Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2014: the Answers

The SF and I overwhelmed by snow - but not yet this year
The SF and I overwhelmed by snow – but not yet this year

I hope you had a lovely, peaceful and rewarding Christmas. How did you get on with the quiz? If you resorted to the internet you can deduct 10 points immediately. Here are the answers, with my notes about each one.

  1. Which French queen is reputed to have started a new fashion by stuffing a bunch of flowers in her cleavage on being surprised in a state of undress with her lover?

a) Catherine de’ Medici

b) Marguerite de Valois

c) Marie Antoinette

The answer is b) Marguerite de Valois, aka la Reine Margot, married to Henri IV for a while. Reputed to have had loose morals. See my post about le château de Saint-Projet.

  1. What could you buy in ancient Egypt for 7 kg of garlic?

a) A timeshare in a tomb

b) A slave

c) A pot of life-enhancing unguent

The correct answer is b) a slave. See my post about garlic cultivation

  1. Which famous Paris hotel did author Ernest Hemingway “liberate” from the Germans in 1944?

a) The Crillon

b) The George V

c) The Ritz

When Hemingway got to c) the Ritz on 25th August 1944, the Germans had already left. This didn’t stop him claiming that he had liberated it. 

  1. Which illness was Saint Roch reputed to be able to cure?

a) Smallpox

b) The plague

c) The sweating sickness

Saint Roch was able to cure b) the plague, although by all accounts he died of it himself. There’s a chapel in his name at Puycelsi, erected by the locals in thanks for his intercession. 

  1. Photo question. What are these?

Shoe accessories

a) Cow shoes

b) The heels of a boot

c) Horseshoes

In times past, cows and particularly oxen, were shod. But they had cloven hooves, unlike horses, so each side of the hoof had to have a separate shoe. We have found several of these buried on our property. 

  1. Which town was the birthplace of Egyptian hieroglyphics decipherer Jean-François Champollion?

a) Souillac

b) Aurillac

c) Figeac

The answer is c) Figeac. There is now a Musée Champollion there, which specialises in the history of the written word. See my post about Figeac

  1. How many regions does mainland France (including Corsica) currently have?

a) 18

b) 20

c) 22 

The correct answer is c) 22. 

For an extra point each, name three of them. Here’s the list:

Lower Normandy
Pays de la Loire
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Upper Normandy
Corsica (which has special territorial collectivity status)

  1. And how many will it have under plans to rationalise the regions?

a) 10

b) 13

c) 16

Under the new system, metropolitan France will have b) 13 regions from 2016. The largest will be the combination of the present Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes regions.

  1. What is the fine in France for pedestrians who cross the road without using a crossing that is within 50 metres?

a) 4 euros

b) 25 euros

c) 100 euros

For the moment, it is a) 4 euros. See my post about pedestrians in France.

  1. Which European country has an enclave of around 13 square kilometres in southern France, entirely surrounded by French territory?

a) Italy

b) Spain

c) Switzerland

And, for an extra point, what is the name of the enclave?

The answer is b) Spain, whose enclave Llívia remains part of Spanish territory. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees ceded the comarques of Roussillon, Conflent, Capcir, Vallespir, and northern Cerdanya (“Cerdagne”) to the French crown. Llívia did not become part of the French kingdom as the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to France, and Llívia was considered a city…because of its status as the ancient capital of Cerdanya.

  1. Which film was shot in the town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in 2013?

a) My Old Lady

b) The Hundred Foot Journey

c) Charlotte Gray

The Hundred Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, was shot in 2013, so b) is correct. c) Charlotte Gray was shot in the same town in 2001.

  1. What does the designation “village étoilé” mean?

a) It works to reduce light pollution

b) It is an important tourist site

c) It has a restaurant with at least one Michelin star

Villages with this designation are working to reduce light pollution, so a) is the correct answer. See my post about light pollution in France.

  1. Which building, opened or re-opened in Paris in 2014, has been variously described as resembling sailing boats, icebergs and clouds?

a) The Picasso Museum

b) Le Carreau du Temple marketplace

c) The Louis Vuitton Foundation

The answer is c) the Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed by Canadian/American architect Frank Gehry. It is one of the most ambitious architectural creations of recent times.

  1. What is the cheese consumption per head in France (2010 figures) by weight?

a) 14.2 kg

b) 23.7 kg

c) 29.55 kg

The correct answer is b) 23.7 kg. See my post about French cheese

  1. What is “pain perdu”?

a) A dish made of bread soaked in beaten egg and milk and fried

b) Stale bread used for making croutons

c) A figurative term meaning not worth the effort

It is a dessert made as described in a).

  1. If someone says, “Vous avez du pain sur la planche,” what do they mean?

a) You are very fortunate

b) You’ve only got bread to eat

c) You’ve got your work cut out

Here, I will accept a) and c). The current meaning is c), i.e. you have some rather tedious work ahead of you, a lot on your plate. 

However, the phrase was also used at one time to mean that you had resources put by for the future, a). It probably originated from the days when enough loaves of bread were baked to last for a fortnight and stocked on the shelves. 

As an aside, another early definition referred to the number of jail sentences, “pains sur la planche,” a criminal had accumulated. Convicts were said to “manger le pain du roi” (eat the king’s bread). The criminal classes also referred to the magistrate’s bench as “la planche au pain.”

  1. What is “un pastis”?

a) An alcoholic drink

b) An apple pastry

c) An artist’s sketch

I will accept a), which is an aniseed-flavoured aperitif, and b) a kind of apple pie made with filo pastry and specific to the Quercy region of SW France.

  1. What is “un toubib”?

a) A hairpiece

b) A slang word for a doctor

c) A migratory bird

The answer is b) a slang word for a doctor. It probably comes from the Arabic tabib, a doctor, although there’s some dispute about its origins. 

  1. Which literary prize did French author Patrick Modiano win in 2014?

a) The Nobel Prize for Literature

b) The Prix Goncourt

c) The Grand Prix de l’Académie Française

The answer is a), which brings with it a prize of 8 million Swedish Krona (about €844,000). Actually, I have just discovered the correct name is the Nobel Prize in Literature.

  1. When moving house in France, which item of furniture should you carry into the new house first?

a) A bed

b) A chair

c) A table

The answer is c) a table, for reasons I can’t determine. Possibly because the most important thing was to have sufficient food, which the table represented. If anyone can enlighten us as to the specific reason, please do. 

Maximum points: 26

20-26: Francophile.

13-19: Aspiring francophile.

7-12: Struggling francophile.

0-6: Francophobe.

Marking system not to be taken seriously.

It only remains to thank you for reading my blog. Stay tuned and look out for some enhancements next year.

Bonne fin d’année. Au plaisir de vous revoir en 2015.

Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. This is cute but I am wondering which part of France is under as much snow as this?


    • You’re quite right: the photo was taken some years ago, when we did get a lot of snow. That was the only time we have been able to make snowmen. I think the Alps have had snow at last. The ski resorts were suffering from a lack of snow before Christmas.


    • Some of the questions were a bit obscure, but I’m pleased to see you did it without recourse to the internet, so you can award yourself a few extra points for that!


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