Entrants for this year's Miss France beauty pageant have been subjected to a new general knowledge quiz, sparking "panic" among contestants forced to prove they are more than just a pretty face.
The 33 girls were informed they would have to take the test after arriving on the French-speaking Indian Ocean island of Mauritius this week for the annual televised competition.
The exam included such probing questions as: "Who is the prime minister of France?", "What's the average price of a baguette?" and "Complete the sequence: A, E, I...".
Competition organiser and 2002 Miss France winner Sylvie Tellier said it was important for contestants to demonstrate they possessed not only beauty, but intelligence as well.
According to Sud Ouest newspaper, which obtained the list of questions, they were designed to "fight against clichés and to check whether their brains were as up to the mark as their interminable legs".
The new test appeared to be an attempt by owners Endemol France to fend off claims they had lowered the tone of the contest by allowing contests to bare more than in previous years.
Miss Tellier and the girls' bodyguards ensured there was no cheating when the competitors took a 60-minute test together under exam conditions in their luxury hotel.
According to Sud Ouest newspaper, whose reporter was on the scene, when the girls, aged 18 to 24, took the exam papers: "Many had the look of panic in their eyes." The test involved 40 questions divided into ten categories. Questions like "Which historic event do the French celebrate on 14th July?", "Who is Usain Bolt?" and "What is the square root of 9?" would clearly not have made it onto Mastermind.
Others were a tad trickier, such as: "What country does Gisele Bundchen come from?," or "What is the net minimum wage in France on November 1, 2012?"
The most taxing mental arithmetic question was: "You leave for New York on a flight at 2pm (French time) with a flight time of 5 hours and 30 minutes.
What time do you arrive in New York local time given that the time difference is minus six hours?"
According to La Montagne, another regional French paper, Miss Burgundy came top with 17.5 out of 20, ahead of Miss Brittany and Miss Picardy, both on 16. However, the average score was not revealed.
The general knowledge addition follows a bitter legal battle with the woman who ran Miss France for over 50 years.
Geneviève de Fontenay, 79, known as La Dame au Chapeau (The Lady with the Hat), reigned supreme over the beauty pageant as its self-styled moral guardian prepared to strip beauty queens of their crown for baring too much flesh.
In 2010, she stormed out, accusing Endemol France of turning Miss France into trash.
"Those (girls) who like opening their legs will be with Endemol and those with a bit of class will stay by my side," said the formidable matriarch.
Last month, a French court banned her from holding or broadcasting a rival pageant called Miss Prestige National, which she claims respects her moral and dress codes.
She has pledged go ahead with the contest all the same at Paris' Lido on December 10, just two days after the official Miss France.
Miss Tellier said: "The fact that Geneviève is no longer there doesn't mean we won't keep her values of politeness, elegance, punctuality, sociability and the absence of vulgarity." The contest has been regularly hit by scandals of past winners baring all in glossy magazines – the latest was Miss France 2011 who posed nude in Paris Match in August.
Miss Tellier said the temptation to strike a PR coup was huge. "Every morning I wake up wondering which of these girls will I find nude on the Internet?," she told Le Parisien.
SOURCE: The Telegraph, UK, 11/23/2012