French citizenship test: Do you know France well enough to gain nationality?

After Boris Johnson's election win interest in becoming French has seen a spike once again. Anyone who applies is expected by the French government to have sufficient "knowledge of France's history, culture and society". So, do you know France well enough to become French? Take our quiz.

French citizenship test: Do you know France well enough to gain nationality?
Photo: AFP
Boris Johnson's big election win in December and the likelihood that nothing can stop Brexit now has prompted many Britons in France to apply for French citizenship.
“I'm gutted! But it has made my decision easier to apply for French nationality,” was one of many similar messages sent to The Local the day after the Conservatives election triumph.
This comes after the number of Brits seeking French citizenship has seen a tenfold increase in the last three years, as The Local reported earlier this year.
On the long and often difficult path to French citizenship there are many hurdles to get through including gathering seemingly paperwork, learning French and the wait to hear the final decision. 
Another is proving that you have enough knowledge about France. And you will likely be tested on it in an interview with the French official who handles your application.
(Click here to take the quiz now or read on for some useful information)
Applicants' stories of their interviews at the prefecture vary wildly with some suggesting they were put through the mill with question after question while others described it as a walk in the park.
Much may depend on the official in front of you and whether they are having a good or bad day. 
The French government's website states the purpose of the interview is to “verify, pursuant to Article 21-24 of the Civil Code, that the applicant has in particular sufficient knowledge of French history, culture and society.”

The government defines the the level of knowledge of French history, culture and society expected “as corresponding to the fundamental elements relating to the great landmarks of the history of France, to the principles, symbols and institutions of the Republic, to the exercise of French citizenship and of France in Europe and in the world.”
But luckily, the government doesn't expect you to figure it all out on your own — for anyone applying for citizenship there is something called a Livret du Citoyen (Citizen's Handbook) available online, that the government encourages you to read up on before your interview.
This book tells you some of what you need to know but, the government stresses, not everything.
It goes into the main features of the current organization of the French Republic and the principles and values ​​attached to it.
For example the book reminds us that: 
  • The government can refuse French nationality to any applicant not seen to be living according to the value of equality between men and women. 
  • Freedom of expression is a fundamental right but there are limits. For example, in order to respect the rights of others, you can't go around broadcasting insults, slanderous remarks, inciting hatred or apologising for crimes against humanity. 
  • An employer cannot refuse to employ someone based on their origins, ethnicity or gender. All decisions regarding hiring including who gets a promotion should be based on professional reasons not personal ones.
  • A 2004 law banned pupils from wearing symbols or clothing that obviously demonstrates which religion they belong to. The idea is that schools are public institutions which shapes members of French society and as a result it should be separated from religion in accordance with the principle of “laicite” or “secularism”. For this same reason, public officials also aren't allowed to wear religious symbols at work.
Fiona Mougenot, who runs the immigration advice consultancy Expat Partners, previously told The Local that applicants might need a bit more knowledge than what is contained in the booklet and if it comes across that you are going the process just to get papers then they are going to spot it.
It also includes some important dates in French history and how the country has evolved over time. It looks at the contribution of a number of naturalized people to their adopted country, including Russian-born artist Marc Chagall and Polish-born scientist Marie Curie. 
It also gives you some geographical knowledge of France such as the longest rivers as well as details on how the country's administration works. But why not take the quiz below to find out if you know France well enough to become French.

Member comments

  1. Interesting quiz – but you really should spell the name of President Mitterrand (1981-1995) correctly. There are two R’s not one. A small, pedantic point but important none the less.

    Tony Slaughter

  2. Thank you Graham B. That dead link was frustrating! Always love someone who provides a solution rather than grumbling!

  3. Link still broken or quiz removed?
    It’s lucky I don’t want to go back to the UK, even as a Brit I failed the knowledge questionnaire!

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‘Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed’ – How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

A new in-depth survey on British nationals living in the EU has revealed the impact that Brexit has had upon their lives, and their attitudes to their country of origin.

'Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed' - How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

The study, conducted by academics at Lancaster and Birmingham universities, provides a snapshot of how Brits in the EU live – their age, family, work and education – and how they feel about the UK in the six years since the Brexit vote.

Unsurprisingly, it revealed that Brexit has had a major practical impact on the lives of Brits living in the EU – who are now subject to third-country rules and require residency cards or visas and face restrictions on voting and onward movement within the EU.

But the survey’s 1,328 respondents were also asked about their emotions towards the country of their birth.

Eighty percent of respondents said it had changed their feelings towards the UK.

A British woman living in Norway said she felt: “Deep, deep shame. Embarrassed to be British, ashamed that I didn’t try hard enough, or appreciate my EU citizenship.”

“Since Brexit I am disappointed in the UK. I am worried, and no longer feel like I have the same affinity for the country. It’s a shame because I love ‘home’ but the country feels so polarised,” added a British woman in her 30s living in Denmark.

An Austrian resident with dual British-Irish nationality said: “I feel disconnected, like it’s a completely different country from how I left it.

“So much so I feel more connected with my second nationality (Irish) despite the fact I never grew up in Ireland. It’s embarrassing what’s happened in the UK and what continues to happen. It’s like watching a house on fire from afar.”

The experience of living abroad during the pandemic also affected people’s feelings towards the UK, with 43 percent of people saying the UK’s handling of the Covid crisis affected their feelings towards the county.

A British woman in her 50s living in Spain said: “It was shambolic. Too late, too little, mixed messaging, lack of seriousness. So many deaths after what should have been a head start.”

A British man living in Greece described it simply as “a shit show”.

In addition to the Brexit effect, the survey also provided interesting and detailed data on the lives and profiles of Brits who live in the EU;

  • 69 percent had degree-level education
  • 77 percent worked in a professional or managerial role
  • 53 percent are of working age
  • 59 percent have been living in their country of residence for more than five years
  • 78 percent said it was very unlikely that they would move countries in the next five years 
  • The most common reasons for moving country were retirement (40 percent), family reasons (35 percent) and work (30 percent)

Almost all respondents said that Brexit had impacted their lives, with the loss of freedom of movement being the most common effect mentioned.

One man said: “My original plan (pre-2016) was to move to France on retirement, due in 2026. Brexit caused me to move sooner, in order to retain my European citizenship rights. The pandemic helped (indirectly) in that I got locked down in France in 2020, which enabled me to earn residence under the pre-Brexit rules. I had been talking to my employer about doing something similar before the pandemic broke.”

“I moved to France in 2020 in order to protect my right to live and work in France post-Brexit. My migration is 100 percent a result of Brexit,” said one American-British dual national.

Other respondents talked about the post-Brexit admin necessary to gain residency status in their country, financial losses due to the weakening of the pound against the euro and the loss on onward freedom of movement – meaning that Brits resident in one EU country no longer have the right to move to another.

The report also highlighted that only 60 percent of respondents had changed their legal status by security residency since Brexit.

For some Brits in the EU this is not necessary if they already have citizenship of their country of residence (or another EU country such as Ireland) but the report’s author highlighted that: “It may also offer an early indicator that within this population there are some who may find themselves without legal residence status, with consequences in the future for their right to residence, and access to healthcare, welfare and work (among other services).”

READ ALSO What to do if you have missed the Brexit deadline in France 

In total 42 percent of respondents were completely disenfranchised – the 15-year rule means they can no longer vote in the UK, while the loss of EU citizenship means that they cannot vote in European or local elections in their country of residence.

The British government has recently announced the ending of the 15-year rule, giving voting rights to all UK nationals, no matter how long they live outside the UK.