The Good Life France's podcast

#30 - All about France Quiz

December 18, 2023 Janine Marsh & Olivier Jauffrit Season 2 Episode 30
#30 - All about France Quiz
The Good Life France's podcast
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The Good Life France's podcast
#30 - All about France Quiz
Dec 18, 2023 Season 2 Episode 30
Janine Marsh & Olivier Jauffrit

How much do you know about France?

In this episode we’re doing a quiz that everyone can join in with! We’ll ask some questions on all sorts of topics – gastronomy, history, culture, language and more, and we’ll give you the answers and if you got the question right, you can award yourself some points! We’ll also share some fascinating and extraordinary facts that bring history alive as we go.

There are a million points up for grabs – who wants to be a millionaire! 

Follow us:

Thanks for listening!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How much do you know about France?

In this episode we’re doing a quiz that everyone can join in with! We’ll ask some questions on all sorts of topics – gastronomy, history, culture, language and more, and we’ll give you the answers and if you got the question right, you can award yourself some points! We’ll also share some fascinating and extraordinary facts that bring history alive as we go.

There are a million points up for grabs – who wants to be a millionaire! 

Follow us:

Thanks for listening!

Podcast 30 - All about France Quiz

Janine: Bonjour, hello, and bienvenue, welcome to The Good Life France Podcast. I’m your host Janine Marsh, London-born but now sort of French as I’ve lived in France for many years. I write books, and I’m the Editor of The Good Life France website and magazine. I have about 50 animals – dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and geese and I travel round France exploring my adopted country, discovering its culture, traditions, food and wine and more.  I  love to share what I discover with you on this podcast alongside my podcast partner Olivier Jauffrit.


Olivier: Bonjour mes amis and amies! Yes indeed, a very big welcome to the podcast – it’s incredible to know that people are listening from so many countries all around the world – thank you so much for tuning in.


Janine: And also thank you so much for sharing us, we really really appreciate it. I get a lot of emails from people telling me that they listen to us when they’re driving, doing housework, going to work on the train, relaxing on a Sunday afternoon – I love to know where you’re listening! 


Oli: My friend who is French and lives in Paris listens too – he thinks we are very funny! That must be true. He’s my friend.


Janine: Well that’s good, bringing a smile to someone really makes my day. And I’m hoping we will bring everyone some smiles today!


Oli: I’m smiling already! So, Janine – it’s that time again, let’s share what our topic is today!


Janine: For today’s episode, I thought it would be fun to do a quiz that everyone can join in with! We’ll ask some questions on all sorts of topics – gastronomy, history, culture, language and more, and we’ll give you the answers and share some fascinating facts as we go.  


And if you’re listening – you can join in! We’re going to play it Who Wants to be a Millionaire style – and you get points for questions – up to a million! How well do you think you might do? Let’s find out… 


Let’s kick off with some easy questions and then they’ll get a bit harder…


The first question, super easy for 1000 points – what language do the people of France speak? 


A Dutch. B. Spanish. C. German. D. French 


Oli: I’m pretty sure that everyone just earned 1000 points with the right answer being D. French. 


Janine: Yep. Very easy that one. But did you know that before the French Revolution in the late 1700s, up to 50% of the French didn’t actually speak French. They spoke a local dialect – it was said more than 30 dialects were in use. But the new leaders of the French Revolutionary Government wanted to standardise things to make it more equal for everyone, weights and measures for instance. But especially language, how else would you enforce new rules for millions of people spread over a huge area if they all speak a different language? It took many years but eventually French became the common language. 


Oli: Some dialects are still spoken in France, in the Basque country and Brittany for instance. And where you live of course Janine – the language of Ch’ti! 


Janine: I actually have a Ch’ti dictionary – because the words are so different from French.  My neighbour Pierre who’s a famer, once asked me if I’d like to ride his bidet – which is the Ch’ti word for horse, cheval in French. That confused me I have to tell you.  And here’s a word I like in Ch’ti – a spoiled child in French is an enfant gâté, but in Ch’ti spoiled child a gaga! 


Oli: Next question – for 9000 points: Which French city is famous for its mustard?


Is it A: Dijon. B. Bordeaux. C. Strasbourg. D. Nice.


Do you need to phone a friend? Do you want me to take away 2 wrong answers? Do you want me to ask the listeners? 


Janine: I know the answer but I want you to ask the listeners anyway! 


Oli: Listeners what do you think? A? Did you say A? Shout louder so I can hear you! 


Janine: I agree – it’s A - Dijon! 

Oli: Yes you are right. Mustard has been popular in France for hundreds of years, it’s thought that the Romans introduced it. French Kings had their own mustard makers; according to Alexander Dumas, the great French writer, Louis XI kept his own pot of mustard with him most of the time so that he was prepared when visiting friends. The mustard could disguise the taste of food which wasn’t that nice to eat!


Janine: At one point there was even a mustard maker to Pope John XXII in the 14th century, he was at that time living in Avignon in Provence where 7 popes lived from 1305 to 1378. He appointed his own nephew who was apparently rather foolish and it led to the French expression “Il se croire le premier moutardier du pape” which means “he thinks he’s the Pope’s head mustard-maker” meaning someone who thinks themselves above their station. Pope John XXII also built a castle in Chateauneuf-du-Pape – to be his summer residence.


Right next question and this one is for a whopping 50,000 points. Name the famous French dance featuring high kicks and splits. Oli – queue the clue! 

Is it A. Tango. B. Can-can. C. Break dancing. D. Hip hop. 


Oli: Hmmm – I think I know this one! It’s B – Can-can. This was a music hall dance, first performed by female dancers wearing long skirts and petticoats, and black stockings, first performed in low class dance halls in Montparnasse in Paris about 1830. They scandalised polite society at first but by 1890 famous dancers like La Goulue and Jane Avril, were paid enormous sums for dancing at the Moulin Rouge which was the first ever electrically lit dance hall in the world! 


Janine: Nobody knows why the name can-can but most think that can-can meant scandal. La Goulue, as you said, was one of the most famous dancers. Her real name was Louise Weber, but she was nicknamed la Goulue, which means the glutton, because she had a habit of dancing past tables and downing the clients’ drinks in one gulp! She could also kick the hats of the heads of her admirers with a single high kick! Toulouse Lautrec captured her energy forever with his paintings, she was the highest paid entertainer of her day. 


Oli: If you’ve got all the questions right so far – you have 60,000 points! And now for 240,000 points can you name the island birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte?


Is it A. Ile de Re. B. Noirmoutier. C. Corsica. Or D. Belle Ile. 


What do you think? Janine – are you ready to answer? 


Janine: Yes Oli. I’m going to go for C – Corsica!


Oli: You’re right – it is Corsica! He was born Napoleone Buonaparte on August 15, 1769 in the city of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. Corsica only became French a short while before his birth, when the French bought the island from Genoa and took control in 1768. It’s a complicated history too much for this but by at the time Napoleon was born it was considered French – at least by the French. 


Janine: Napoleon had to learn to speak French as he spoke the Corsican language and he had a strong accent all his life. He joined the army and became a general during the French Revolution before becoming Emperor Napoleon 1st of France in 1804. 


But there was much more to him than that. He wrote a romance novel when he was 26 years old in 1795. Well more of a short story really, it was only 17 pages long. 


Oli: That same year he was engaged to one Désirée Clary the daughter of a minor noble. It fell through but she later became Queen of Sweden! And the engagement ended because Napoleon fell in love with someone else. Head over heels for Josephine! Her real name was Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie and her husband lost his head to the guillotine during the French Revolution. She was imprisoned but managed to survive. 


Janine: Napoleon was madly in love with Josephine and married her just a few months after he met her! I know how that feels! I met my husband after I bought a really cheap second-hand car which was all I could afford, and the person I bought it from left it outside my house and I couldn’t get it to start. They told me it needed a tune up. I had no idea what that meant so I went through the local newspaper and found an advert for a mobile tune up engineer, called the number, made an appointment and a few days later, this handsome mechanic turned up. And it was love at first sight for both of us, he never left and a few months later we got married and we’ve been together now for 25 years! He never did get that car to work though! Anyway I’m getting off topic. Josephine became Napoleon’s Empress, at least for a while. 


Oli: Napoleon’s mother hated Josephine and refused to go the coronation. She didn’t like the fact that Josephine was older apparently, or that the couple didn’t have children. She herself was a mother of 13. 8 of her children survived and as Napoleon conquered his way through Europe – he made them King and Queens. 


Janine: Despite the fact that the French had cut off the heads of their King and Queen and many nobles, Napoleon demanded all the trappings of an Emperor and chose Fontainebleau not too far from Paris, as his main chateau and when in Paris he chose the Palais des Tuileries as his official residence and stuck the Mona Lisa painting on his bedroom wall. 


Oli: I think we’ll have to do a Napoleon episode as there’s just so much to say about him! He kidnapped a Pope, 2 Popes in fact. And he changed how France was governed and his legacy lives on in so many ways even in the laws of France more than 200 years after he died. But enough Napoleon for now… on to the next question.


Janine: Da da. The last but one question - for 250,000 points, we’re feeling very generous today, what’s the highest mountain in France? Is it A Mont Saint-Michel? B Mont Cassel in Nord, northern France. C. Mont Ventoux in Provence. D Mont Blanc..

 Oli – are you ready? Do you want me to take away 2 wrong answers? 


Oli: Yes I think I know the answer but I want to use that lifeline anyway – just because I can!  


Janine: Okay Computer – take away two wrong answers… 


Ok we’re left with two answers – what is the highest mountain in France is it B Mont Cassel? Or is it D Mont Blanc?


Oli: It’s D – Mont Blanc!


Janine: You’re right it is the snowy Mont Blanc which means White Mountain.  It’s 15,777 feet (or 4809 metres) high. Or thereabouts, it varies according to how much snow there is – and it’s always capped with snow and very beautiful. 


Oli: Mont Blanc has feet in both France and Italy where it’s called Monte Bianco and a seven-mile-long tunnel directly underneath the mountain links the two countries. It is the second deepest tunnel in the world. The lowest recorded temperature on Mont Blanc is 43°C below zero, set in January 1893. And many people regard it as the birthplace of modern mountaineering when the first recorded ascent to the summit was made in 1786 by a local doctor and a local mountaineer


Janine: In olden days it was known as Mont Maudit, the Accursed Mountain. Probably because it was so high and difficult to climb. Even Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame turned down the chance to build an observatory at the top – he tried to see if it would work but couldn’t find solid rock after digging down more than 12 metres.

Oli: Mont Blanc hosts two of Europe’s highest toilettes! Yes, you heard that right! They were delivered by helicopter and are almost 14 000 feet up the mountain! 

Janine: Ok. You win the contest for weirdest fact of the day! 

Mont Cassel, the other mountain in the possible answers, is in fact quite close to where I live in Pas-de-Calais in the neighbouring department of Nord. It’s 176m high. And legend has it that this is the hill up which the Grand Old Duke of York marched his men! In Britain there is a famous children’s song, one of the oldest English nursery rhymes dating to the 1600s and still sung today. 

Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
 He had ten thousand men,
 He marched them up to the top of the hill
 And he marched them down again.

And when they were up they were up,
 And when they were down they were down,
 And when they were only half way up
 They were neither up nor down.

Anyway, Mont Cassell is often said to be the hill. Though no one can agree who the Grand Old Duke of York was or how many men he had, or even what war it was! 


Oli: And now for our final question. For 500,000 points. Who was the French queen who was widely said by some to have uttered the infamous words "Let them eat cake"?


Janine Is it A. Catherine de Medici. B. Anne of Brittany. C. Marie-Antoinette. D. Eleanor of Aquitaine.


Oli: I know this! It’s A Marie Antoinette, at least that is the story. Nowadays it’s believed that she never said this at all. But at the time and for many years afterwards that was the story that was spread to make her seem like a horrible person. 


Janine: You’re right! Who else got it right? Who got million points right in the France quiz today! Congratulations to you! 


Yes indeed it was said that on being told that the people of France were starving because they had no bread – Marie-Antoinette replied “let them eat cake.”


Born a princess in Austria, she arrived in France in 1770 to marry the future King Louis XVI of France, she was just 14 years old. At first she was super popular, a teen idol – when she first arrived in Paris the crowds were so huge that at least 30 people were trampled to death trying to see her. Alas for her, that popularity didn’t last. And there is a whole lot more to be said about this queen who became a fashion icon and who lost her head to Madame Guillotine. 


Oli: And though none of us can be 100% sure that Marie-Antoinette didn’t say “let them eat cake”… it’s actually very unlikely but that is one of the things she is still remembered for, though a more factual translation of what has been quoted "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," is “let them eat brioche”. 


Janine: Historians say that in fact the story that Marie-Antoinette said this was most likely spread almost 100 years after her death when, as is the way of things, history was rewritten by the victors, and there was an attempt to tarnish her reputation. When you think about it, it was her husband who was in charge, he held all the power, but she does seem to come out of it with a worse reputation. We’ll have to do a Marie-Antoinette episode too, again so much more to say! 


Oli: We hope you enjoyed this episode – how many millionaires did we create today I wonder?!  Feel free to share this edition with your friends – and help them become millionaires too! 


And if you have a topic you’d like to hear more about – just let us know, we’ll give you the email address in a few minutes. 


But for now it’s time for a listener’s question.

Oli: In every episode of this podcast, we answer one of your questions – and we don’t mind what you ask us! Let’s find out what today’s question is. 

 Janine: Today’s question is from Tony Archer from Melbourne Australia and he wants to know “Is it true that in France, you can write a cheque out on a piece of toilet paper?” Well that’s an odd one Tony! 

 So, Oli, is it true or false – in France you can write a cheque out on a piece of toilet paper?


Oli: Well I have never tried it myself but technically yes you can! A cheque in France doesn’t need to come from a cheque book, technically under French finance law, you can literally write a cheque on any blank piece of paper you like as long as it has all the relevant information. 


Janine: I cannot imagine walking into my local bank to pay a cheque in that’s been written on anything other than a cheque. But I’d like to! The first time I tried to pay cash into my account I handed over my bank card and 100 euros and they said, ah non, you need to have your passport or carte d’itentite to pay cash in. Ok I said, thank you for that information, I’m quite new to France – I was then. I went home and got my passport. I went back. Then they said I had to have my cheque book in order to pay cash in. Aha I said – I have that with me! Problem over. But no. They then wanted a utility bill. I had to go home again and get one. So while I am dreaming of writing out a cheque – maybe on a huge piece of blank cardboard, so big it wouldn’t fit in the car and I’d have to tie it on the roof and then get help to take it into the bank and ask them to pay it in to my account. I just can’t see that happening! 


Oli: Thanks so much for that question Tony. If you also have a question for us – feel free to send it to or via our podcast newsletter. And, if there’s a topic you want to know more about – let us know! 

 Thank you, a huge merci beaucoup, to everyone for listening to our podcast from all around the world! And an enormous thank you for sharing the podcast with your friends and family, we’re truly grateful when you do that. 


You’ve been listening to Janine Marsh and me Olivier Jauffrit. You can find me at 


Janine: And you can find me  and heaps of information about France – where to visit, culture, history, recipes – everything France - at where you can subscribe to the podcast, my weekly newsletter about France and our totally brilliant, totally free magazine which you can read at 


But for now, it’s au revoir from me.


Olivier: And goodbye from me.


Janine: Speak to you soon! 

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