10 Language-bending Riddles in French (With Translations and Answers)

What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?

Remember this Greek legend?

The Sphinx asks travelers to answer the above riddle, devouring all who try to pass until Oedipus finally kills her by giving the correct answer: man.

Fortunately, you won’t need to pass such a test when traveling to France!

But even if you don’t need the answer to gain access to the country, riddles in the French language can help you in myriad other ways once you arrive in the land of baguette, wine and amour (love)!

Simply put, practicing French using riddles is an excellent way to improve your language skills and prepare for a trip abroad.

Don’t miss out on the fluency fun and learn more below!

Why Use Riddles to Learn French?

There are many reasons to learn French with riddles, but the most obvious is that it’s a ton of fun!

We all know that when we’re enjoying something, we tend to do it more, so why not use your love of puzzles to create good French study habits?

Many riddles contain one-word answers and, in order to solve the enigma, you’ll have to recall loads of vocabulary while searching for the answer. This improves your memory skills and lets you practice tons of vocabulary at the same time.

Furthermore, the wordplay that’s often used in riddles can specifically teach you the double meaning of French words. Even if you think you know what a word means, sometimes you’ll see it in another context that seems confusing. Wordplay helps eliminate this problem by teaching you more possibilities for each word.

Aside from all of the French benefits, reflecting on difficult riddles is simply good for improving critical thinking, something that we could all use more of!

French riddles can even help you understand French humor. Understanding jokes and puzzles in any language is a key to learning more about the countries where it’s spoken, which in turn will immerse you further in the language. 

Where Can You Find French Riddles Online?

By now, you’re convinced and ready to start learning with French riddles but perhaps asking yourself, “Where in the world do I find them?”

Luckily for you, there are tons of great French websites out there loaded with jokes, puzzles and more. Below are a few of my favorites!


riddles-in-french-languageEnigmatik is a website full of enigmas for you to solve. They’re particularly great because they break their enigmas down into categories such as logic, natural laws, wordplay, etc.

Their riddles are more extensive and I love reading through a good bit of information and having to solve the story!

As a perk, they also have a very helpful junior category for children, which can be quite useful for beginner French speakers.



Blablagues—by the way, blague means “joke” in French—has nearly 20 pages worth of riddles for you.

I like that you have the option to rate the riddles and send them to friends. What I don’t like is that the answers to each riddle are automatically shown underneath, so be careful not to peek!

In addition to riddles, they have tons of categories full of jokes, if you like those as well.

Taka Rire

riddles-in-french-languageTaka Rire (rire means “to laugh”) is another great website full of riddles.

On their main page, they list the most recently posted riddles, but they also have an archive of them spit into creative categories such as c’est la vie (that’s life), cuisine (cooking) and il ne faut pas exagérer (you mustn’t exaggerate).

Again, the answers are given directly below the riddles so be sure to cover them up!

Meilleures Devinettes

riddles-in-french-languageMeilleures Devinettes (Best Riddles) is a website that looks like it’s just for kids—which, again, is great for beginner speakers—but has some excellent riddles for adults as well.

Advanced speakers can choose from their difficult puzzles, while those looking for a bit of humor can check out any one of their funnier categories—including humour noir (dark humor).

Unravel the Mystery of Fluency: 10 Riddles in the French Language

Below are 10 great riddles—some slightly modified versions of ones I found on the recommended websites above—to get you started.

We’ll give you a set of riddles up front, followed by their answers so that it’s harder to peek!

Riddles in the Dark

The following riddles are styled as “Who am I?” riddles made famous by J.R.R. Tolkien’s battle of wits between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in “The Hobbit” chapter entitled “Riddles in the Dark.”

Riddle 1:

Toujours le premier, jamais le dernier,
Rien sans lui n’est jamais fini
Car rien ne peut commencer sans lui.
Qui est-il?

Always the first, never the last,
Nothing can finish without it
Because nothing can start without it.
What is it?

Riddle 2:

J’ai un chapeau mais pas de tête.
J’ai un pied mais pas de jambe.
Qui suis-je?

I have a cap but no head.
I have a foot but no leg.
Who am I?

You’ll need to think about the French words for this one, as their English equivalents don’t really match up.

Riddle 3:

On en jette l’extérieur et on en cuit l’intérieur.
Ensuite, on mange l’extérieur et on jette l’intérieur.
De quoi s’agit-il?

You throw away the outside and cook the inside.
Then, you eat the outside and throw away the inside.
Of what am I speaking?

Riddle 4:

Je suis ce que je suis.
Mais je ne suis pas ce que je suis.
Car si j’étais ce que je suis,
Je ne serais pas ce que je suis.
Que suis-je?

Hey, why no translation?

This particular riddle is difficult to translate because it has to do with French wordplay. If I translate it with the answer in mind, I’ll give it away! Instead, really focus on the French version—we’ll give you the translation and answer below.

Riddles in the Dark Answers

Answer 1:

Le début (the beginning)

Answer 2:

Un champignon (a mushroom)

Here, the answer makes sense only in French, as pied (foot) can also be used to refer to the stalk of a mushroom.

Answer 3:

Un épi de maïs (a corncob)

Answer 4:

Okay, here’s that translation we promised:

I am what I am.
But I am not what I follow.
Because if I were what I follow,
I would not be what I am.
What am I?

Un berger (a shepherd)

The key to understanding this riddle is in the word suis, which can be either the first-person conjugated form of être (to be) or suivre (to follow).

At first glance, one believes the riddle to simply use je suis (I am) repeatedly, but the key is figuring out that sometimes je suis means “I am” and sometimes it means “I follow.”

Enigmas, Batman-Style

The next few puzzles are enigmas that would stump even Batman’s nemesis, Nygma!

Riddle 5:

Qu’est-ce qui a des ailes et ne vole pas?

What has wings but doesn’t fly?

This is another one where only the French version will help you.

Riddle 6:

Qu’est-ce qu’un hippopotame qui fait du camping?

What is a hippopotamus who camps?

Riddle 7:

Qu’est-ce qui sépare l’eau de l’air?

What separates water from air?

Hint: focus exclusively on the French version, listening rather than reading!

Enigma Answers

Answer 5:

Un moulin (a windmill)

While in English, we refer to vanes, sails or blades on a windmill, in French, they use ailes (wings).

Answer 6:

Un hippocampe (a hippocampus)

Answer 7:

Le papier toilette (toilet paper)

This one requires an explanation, as you’ll only understand it using French.

In the riddle, l’eau (water) and l’air (air) are actually meant to be thought of by their sounds, which makes them the letters O and R, respectively. The letters between O and R are of course P and Q. And in French, PQ is sometimes how one refers to papier toilette (toilet paper).

It’s truly necessary to think in French when solving French riddles!

Elementary, Watson!

The last several riddles are set up as mysterious scenarios that only the next Sherlock Holmes can solve!

Riddle 8:

Avant-hier, Catherine avait 17 ans.
L’année prochaine, elle aura 20 ans.
Comment est-ce possible?

The day before yesterday, Catherine was 17-years-old.
Next year, she will be 20-years-old.
How is this possible?

Riddle 9:

J’ai quelque chose dans ma poche mais ma poche est vide.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?

I have something in my pocket but my pocket is empty.
What is it?

Riddle 10:

Il y a une prêtresse de la tribu. Elle répond toujours clairement par oui ou non. Quelle question pourriez-vous poser pour qu’elle se trompe?

There’s a tribe priestess. She always responds with either a “yes” or a “no.” What question can you ask her to cause her to make a mistake?

Elementary Answers

Answer 8:

It’s possible because her birthday is December 31.

Yesterday was December 31. She turned 18-years-old. This year, she will turn 19-years-old and next year, she will turn 20-years-old.

Answer 9:

Un trou (a hole)

Answer 10:

Est-ce que le prochain mot que tu vas dire “non?”

Will the next word that you say be “no?”


Now that you’ve put your deductive skills to the test, it’s time to keep improving your French and solving your way all the way to fluency!

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