Drinking habits in France

We asked about drinking, after the Ministry of Health organised a campaign against the drinking habits of older people

18 March 2011

LAST WEEK we asked about your drinking habits, after the Ministry of Health organised a campaign against the more mature section of the population who drank more frequently but less extremely than younger 'binge drinkers'.

LIVING in France on and off for the last forty years, French wife, two bi-national daughters, I think I know a little about drinking habits in this country.

It seems obvious that alcohol consumption around the world stems from peoples' problems with living.

Difficulties that drive some, whether young or old, to suicide, allure others to the pub, or the whisky bottle.

I've travelled and worked around the world before "settling" in France; and found people, particularly men, consumed some form of drug in all countries. In Muslim areas, they smoke hashish or chew khat etc.

The French apparently find coping with life very stressful, and have a record consumption of anti-depressants, sleeping pills etc and, however civilized their drinking habits compared with the Brits' binge-drinking, manage to down a near world record of wine and other alcoholic liquids.

I probably drink more here than I might have done had I stayed in the UK. Daily consumption of wine (mostly red) with frequent top-ups of Scotch, gin, cognac, have not yet turned me into a total soak, and at age 90, there's probably not enough time left for that to ever happen!

H. Elliot Stone

I personally think that a lot of French people do drink excessively. I have recently noticed that where I live in Monmartre there are a lot of males drinking on the street at all times of the day and night.

When I say on the street I don't mean outside the cafés. Just the other day a fight broke out between two males who were very intoxicated. I think a lot of people were surprised by this behaviour, especially in a major tourist attraction.

I really think the authorities in France, not in just the tourist areas, need to get a grip on the situation. A lot of genuine people drink sensibly and by that I mean they sit in cafés having a glass of beer or wine with their meal. But I do think that on the streets it's becoming a major problem.

I came to live in France to get away from that kind of behaviour in the UK. I didn't expect to see that sort of problem in Paris.
Ian Campbell

I CAN'T speak for anyone else but this is a worry for me. I am a 65-year-old woman and I have been a regular drinker all my life. Probably I drink less now that I live in France, mainly because I no longer work.

Nowadays I only get through about three or four bottles of wine a week but it can be more. I'm waiting for the ailments to hit as predicted by all the advice I read.

I've been a regular drinker since about the age of 14. I grew up in a pub in the UK in a rural area where no one really checked on the age of the bar staff. I'm hoping I've got the parents' genes: father drank a bottle of wine a day and very often a few nips of Scotch too, mother a bottle of sherry. Both lived well into their 80's.

And no, I'm not a lush, I rarely get drunk and never get hangovers these days.
Name withheld on request

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