Is there anything quite like an audiobook to change holiday traffic from meh to magic? Enjoy your travels this season and improve your French listening skills en route ! Radio Canada offers a selection of free, downloadable audiobooks you can listen to wherever you go. Novels, memoirs, mysteries, children’s books - it’s all free on Ici Première. Read on for some listening inspiration with our top picks from this online resource.


Paul dans le Nord

Michel Rabagliati, read by Pier-Luc Funk as Paul
Summer 1976. The Montreal Summer Olympics are about to begin. Paul is sixteen and wants one thing and one thing only: a Kawasaki KE100 motorcycle to escape his everyday life and his intrusive parents. Along with Ti-Marc, a new friend met at trade school, Paul will change schools, hitchhike, fall in love, get dumped, and drink beer for the first time. Check out the graphic novel from our library and read along!

Pieds nus dans l’aube

Félix Leclerc, read by Théodore Pellerin
This classic coming-of-age story is inspired by the author’s own childhood in turn-of-the-century La Tuque. The 12-year-old protagonist learns about life, love, and struggle, all in a Québec where the French-Canadian community are treated as second-class citizens. A celebration of the universal humanity connecting us all.


Nicolas Dickner, read by the author
Nikolski tells the story of three strangers who, in 1989, leave their homelands for Montreal. As they make their way in a new city, the strange symmetry of their journeys brings them together in unexpected ways. An ironic fable about immigration, family, and the nomadic life.

Du bon usage des étoiles

Dominique Fortier, read by Bruno Marcil and Catherine Trudeau
In May 1845, Sir John Franklin departs to conquer the Northwest Passage, stocked with enough provisions to survive three years in the harsh Arctic. But when his two boats become imprisoned in the ice, another journey into the polar night and the depths of the human soul begins. In his journal, Commander Crozier documents the voyage and his yearning for beautiful Sophia, left behind to the mundanity of everyday life in London. Inspired by Franklin’s last expedition, Fortier depicts the whims and caprices of Victorian society in a kaleidoscopic novel that mixes journal entries, history, adventure, science and a plum-pudding recipe.

L’avaleur de sable

Stéphane Bourguignon, read by Normand Daneau
Mourning his most recent ex, Julien swears to never again fall in the dating trap. But at 26 years old, resisting temptation is harder than he thought it would be. Stéphane Bourguignon presents a funny, lucid vision of love and relationships between men and women.

Tout ce qu’on ne te dira pas, Mongo

Dany Laferrière, read by Marcel Sabourin, Michel Mpambara, Maryse Beauchamp, and the author
On a summer afternoon, the author has a chance meeting with Mongo, a young man who has just landed in Montreal. He’s forcefully reminded of another young man who arrived in the same city in 1976, and of his younger self’s confusion and determination. So when Mongo asks what he can do to make a place for himself in this new society, the two go to a café, where Laferrière begins to tell his life story. This is a long love letter to Québec, by a member of the Académie française.


Andrée M. Michaud, read by Pascale Montpetit
Summer ‘67. The sun shines on Boundary Pond, a lake near the border renamed “Bondrée” by Pierre Landry, a French-Canadian hunter forgotten by society. Children run on the beach, Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan hula-hoop on the sand, and the air smells of barbecues. Perfect happiness reigns - until Landry’s traps are unearthed, and Zaza disappears....


SOS, c’est l’hiver !

Genevieve Mativat, read by Mehdi Bousaidan
Having recently emigrated from their native Algeria, Mouloudh and his parents are braving their first Quebecois winter! They have never seen snow before and are shocked by just how much there is outside to play in. Invited by Aude and her dog, Mouloudh wraps himself in layers to brave the cold and learn to love his new home.

Une histoire de cancer qui finit bien

India Desjardins, read by Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse A finalist for the Prix du livre jeunesse des Bibliothèques de Montréal in 2018, this story is based on a conversation India Desjardins had with a young cancer patient who asked her for “a story about cancer that ends well, with love at the end” that could give her hope.
The book follows a 15-year-old-patient through her treatments, appointments with her doctor, and the long walks in the hospital corridors to discover her final diagnosis. But all will be well. That’s a promise.
Check out the bande dessinée from the children’s library to follow along as you listen!

Jane, le renard et moi

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, read by Emilie Bibeau
Hélène is being bullied at school. For refuge, she turns to the world of Jane Eyre and the words written by Charlotte Brontë. This touching story shows both the cruelty with which children can treat one another and the healing power of literature.

Amos Daragon : Porteur de masques

Bryan Perro, read by the author
Despite himself, brilliant 12-year-old Amos Daragon becomes the first of a new generation elected to be a wearer of masks. Thanks to his elemental powers and helped by Béorf Bromanson (who can transform into a bear), Amos encounters strange countries populated by legendary creatures in his search of the masks of power.


Etienne Poirier, read by Samian
On an island hidden in the heart of the boreal forest, young Siméon made a promise to his father: to go to boarding school, but to return the same as he was. Their sealed pact will be put to the test by life, circumstance, and distance. Now that Siméon is a grandfather, he must search his memories to respond as best he can do his granddaughter’s question: “Why am I named Niska?” A novel of family love and uprooting, Niska plunges us into the reality of the Canadian boarding schools for Indigenous children in the 1950s. Will Siméon be able to keep his promise?


Petit cours d'autodéfense intellectuelle

Normand Baillargeon, read by Christian Vézina and the author
An introduction to critical thinking skills and an essential tool for anyone who wants a strong “intellectual self-defense.” Starting with an overview of the fundamental tools for any critical thinker (logic, rhetoric, probability, statistics), we then learn to apply these tools to justify or disprove common beliefs in science, media, and our personal lives.

L’univers expliqué à mes petits-enfants

Hubert Reeves, read by Raphaëlle Reeves-Ribière and the author
Hubert Reeves dedicated this book to his grandchildren. In writing, he wondered: what should he tell them about the Universe, which they would continue to inhabit long after he left it? On clear summer nights, he and his grandchildren would watch the night sky for shooting stars, them asking questions and him trying to answer. This book, a mix of science and poetry, grew from his desire to learn more about the mysterious cosmos and our place among the stars. You can also check this book out at the library to read as you listen.

Did you know? This resource is part of a much larger list of online libraries curated by your librarians. If you’re interested in discovering more audio materials en français, check out our other posts on podcasts and classic French love songs!

Elizabeth Taft

Library Assistant

Elizabeth has a B.A. in French from Wellesley College and is studying Library and Information Science at Simmons University. During a year in Aix-en-Provence she hiked Mont Sainte-Victoire, volunteered at a short film festival, and attended France's largest book fair. Her work at the French Library combines her love of language and libraries.

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