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The ways of France

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.

6 comments to The ways of France

  • Ed

    I saw a poster in a bar when I was in Brittany recently campaigning against the ban – which is more of a campaign against it than we had here! Like most silly laws in France, it will go unenforced and ignored.

  • Sheri Shepherd

    It is the Catholic influence, I think. France was never subjected to the Puritan Revolution with its prurience,disapproval and love of banning other people’s fun.

  • dearieme

    I doubt whether the Huguenots associate French catholicism with tolerance.

  • The Last Toryboy

    My French housemate, who is a student and thus spends more time boozing and smoking than most, tells me this law is unenforced and unenforcable.

    The worthy thing about the French is their tendency to simply ignore laws they don’t like, and damn the government. I don’t think they have the equivalent of the British zealot local authority officer who makes it his lifes work to spread misery wherever he goes armed with clipboard and pen and a big sheaf of rules.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I doubt whether the Huguenots associate French catholicism with tolerance.

    Indeed, but then the protestant Calvinists of Geneva were not exactly party animals, either. Calvin had opponents burned at the stake.

    I think the religious point, at least in more recent times, is a cultural thing. Puritanism has been associated, not always fairly, with the Protestant strain in western Christianity, although goodness knows there are plenty of puritanical Catholics.

  • ali

    The French will make toast of the puritanical smoking ban. However, there has been, and continues to be, some spirited resistance on this side of the channel, with a National Smoking Day protest on 31st December: