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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‘We will be ready’ vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

Transport bosses have raised fears of long queues in British ports when the EU's new EES system comes into effect next year, but French border officials insist they will be ready to implement the new extra checks.

'We will be ready' vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

The EU’s new EES system comes into effect in 2023 and many people – including the boss of the Port of Dover and the former UK ambassador to France – have raised concerns that the extra checks will lead to travel chaos on the UK-France border, and see a repeat of the long queues experienced last summer.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister told The Local that he feared “tailbacks out of the port and throughout Kent” because the new system could take up to 10 minutes to process a car with four passengers, as opposed to 90 seconds currently.

EXPLAINED What the EES system means for travel to France in 2023

But French border control have insisted that they will be ready, replying to questions from the European Commission with “Oui, La France sera prête” (yes, France will be ready).

French officials said they had already undertaken extension preparation and would begin test runs of the new system in French border posts at the end of this year.

document shared recently by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties, shows how countries are preparing. 

“France has prepared very actively and will be on schedule for an EES implementation in compliance with the EU regulation,” French authorities say.

“The French authorities have carried out numerous studies and analyses, in cooperation with infrastructure managers, to map passenger flows at each border crossing post… and evaluate the EES impact on waiting times,” the document says. 

However, despite the preparation, the French admit that long waits at the border remain a worry, adding: “the prospect of the impact of EES on waiting times at the borders worries infrastructure managers. The fact remains that fluidity remains a concern, and that exchanges are continuing with each border post manager to make progress on this point.”

The EES system is due to come into effect in May 2023 and will be applied at all EU external borders – find full details on how it works HERE.

However there has been particular concern about the France-UK border due to three things; the high volume of traffic (in total over 60 million passengers cross the border each year); the fact that many travel by car on ferries and the Eurotunnel (while the EES system seems more designed with foot passengers in mind); and the Le Touquet agreement which means that French border control agents work in the British ports of Dover and Folkestone and at London St Pancras station.

EES is essentially a more thorough passport checking process with passengers required to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans – border checks will therefore take longer per passenger, and this could have a big effect at busy crossing points like Dover.

The UK’s former ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, told The Local: “I think the EES, in particular, will be massively disruptive at the Channel ports.”

The EU consultation documents also revealed more details of how EES will work on a practical level for car passengers – those travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel to France – with border agents set to use computer tablets to gather biometric information like fingerprints so that passengers don’t have to get out of their cars.

READ ALSO France to use iPads to check biometric data of passengers from UK

Doug Bannister added that Dover agents were “awaiting an invitation” to France to see how the new systems will work.