Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2016: the Answers

Bonne fin d'année

I hope you had a great Christmas. How did you get on with the quiz? I promised you the answers today and here they are – a little late because I got engrossed in writing my next novel. Don’t forget that for some of the questions more than one answer of the three possibilities given is correct, and I did warn you about trick questions, too. Some answers are open to interpretation, but I spent a lot of time checking and double-checking. No prizes, just a bit of fun.

So, here we go. Explanations are given below the answers where necessary. 

1 What is un petit gris?

a) A type of edible snail
b) A breed of cat
c) How you feel the day after the office party

2 Who was elected in the recent primaries to be the candidate for the right in next May’s presidential elections?

a) Nicolas Sarkozy
b) François Fillon
c) François Hollande

3 What is the traditional motif on a Laguiole knife?

a) A wild boar
b) A snake
c) A bee

4 What do you do with tablier de sapeur?

a) Wear it?
b) Eat it?
c) Make boots with it?

Tablier de sapeur (literally sapper’s apron) is a kind of tripe of Lyonnais origin, made from the lining of a cow’s stomach. I have never tried it and don’t feel greatly inclined to. It owes its name to the Maréchal de Castellane, military governor of Lyon under Napoleon III, who was very partial to it. He was a former sapper, who wore leather aprons to carry out their more arduous tasks.

I suspect you might be better off making boots with it, but I won’t accept that as an answer.

5 What was the first name of Napoléon Bonaparte’s mother?

a) Lutetia
b) Lucretia
c) Letizia

Letizia Ramolino married Carlo Buonaparte (Corsican spelling) in 1764, aged 13. She had 13 children, eight of whom survived infancy. Most of those became, or married, crowned heads of Europe during their brother Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France. She died in 1836 aged 85, having outlived her most famous son by 15 years.

6 Which of the following maillots (jerseys) is not awarded during the annual Tour de France cycle race?

a) Green
b) Yellow and black striped
c) Polka dot

7 What is un trou normand?

a) A glass of Calvados drunk as a mid-meal digestif
b) A natural depression in the ground
c) A sleazy nightclub

8 Of which famous historical site did President François Hollande recently inaugurate a replica?

a) The Lascaux caves
b) The Palace of Versailles
c) The Louvre

9 If someone “vous pose un lapin”,  are they

a) Not telling the truth?
b) Failing to turn up for a rendezvous?
c) Lumbering you with an unwanted task?

A variation meaning the same thing is “coller un lapin“. In the late 19th century it actually meant not to pay a lady of easy virtue for her services. Its current meaning developed from the sense of not honouring your commitments.

10 What is une auberge espagnole?

a) An inn under Spanish ownership
b) Where you bring your own food
c) Where the food is reputed to be terrible

The answer I was looking for was b), which is the current definition of the term. It originated either because Spanish auberges didn’t provide food or it was so bad that you had to supply your own, so c) is also just about acceptable, being one of the origins of the term. I will be generous and give you a point each for b) and/or c). Giving you a point for a), which is technically correct, would be stretching it a bit.

11 What is un mendiant?

a) A beggar
b) A confection topped with fruit and nuts
c) A medical student

The confection, somewhere between a biscuit and a chocolate, is a chocolate disk studded with fruit and nuts that represent the four mendicant or monastic orders: Dominican, Augustinian, Franciscan and Carmelite.

12 Which of the following French regions was not amalgamated into a new jumbo region on 1st January 2016? 

a) Midi-Pyrénées
b) PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)
c) Auvergne 

13 Which of these rivers originating in France is the longest? 

a) La Seine
b) La Dordogne
c) La Loire

La Loire is the longest at 1,012 km, followed by the Seine (776 km) and then the Dordogne (483 km). Other rivers which have a longer total length rise outside France.

14 Which aspect of French culture was awarded World Heritage Status in 2010?

a) Gastronomy
b) The Impressionist movement
c) Fashion

15 What is a poisson d’Avril?

a) A sparse Lenten meal
b) An April fool trick
c) An untrustworthy person

It’s also associated with the tradition pursued by children of sticking a paper cut-out fish on someone’s back on 1st April. The origins of this are obscure and several possible explanations exist.

16 Which animals are you not permitted to carry on the TGV (high speed train)?

a) Snakes
b) Snails
c) Tortoises

Trick question – you were warned. “Domestic” animals are permitted on trains, provided that the owner has paid for them. All those under 6 kg must be carried in a suitable container.

SNCF’s website doesn’t give a definitive definition of domestic animals. Snails and snakes appear to be accepted as “compagnons” or pets, but presumably there are limits. In 2012, a man took two boa constrictors in a sack on the Paris-Marseille TGV. One escaped and hid in a ventilation duct, which the fire brigade had to dismantle in order to remove the snake once the train arrived in Marseille.

In another case, a man was fined for taking live snails on board without paying for them, but the fine was eventually rescinded. My view is that regarding snakes and snails as pets is going a bit far, but who am I to argue with SNCF? Have ticket, will travel.

So you can have one point if you didn’t choose any of the options given above. If it were up to me, you could have a point for choosing snakes, but rules are rules.

17 How many time zones are there in France (including its overseas territories)?

a) 4
b) 9
c) 12

French territories are spread out across the globe, and so straddle no less than 12 time zones, more than any other country.

18 Who said, “Le vin est la partie intellectuelle d’un repas (wine is the intellectual part of the meal)?

a) Alexandre Dumas
b) Gérard Dépardieu
c) Charles de Gaulle

19 Which is said to be the longest street in France?

a) L’avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris
b) La rue Sainte-Cathérine in Bordeaux
c) Le cours Napoléon in Ajaccio

I say “said to be”, since there’s some doubt about longer roads that actually change their name along their length, so I gave you the choice of these three, which don’t. a) is ca. 1.91 km long, b) is ca. 1.25 km (and currently holds the title for the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe) and c) is ca. 1.76 km.

20 If you want to wish someone good luck before a performance, what should you say?

a) Merde!
b) Bon courage!
c) Sacré bleu!

You could possibly say “bon courage“, but “merde” is the French equivalent of the English “break a leg”, since wishing someone good luck in so many words is tantamount to tempting providence. So only answer a) is strictly correct.

You could have scored a maximum of 22 points.

17-22 – félicitations
11-16 – encouragements
5-10 – commisérations
0-4 – rien à dire

See you next year for more from Life on La Lune.

Copyright © 2016 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved



    • Thank you, and to you. I had the greatest difficulty with this question, since there were so many qualifying factors, such as streets that have been given new names at points along their length. And, funnily enough, the rue de Vaugirard didn’t come up in any of the searches I did, although it looks as if you’re right. I would hate to be the compiler of The Guinness Book of Records!


  1. A belated Bonne Annee, Vanessa! I’d no idea about saying ‘Merde!’ for good luck. So thanks for that, shall try it out…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy new year, vanessa
    i was surprised by how many i knew and pleased to learn some new things i hadn’t known. Re l’auberge espagnole, this i knew from my ‘rock’ class who always use the expression for our ‘rock’ soirees. A cue to start cooking! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonne année. Glad you did well and also learned some new things. Funnily enough, I have recently come across several French people who didn’t know what the term auberge espagnole signified. It may be a regional thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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