The French nationality culture test

The storming of the Bastille

What does France expect you to know about the country? 

If you are British, you probably know the significance of the date 1066, who Guy Fawkes was, that Shakespeare was one of the greatest writers in history, and that the country is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

So what are the elements that every French person should know about their country – and, more importantly for those going for French nationality, that the State thinks people should know about France, its culture, its history and its constitution?

The answers are to be found in the Livret du Citoyen, published by the Ministère de l’Intérieur and essential reading for anyone who wishes to ask for nationality.


Key date

The most important date is the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, and all that it stands for.

Nearly half the booklet is devoted to a description of the political make-up of France, its symbols, the rights and duties of its citizens, and the 17 articles of the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen as they were set out in 1789.


Symbols of France

The four symboles were created at the time of the Revolution.

They are July 14; the Marseillaise national anthem; the bleu, blanc, rouge tricolour flag, which was made up from the royal white flag and the red and blue flag of Paris; and Marianne.

Marianne represents liberty. Images of a woman wearing a Phrygian cap, which was worn by the freed slaves of ancient Greece and Rome, first appeared during the Revolution.

It is thought that she came to be called Marianne because Marie-Anne was a popular name during the 18th century.

One of the most famous pictures of her is in a painting by Eugène Delacroix in 1830, where she is seen bare-breasted, carrying the tricolour and wearing a bonnet phrygien.

From the 1870 ...

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