ABSTRACT This study focuses on the motivation and demotivation of students of French at Australian universities. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis was performed to identify which factors motivate and demotivate 199 students who learn French at beginner level. Classical theories of motivation in second language (L2) learning are integrated with more recent theories on the ‘L2 motivational self system’ (Dörnyei, 2005; 2009a; 2020a) and positive emotions (Dewaele, 2010; 2011). Factors and categories of motivators and demotivators are structured in three levels of analysis – micro, meso and macro, drawing upon Gruba and colleagues’ (2016) model. It is argued here that motivators and demotivators belonging to different levels of analysis are closely interrelated. These concurrently influence students’ motivation as well as demotivation, but in different ways and stages. Pedagogical implications are listed to shed light on French learners’ goals and expectations at tertiary level within the Australian sociocultural environment.