French Christmas Quiz 2012 – the Answers

Mistletoe - abundant in our area
Mistletoe – abundant in our area

Now, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for throughout the Christmas holidays. Well, I can dream, can’t I? Here are the answers to this year’s Life on La Lune Christmas Quiz. I hope you enjoyed doing it. I have previously posted about many of the topics on this blog and provide the link to the relevant post(s) below.

Award yourself one point for every correct answer. Note that question 3 comprises two questions. Maximum points: 21.

  1. In which French town could you take refuge from the predicted end of the world on 21st December 2012?

a)      Vichy
b)      Bugarach
c)       Lourdes
d)      Caylus

Answer: b) Bugarach (Aude), a small place of some 200 inhabitants in the Pyrénées. Through some oversight, the end of the world did not take place as planned.

2. Who said, « Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai qui tu es ». (Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are)?

a)      Elizabeth David
b)      Raymond Blanc
c)       Brillat-Savarin
d)      King Henri IV

Answer: c) Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. A lawyer and politician, he became famous for his essays on gastronomy and its social and cultural significance. His ‘La Physiologie du Goût’ (The Physiology of Taste), 1825, became a classic and has never been out of print. A cheese is named after him.  

3. Which French king was the first husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine?

a)      Louis XIV
b)      François I
c)       Louis VII
d)      Charlemagne

Answer: c) Louis VII. Among other things, he and Eleanor went on the Second Crusade together to the Holy Land, which was a disaster.  

And, for an extra point, who was her second husband? (Tip: he was none of the above).

Answer: Henry II of England, who thereby acquired a large swathe of west and southwest France. Eleanor bore Henry eight children in addition to the two she had with Louis VII and outlived them all, except for King John of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile. Henry II locked Eleanor up for 15 years for conspiring with their son Henry against him.

4. Which southwest French city was awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 2010?

a)      Toulouse
b)      Bordeaux
c)       Montauban
d)      Albi

Answer: d) Albi, whose cathedral is reputed to be the largest red brick building in the world.

5. Who headed the short-lived Corsican republic, 1755-1769?

a)      Pascal Paoli
b)      Napoleon Bonaparte
c)       King Theodore
d)      Tino Rossi

Answer: a) Pascal Paoli, who was in exile for many years in London after the French took over Corsica from the Genoese and defeated the Corsican ‘rebels’.

6. A picture question. What is this protuberance from a building about three metres up?

Strange protuberance
Strange protuberance

a)      A lavatory
b)      A chestnut store
c)       A hidey hole
d)      A bread oven

Answer: d) a bread oven. This one is on a building in the centre of Najac, Aveyron.

7. What is phylloxera?

a)      A virulent form of flu
b)      A microscopic bug that feeds on vine roots
c)       A bacterium that gives Roquefort cheese its green veins
d)      A type of butterfly

Answer: b) a microscopic bug that feeds on vine roots. It was imported attached to American vine stock and quickly cut a swathe through French vineyards. Ironically, the French wine industry was saved by grafting French vines onto root stock originating in America.

8. What is piquette?

a)      A card game
b)      A weak vin ordinaire
c)       A fit of bad temper
d)      A nickname for a French president’s mistress

Answer: b) a weak vin ordinaire. It’s not generally considered complimentary to refer to your host’s/hostess’s wine as piquette.

9. Another picture question. Which famous character is associated with this bridge?

Fortified bridge
Fortified bridge

a)      D’Artagnan
b)      Cardinal Richelieu
c)       The devil
d)      Quasimodo

Answer: c) the devil, with whom the architect made a pact in order to get it finished and then reneged on the deal. This is le pont Valentré in Cahors (Lot).

10. Which French entertainer recently moved to Belgium to avoid French taxation?

a)      Jean Dujardin
b)      Johnny Hallyday
c)       Daniel Auteuil
d)      Gérard Dépardieu

Answer: d) Gérard Dépardieu, who did not require a prosthetic nose in order to play Cyrano de Bergerac (no – only joking; don’t want to be sued or anything).

11. How many crocus flowers does it take to produce 1 kilogram of saffron?

a)      200
b)      2,000
c)       20,000
d)      200,000

Answer: d) 200,000. Each flower produces 3 stigmas, which are then dried and conditioned to make the product. It’s all done by hand, hence the high price of saffron.

12. What is aligot?

a)      Pureed potato with cheese
b)      Stewed goat
c)       Stuffed cabbage
d)      Tripe

Answer: a) pureed potato with garlic and cheese, traditionally tome fraîche, which is a young Cantal or Laguiole. In Aveyron, it is traditionally eaten with sausages or veal. You need a good appetite.

13. On the roots of which tree would you normally find tuber melanosporum growing?

a)      Beech
b)      Ash
c)       Oak
d)      Black poplar

Answer: c) the oak. The fungus in question is the black truffle, which formerly grew in much larger quantities in the Quercy region than it does today.

14. Which is the largest département (surface area) in France métropolitaine (i.e. mainland France and Corsica)?

a)      Aveyron
b)      Dordogne
c)       Gironde
d)      Landes

Answer: c) Gironde, which has a surface area of approx. 10,000 km2, followed by Landes and Dordogne. All three are in the Aquitaine Region.

15. Which is the least densely-populated département (inhabitants/km2) in France métropolitaine?

a)      Aveyron
b)      Creuse
c)       Cantal
d)      Lozère

Answer: d) Lozère, in the Cevennes, with 15 inhabitants/km2.  Creuse has 22, Cantal 26 and Aveyron 31. A number of other rural departments, e.g. Gers and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, are also very sparsely-populated

16. How many places are designated “l’un des plus beaux villages de France” (one of the most beautiful villages in France)?

a)      64
b)      157
c)       279
d)      832

Answer: b) 157. The first was Collonges-la-Rouge in Corrèze, noted for its red-stone architecture.

17. Which of the following famous people were born in France?

a)      Emile Zola
b)      Georges Simenon
c)       Jacques Brel
d)      Yves Montand

Answer: a) Writer Emile Zola. His parents were Italian émigrés and he was born in Paris. Simenon and Brel were born in their native Belgium and Montand in Italy.

18. Who wrote the novella Carmen, which was the inspiration for Bizet’s opera of the same name?

a)      Honoré de Balzac
b)      Victor Hugo
c)       Prosper Mérimée
d)      Stendhal

Answer: c) Prosper Mérimée, who also wrote Colomba, set in Corsica, but his main occupation was inspector of historic monuments. In that role he recorded and saved a number of important monuments for posterity. 

19. In what year were French women allowed to exercise a profession/occupation without their husband’s authorisation?

a)      1918
b)      1945
c)       1965
d)      1968

Answer: c) 1965. They could also open their own bank account.

20. What are you doing if you “faire le chabrot”?

a)      Dancing a traditional folk dance
b)      Executing a tricky boules shot
c)       Making bootleg liquor
d)      Adding wine to the dregs of your soup

Answer: d) Adding wine to the dregs of your soup, which you then drink directly from the soup plate by lifting it to your mouth, thus dispensing with a spoon.

How did you get on?

16-21 points: félicitations.

10-15 points: bien.

6-10 points: pas mauvais.

0-5 points: execrable.

Copyright © 2012 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Wow, I was amazed by the answer to question 11!! I had forgotten the answers were being added, so am glad to have found them. And perhaps if we ever meet, we could faire le chabrot then share the soup together!!


    • If you ever find yourself in SW France I’ll be delighted to faire le chabrot with you – I’ve never done it, but there’s always a first time!


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