    1. Happy to share! Yes, the Agatha Christie Criminal Games is an absolutely fun view. The series gets even better as you go along in the seasons as all three lead actors remain in the cast. Magellan’s daughters change in the second season out of the blue with no explanation, but it doesn’t change the quality of the story-telling. Still a wonderful series to watch. I do hope you enjoy!

  2. Thank you for the list Shannon! Have you tried Spiral (Engrenage en français)? Either Prime or Netflix! 8 series, last one out now and so good!
    Cheers Regine

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