Generally it can be done but it probably should only be considered as a last resort if an all-region player is unavailable.
Briefly, most DVDs are coded to play in specific regions. The format used in the US, US territories, and Canada is Region 1. The format used in Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa is region 2. Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong) use Region 3. Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and Caribbean use Region 4. Former Soviet Union, Indian Subcontinent, and Africa use Region 5. China uses Region 6.
The DVD drive in you PC or laptop has the ability to make a pre-set number of region changes - usually 4 or 5. If you live in the US, the DVD drive was probably pre-set to play Region 1 DVDs so switching to play a DVD from France will eat up one of your format changes.
Most PCs and laptops will not automatically make the change when a differently-coded DVD is played. Instead when a DVD fails to play, you will need to go into the properties of your DVD drive and change the region manually to the country from where the disc originated.
To change the region of the DVD drive in your PC or laptop and to see the number of region switches that remain follow these directions:
Right-click on the drive. Select properties, Hardware, highlight the DVD drive you want to check, click properties at the bottom, click on the region tab.
If you bought your computer used, you will want to check this. If there are no switches left and the last region used was something other than Region 1, you may have to replace the DVD drive in order to play US-produced DVDs.
An internet search will yield a variety of advice on how to hack the region settings though this is risky and could do irreparable harm to your computer so its not advisable.