SHARE
COPY LINK

CULTURE

Philosophy, household chores and cheese – what might you be asked in the French citizenship interview?

Applying to become French requires a lot of paperwork and proof that you meet the requirements - but when all that is done comes the feared interview which involves a (very) wide range of questions.

Philosophy, household chores and cheese - what might you be asked in the French citizenship interview?
Dressing up for the interview is not recommended. Photo: AFP

People with strong ties to France or long-term residents may decide, at some point, to apply for French citizenship and become French – but this process is not for the faint-hearted.

For a start it's quite a lengthy process – 18 months to two years is average – and of course involves a lot of paperwork plus a fairly high level of French.

But once you've got through all that comes the interview, where you need to prove your knowledge – and love and appreciation – of France and all things French.

And some of the questions applicants are asked to prove this can be a little unexpected – when we asked readers of The Local about their experiences, some candidates were asked quite philosophical or literary questions, others to justify how French their daily life was while still other interviews involved doing impressions of French presidents (really).

There are various routes to French citizenship – the most common are through family, through marriage or through residency, in which case you must have lived in France for a minimum of five years.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

The procedure is slightly different depending on which route you are applying through and the toughest questions tend to be for people applying via the residency route, who need to show that they are thoroughly integrated into French life and values – rather than just wanting a shorter passport queue at the airport. 

Structure

The basic purpose of the interview is to ascertain that candidates have a knowledge of France's history, culture and society and that they support the values of the French Republic.

It's a one-on-one interview at your local préfecture conducted, obviously, in French.

There is a book – the Livret du Citoyen (Citizen's Handbook) that applicants are advised to read which tells you all about the history, geography and political structure of France and most people are asked some fairly straightforward questions on this – name the French national anthem, name two French overseas territories, describe a significant event in French history etc.

 

READ ALSO What I can tell you about the nerve-wracking French citizenship interview

Variety

The one theme that emerges from tales of citizenship interviews is that they vary a lot depending on the area or even the mood of the interviewer – some people report a couple of cursory questions followed by a handshake, others were grilled for more than an hour on everything French.

The other thing is that a lot of interviewers seem to like to chat, plenty of people have tales of being asked about their own countries or families, just because the interviewer was interested.

A lot of people are quite nervous before the interview, so if the interviewer is making what sounds like inconsequential chat they are probably just trying to put you at ease and it may not be a trick question.

QUIZ: Do you know France well enough to become French?

 

One interviewer apparently even entertained their candidate with a series of impressions of French public figures – guessing who they were was not part of the test.

 

READ ALSO Ten reasons to become French

 

 

Philosophy

In addition to the more prosaic questions about French history, some people are asked questions that would not be out of place in a philosophy tutorial, including 'Can one truly know a country without speaking the language' or 'would you say you have a French lifestyle?'.

 

Comedian Ian Moore was asked whether one could know a country through its literature, although – as he recounts here – he misheard and spoke at length about whether one can know a country through its barbecue food. He is now French.

Values 

But you don't just need to know about French values – you need to support them if you want to become French.

This doesn't mean having to agree with every government decision (after all, what is more French than complaining about the government?) but you will be expected to support the broad values of the Republic including laïcité (secularism) and equality between men and women.

 

Quite a few people report being asked about laïcité, probably because it's a concept that foreigners often struggle with, but others were asked questions designed to show if they supported egalité including a couple asked if they shared domestic chores equally and a woman asked if she would accept having a male gynaecologist.

And it's not a French value as such, but food is an important part of French culture, with one woman being asked to name as many French cheeses as she could. There's no requirement to eat them, though, so vegans will not be refused citizenship (unlike in Switzerland).

And finally, although many people diligently learn La Marseillaise, there are no reports of anyone being asked to sing it, which is a shame because it's a cracking song. 

  

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

PROPERTY

New French State aid to help older people make home improvements

A new accessibility scheme recently announced by the French government gives grants for home improvements such as installing a stair lift or widening a doorframe to allow wheelchair access - here is how you could benefit.

New French State aid to help older people make home improvements

According to a recent survey in France, the vast majority of retired people expressed a desire to stay in their homes long-term, rather than entering a care facility.

While there are several schemes by the French government to provide assistance for renovating homes in order to make them more accessible for elderly people, the newly announced “MaPrimeAdapt” seeks to streamline the process.

When was it announced?

MaPrimeAdapt was part of President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election campaign, with plans for it first announced by the president last November.

Most recently, the government aid was earmarked to receive funding in the upcoming 2023 budget, which also hopes to increase the number of nursing home employees, as well as boost public funding for care centres.

The budget is set to allocate €35 million to the National Housing Agency (ANAH) in 2023. In response, the ministry of housing said to Capital France that one of their top priorities is “a single aid for the adaptation of housing to ageing” that would replace several existing government subsidies.

What is the goal of Ma Prime Adapt?

Similar to Ma Prime Renov, this programme hopes to provide additional funding for home refurbishment.

But while Ma Prime Renov focuses on environmentally friendly home adaptations, Ma Prime Adapt aims to make it simpler for older people or those with disabilities to refurbish their homes in order to maintain their autonomy and avoid falls.  

The French government also aims to reduce the number of fatal or disabling falls of people aged 65 by at least 20 percent by 2024, and by 2032, the goal is for at least 680,000 homes to be adapted, particularly those of low-income older people.

Who can benefit?

According to reporting by Le Monde, this aid is not solely reserved for people who already have decreased mobility. 

Instead, it is intended for older people generally. When applying, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they are an independent retiree and need (this could be based on income, age, health, etc) to adapt their housing in order to make it more accessible.

The amount of assistance offered will be means-tested based on financial status.

What types of work would qualify?

Some examples of work that might qualify for assistance might be:

  • adapting the bathroom (for example, adding grab bars or enlarging the door)
  • replacing the bathtub with a shower
  • installing a bathtub with a door
  • installing a stair lift
  • adding access ramps to the home

The benefit is not limited to those options – any project that aims to increase home accessibility for a senior could qualify, as long as it is not simply aesthetic-focused.

Can it be combined with Ma Prime Renov?

They have different criteria, but Ma Prime Renov and Ma Prime Adapt can be combined in order to provide maximum support to elderly people wishing to adapt and stay in their homes.

How can I apply?

In order to apply, you will be required to meet the conditions stated above, in addition to being able to demonstrate that the housing in question is at least 15 years old and that the amount of work being done would cost at least €1,500.

Keep in mind that the renovation will need to be carried out by a recognised building company or contractor – specifically one with the label “RGE.”

You will be able  toapply for the Ma Prime Adapt aid via France’s National Housing Agency (ANAH). A dedicated website will be created to facilitate the process, with a launch date TBC. 

On the site, you will submit an application form that includes the estimates of the work planned. According to Le Monde, €5,600 will be the maximum amount of aid to be offered, and the cost of work will be capped at €8,000. However, this information has not yet been published by the National Housing Agency. 

What have the other available schemes been?

Currently, retirees in France can apply for the “Habiter facile” scheme from the ANAH (Agence Nationale de l’Habitat), which also helps to finance work that promotes the ability of elderly people to remain in their homes.

“Bien vieillir chez soi” is a similar aid scheme which is offered by the CNAV (social security).

The elderly and disabled can also benefit from tax credits on accessibility or home adaptation work. 

These will likely be replaced by Ma Prime Adapt, which will combine all benefits into one package.

SHOW COMMENTS