A close friend who recently bought a lovely property down in Cannes, France, invited Mrs Pearce and yours truly down for Christmas. How can one refuse? We did not. I rather like the old seaside town, with its 19th Century Belle Epoque hotels and small side-streets. The place is pretty civilised over Christmas: unlike the Film Festival season or the various financial services conferences held there during the year, the place was mostly filled by locals and there was a merciful lack of beer-swilling Brits. France likes to pride itself as being far more grown-up in its approach to alcohol than the British, and I think this is mostly accurate, having been to France many times to see the locals in action of an evening. This item, however, says the French go pretty “British” in their drinking habits over the New Year.
Meanwhile, France is of course joining the puritanical Anglosphere by banning smoking in all cafes and restaurants from next February. A shame: although I dislike tobacco smoke intensely, if I choose to enter a bar where the owner of said private property allows it, it is my problem, not his. I can choose to leave. No-one forces me to work in a bar or drink in one at gun point. One of the things I quite like about France is that despite it being a more bureaucratic nation than Britain in many ways – although that is passing – the French have always struck me as a fairly tolerant bunch on certain social issues (the Catholic influence, maybe, I am not sure).
It will be interesting to see whether the ban is enforced in all French premises. I rather doubt it.