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.
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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.