Life on La Lune French Christmas Quiz 2019: the Answers

The picture has nothing to do with the quiz, but it’s one I took this year in the village of Vidaillac (Lot), where someone has created these wonderful wall paintings.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and enjoyed the quiz. Here are the answers to the 9th edition of the Life on La Lune French Christmas quiz. Ready?

Award yourself one point for each correct answer. Remember that some questions may have more than one correct answer…

  1. Which is the tallest man-made structure in France?

a) The Eiffel Tower

b) The Millau Viaduct

c) The Tour First

Answer: b) the Millau Viaduct, whose tallest pier is 343 metres. The Eiffel Tower is next at 300 metres; 324 including the broadcast antenna. The Tour First, which is in La Défense, the business district of Paris, lags below at 231 metres.

Millau Viaduct from the services’ viewpoint

2. Which cathedral celebrated its 900th anniversary this year?

a) Sainte-Cécile in Albi

b) Saint-André in Bordeaux

c) Saint-Etienne in Cahors

Answer: c) Saint-Etienne in Cahors (1119). Saint-André in Bordeaux was consecrated in 1096. Sainte-Cécile in Albi was begun in 1282 but not completed until 1492.

Cathédrale de Saint-Etienne in Cahors presiding over the market place.

3. A photo question. What is this building?

a) A barn

b) A pigeonnier

c) A church

Answer: c) it is the church in Toulongergues, Aveyron, dating back to the 10th century and reputed to be the oldest church in the département. It was used as a barn during the 20th century, and it has pigeon-holes at the top of the tower, but it was not built with these functions in mind. So, if you put c) you get one point. Null points for a) or b).

4. Which famous work of art was hidden in the Abbaye de Loc-Dieu during World War II?

a) Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’

b) Leonardo’s ‘Mona Lisa’

c) Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’

Answer: b) the ‘Mona Lisa’, or ‘La Joconde’ as it is known in France. It spent a few months at the abbey of Loc-Dieu in Aveyron during the summer of 1940, but fears about damage from damp led to it being relocated to the Musée Ingres in Montauban. Incidentally, the Musée Ingres has just re-opened after a three-year renovation project.

Abbaye de Loc-Dieu

5. What is a cochonnet?

a) A piglet

b) An unpleasant person

c) A small ball used in boules

Cochonnet on the right.

Answer: a) and c). In the game of boules, the cochonnet is a small, usually wooden, ball. The aim is to throw the boules so that they are as close to the cochonnet as possible. One point for each correct answer here.

6. What is the English meaning of “un gros bonnet”?

a) A bighead

b) A bigwig

c) A big baby

Answer: b) a bigwig, i.e. an important person.

7. Which flower is a symbol of those who have died for France?

a) Cornflower

b) Poppy

c) Chrysanthemum

Answer: a) the cornflower or bleuet in French is the symbol of those who have fallen in war or given their lives for France. The chrysanthemum is the flower traditionally placed on family graves at Toussaint, 1st November.

Bleuet buttonholes sold to mark the 11th November.

8. In which French town was Marcel Pagnol born?

a) Avignon

b) Aubagne

c) Marseille

Answer: b) Aubagne, a town near Marseille. Pagnol’s father was a schoolmaster there, and Marcel was born in 1895. He went on to become a novelist, dramatist and filmmaker, and was elected to the Académie Française.

Pagnol’s memoirs: Souvenirs d’Enfance.

9. How often are French municipal elections held?

a) Every 4 years

b) Every 6 years

c) Every 7 years

Answer: b) every six years. The next municipal elections will be held in March 2020. In 2007, the municipal elections coincided with the presidential and legislative elections and were therefore delayed until 2008, to avoid six polls in one year.

Our village mairie.

10. What was a maladrerie?

a) A medieval prison

b) A house of ill repute

c) A leper colony

Answer: c) a leper colony. These were usually situated outside towns and villages. Quite a few places in our area had one.

11. What symbol was a female farm worker supposed to wear when looking for work at a hiring fair?

a) A hen’s feather

b) An ear of wheat

c) A twist of wool

Answer: a) a hen’s feather. A ploughman sported an ear of wheat and a shepherd a twist of wool to show what type of work they were looking for.

12. When was the last person executed by the guillotine in France?

a) 1973

b) 1977

c) 1981

Answer: b) 1977. The last person to be executed by the guillotine was the convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi. Capital punishment was abolished in France in 1981, ending the guillotine’s (known as La Veuve, the widow) 189-year reign.

13. What is a distinctive ingredient of pounti, an Auvergne pâté?

a) Chestnuts

b) Prunes

c) Saffron

Answer: b) prunes, which cut through the richness of the meat. Swiss chard is another important ingredient in this dish, featured by Rick Stein in his recent travels around France.


14. The cultivation of which foodstuff was banned in France for a while during the 18th century?

a) Maize

b) Potatoes

c) Tomatoes

Answer: b) potatoes. The French parliament banned them between 1748 and 1772 following accusations that they spread diseases such as leprosy and syphilis. This is probably because of their knobbly and pockmarked appearance. Antoine Augustin Parmentier was prominent in their rehabilitation and gave his name to a number of dishes using potatoes, notably hachis parmentier, which is similar to cottage pie.

15. Which grape variety must make up at least 40% of a Fronton wine to achieve appellation status?

a) Malbec

b) Négrette

c) Merlot

Answer: b) Négrette. Malbec is the predominant grape variety in Cahors wines, also local to our region.

Fronton wines

16 Which of the following alcoholic drinks is not allowed in the French workplace by law?

a) Pastis

b) Wine

c) Poiré

Answer: a) pastis. Wine, beer and poiré (a pear brandy) are all allowed to be consumed in the workplace.

17. Which of the following is not made from grapes?

a) Cognac

b) Calvados

c) Armagnac

Answer: b) Calvados, which is an apple brandy hailing from Normandy.

18. For how long was Louis XIX King of France?

a) 20 minutes

b) 20 days

c) 20 weeks

Answer: a) 20 minutes. Louis Antoine, Duc d’Angoulême, was the last Dauphin of France from 1824 to 1830. Although he never actually reigned as king, he was technically the monarch for 20 minutes after the abdication of his father Charles X during the July 1830 Revolution, before he himself abdicated.

19. Apart from Emmanuel Macron, who currently holds the record (39), who was the youngest President of France at the time of taking office?

a) Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte

b) Raymond Poincaré

c) Valéry Giscard d’Estaing

Answer: a) Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, later Napoléon III, was the first President of France, 1848-52. He was 40 when he took office. Poincaré was 52, and Giscard d’Estaing was 48.

20. How long did the Hundred Years War actually go on for?

a) 96 years

b) 103 years

c) 116 years

Answer: c) the Hundred Years War was a series of conflicts that took place between 1337 and 1453 over the succession to the French throne.

Black Prince’s armour in le château de Saint-Projet – or so we were told.

Maximum possible points: 21.

How did you do?

16-21 Formidable !

11-15 Acceptable !

5-10 Améliorable !

0-4 Abominable !

It only remains for me to say thank you again for reading and following in 2019. See you again in the New Year. New decade, in fact. And, since it’s bad luck to wish anyone a HNY avant l’heure in France, I’ll just wish you…

**Bonne fin d’année!**

Copyright © Life on La Lune 2019. All rights reserved.


  1. I can report that the SF, aka my husband, had 15 out of 21. He does, of course, occupy a privileged position in having read all of my posts and visited a number of the places referred to in the questions. However, he had no assistance from me and like everyone else had to wait until the answers were posted.

    Liked by 1 person

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