Depending on where you grew up in the United States, you may have been exposed to excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption is excessive consumption of alcohol with the intention of becoming severely intoxicated. Until 2009, the legal drinking age in France was raised to 18 for cider, wine and beer (16 and 18 for spirits) for all types of alcoholic beverages. The French are very proud of their wine and it is honestly rare for the French to appreciate wine from elsewhere. But whether it`s French wine or not, the French have a certain wine consumption label. And that`s not all. You need to make eye contact with them when your glasses are touching. Of course, always be careful when drinking, especially if you`re in a new place and don`t know how your language skills will kill when you`re intoxicated. Thank you for that, very interesting, well documented. I was researching the laws on legal age and alcohol, as I myself live in France with 2 teenage girls. Fascinating that alcohol was still served in high schools until 1981, I didn`t know it! I love living in France and from an English speaking point of view – full of surprises! If you don`t want to drink in France, don`t worry, you won`t have to. French may be one of the most important drink-consuming cultures in the world, but I`ve never seen a Frenchman feel insulted or insist that someone drink with them – and you can take my word for it, because I`m not really a big drinker myself. Yet excessive alcohol consumption was seen as a problem that swept the nation.
In 2009, the Minister of Health and Sports, Roselyne Bachelot, passed a law setting the current legal age to consume and buy alcohol in France – 18 to consume and buy alcohol freely, and 16 to drink (but not be allowed to buy alcohol) accompanied by adults. In Greece, there is no legal age to consume alcohol, but the legal age to buy alcohol or alcohol in public places is 18. In chemical terms, alcohol is an organic compound formed during the fermentation of grains, vegetables or fruits. Medically, alcohol is classified as a sedative (as opposed to a stimulant like caffeine or a hallucinogen like psilocybin) with a variety of physiological effects. Most of these effects involve slowing down or obstructing bodily functions. For example, alcohol inhibits bodily motor functions and slows reaction times. The more you drink, the slower and clumsier they become. Similarly, alcohol also hinders the brain`s communication pathways. While one or two drinks can make a person looser and more relaxed, continued consumption leads to symptoms such as slurred speech, cloudy thinking, and poor decision-making. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to additional complications such as vomiting, memory loss, drowsiness up to fainting, and in extreme cases, alcohol poisoning.
Finally, long-term excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to serious physiological conditions, including (but not limited to) pancreatitis, cardiomyopathy, liver disease, hyperglycemia, cancer, and various neurological disorders. I hope you now have an idea of the drinking age in France, as well as some knowledge of the usual alcohol laws. If you want to know more about French culture, visit our French culture page. The idea that excessive alcohol consumption is a new phenomenon is also questionable. Festivals where young people deliberately get drunk have been around for a long time. My French husband, for example, remembers many nights like this when he was in college in the early to mid-1990s. I wonder if developments like social media have simply made the concept more visible to the general public. But this is usually not the case with French. This is because they know that if they keep drinking after a glass of wine, they will end up getting drunk. Now that you know if you can enjoy a glass of white wine with your fried stirrings, let`s dive a little deeper into the culture of drinking in France.
From French drinking habits to habits to unwritten rules, you`ll learn everything you need to know about drinking alcohol in France. This doesn`t surprise me in the least, as the French relationship with food and drink tends to be balanced and moderate. There are people who abuse alcohol in France, but it is interesting to note that, although it ranks first among European countries in terms of per capita wine consumption, it is among those with the lowest rates of alcoholism. Another big difference between alcohol consumption in France and the United States is the age of drinking. As I mentioned earlier, in France, you can drink beer, wine and cider at the age of 16. Then you can drink all the alcohol from the age of 18. When you think of French alcoholic beverages, the first thing that usually comes to mind is wine – whether or not you know the age of alcohol consumption in France. And for good reason! Statistics show that the French generally consume much less alcohol than in previous decades.
But it is difficult to know whether excessive alcohol consumption has decreased significantly or not. It`s no secret that Americans have a somewhat turbulent history with alcohol consumption. From prohibition to the culture of binge drinking to alcohol poisoning, our relationship with alcohol isn`t perfect. But that`s not the only way the drinking culture in France differs from that of the United States. According to the report, in 2016, more than 50% of people in America, Europe and the Western Pacific (Japan, Australia, Oceania) drank alcoholic beverages. For comparison, in 2016, only 32.2% of people in Africa and 33.1% of people in Southeast Asia (India, North Korea, Sri Lanka, etc.) drank. In addition, 94.9% of the inhabitants of the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Iran, Yemen, etc.) abstained from alcohol throughout their lives. Alcohol consumption is illegal in many Eastern Mediterranean countries, at least for Muslims. It is important to remember that if you want to legally buy and consume alcohol in France, you must be 18 years old, or 16 years old if you want to have a drink or two and you are with adults/in a family environment. Now that we`ve talked a bit about the age of alcohol consumption in France and drinking habits, it`s time to talk about the alcohol consumption label.