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What cultural knowledge is needed for citizenship?

What level of French cultural or historical knowledge is expected for taking citizenship?  G.D.

Part of obtaining citizenship is demonstrating ‘integration’ – not necessarily that everyone must be the same or have a certain lifestyle, but you need to ascribe to certain values and have a basic knowledge of the culture and history of France and the rights and responsibilities of the citizen.

This used to be defined as the level of a child leaving primary school and was subject to a multiple choice test.
This has now been removed, and instead these factors are tested as part of the interview that you will have at the prefecture.

Encyclopaedic knowledge is not expected but you are supposed to demonstrate certain ‘fundamentals’ which every French adult might be expected to know.

The ‘values’ include democracy, freedom of thought and religion, equality etc. For example, if you disagree with democracy or you think one gender is superior to another, you might be disqualified.

You should have an understanding of laïcité (secularism) – that is the state’s neutral stance towards religion, and separation of church and state – or fraternité, which includes the idea of social security, to which everyone contributes and from which each receives according to his or her needs.

Theoretically French people also have an obligation to answer the appel sous les drapeaux (call to fight for France) if parliament should pass a law reactivating it – though this is unlikely to happen today.

A basic understanding of central and local government is also expected, such as how long the president is elected for (five years) or the names of the houses of parliament (Sénat and Assemblée Nationale) and how many communes there are (36,000).

You should also have a grasp of some of the key events of French history from the painting of the Lascaux cave to Roman colonisation, the Revolution and the Vichy regime, or major figures like Joan of Arc, Henri IV, Napoleon or Charles de Gaulle.

The same applies to culture, including famous artists, writers and scientists who contributed to the reputation of France, such as the 17th century playwright Molière or 19th-20th century chemist Marie Curie.

You should also have some concept of the place of France and French in the world – la Francophonie, France’s economic power and significance in the EU and an idea of its geography (eg. the regions and important features like mountain ranges or famous monuments).
A non-exhaustive document giving examples is available, at: tinyurl.com/livret-du-citoyen

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