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A1 French Reading Challenge

Week Three: Beauty and the Beast

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Week One: Introduction


Week Two: The Nutcracker / EFR 1

Week Three: The Black Tulip / EFR 2

Week Four: Fables / EFR 3

Week Five: Beauty and the Beast / EFR 4

Week Six: Lancelot / EFR Revision


Week Seven: A1 DELF Exam papers (for weird fun)

(EFR= Easy French Reader)


Week Four

Welcome to the fourth week of our French reading challenge! This week’s selection is The Beauty and the Beast, by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve


In this post, like all others in the A1 French Reading Challenge series, I’ll summarise each chapter and provide a short glossary of words that I felt necessary to look up*. If I make a mistake, please be kind! I’m setting this French challenge up as a personal challenge to improve my own level. I’m no expert! 

This tale, known to most humans, is surprising in that it was written over three hundred years ago (and not by Walt Disney). The edition comes with excellent introductions to castles along the Loire, as well as a brief (western) history of fairytales. 

(To learn more about why I believe readers are the best way to learn a foreign language, click here. To learn about how to choose a suitable text, click here)


Summary (SPOILERS!) and Vocabulary


Chapter 1: La ruine, l'exil


Once upon a time (you can the point), there was a rich merchant who had three daughters. Two of them were horrible and idled away their time looking for rich suitors and pleasure. The youngest, Beauty, was not only stunning but also endowed with a keen intellect, a love for reading, and a kind heart. One day, the merchant's ship sunk and he lost all of his wealth. The family was forced to move to a farm where the two elder sisters continued to pine after the life of luxury they had enjoyed before. Only Beauty worked hard.

  1. cheveux bocuclés: curly hair

  2. pierres: stones

  3. prétendants: candidates

  4. chagrin: grief

  5. nettoyer: to clean

  6. elles s'ennuient: they get bored

  7. regretter: bemoan

Chapter 2: Une rose pour la Belle

One day the merchant was walking in a lonely wood when he became lost. He came upon a huge chateau and went inside, warmed himself by the fire, and stayed the night. In the morning, he went to the garden a picked a rose for his daughter. Suddenly, he heard a terrible roar...


  1. vide: empty

  2. volé: stolen

  3. déception: disappoint

  4. cour: yard, court

  5. règne: prevail

  6. affamé: hungry

  7. l'écurie: stable 

  8. nourriture: food

  9. cheminée: fireplace

  10. allumée: lit

  11. réchauffer: to warm

  12. feu: fire

  13. la veille: the night before

  14. il se rappelle: he recalls

  15. souhait: wish

  16. il cueille: he picks

Chapter 3: La sacrifice de la Belle

The noise came from a terrifying beast who scolded the merchant for being ungrateful. 


  1. aîneés: elders

  2. Elles frottent: rub

Chapter 4: Une question embarrassante

An old man passes and leaves his estate to his children, but before he does, he devises a cunning trick to help them see the value of hard work.


  1. chacune: each

  2. au milieu: in the middle

  3. drap en soie: silk sheet

  4. cadre doré: golden frame

  5. je m'ennuie: I get bored

  6. étagère: shelf

  7. il baisse les yeux: he looks down

  8. affreux: terrible

Chapter 5: La promesse

After 3 months, Beauty has grown accostomed to her new life with Beast and has even grown fond of him, despite his persistant failed attempts at proposal. However, she is miserable that she is causing her beloved father pain as he believes she's been eaten by Beast. She asks to visit her family to ensure them that she is safe and healthy. Beast agrees and she promises to return within 8 days.


  1. elle rougit: she blushes

  2. rendre triste: to make sad

Chapter 6: Un plan machiavélique

Belle returns to her house and her father is delighted to see her again. Beast's magic makes itself known when Belle decides to give her finery to her sisters; he makes it disappear! The sisters, consumed by jealousy, hatch a wicked plan to have their sister killed by Beast. 

Chapter 7: L'agonie de la Bête

The trick works and Beauty dreams of Beast lying in the garden dying of heartbreak. Beauty realises that she loves him and hurries home to find him. She believes him dead and confesses her love. Beast hears and recovers.


  1. un sourire sur les lèvres: a smile on the lips

  2. elle verse: she pours

  3. péniblement: painfully

Chapter 8: La fin du sortilège

Beast is turned back into a handsome prince as the spell is finally broken by true love. The sisters are turned to stone and made to repent their sins. 


  1. bougies: candles

Geek Corner:

The book, excluding exercises, has roughly 510 lines of text. By reading it ten times, we have read 5100 lines of French. This, plus the previous lines in the challenge, gives us a total count of 17250! Congratulations! We have completed 17.3% of our second goal of 100,000 lines. Hang in there!



Here are the books we are using for the challenge.

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Easy French Reader


Week One


Week Two


Week Three

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Week Five

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