France Struggles to Cope with Youth Binge Drinking

The alcohol-related death of a young attendee at a viral public-drinking party has left France to confront its growing problem with binge drinking, the Guardian reported May 14.

A 21-year-old attending a “giant aperitif” party in Nantes fell off a bridge after consuming 10 to 15 drinks; he later died. The party and resulting tragedy have focused public attention on drinking behavior that strays outside the classic Gallic norm of a glass of wine over dinner.

Up to 10,000 people showed up in Nantes to drink heavily and publicly in a party organized via Facebook. Similar events also have been held in the cities of Montpellier, Brest, and Rennes. “We cannot just let this go,” said Nantes mayor Jean-Marc Ayrault. “They are putting people’s lives in danger. It’s dreadful. I think this phenomenon has to stop. There’s nothing celebratory about it; it’s rather squalid.”

Radio commentator Eric Zemmour said that the giant aperitifs represented “mass adaptations of English-style binge drinking.” Another of the parties is scheduled for May 23 under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower; a crowd of 50,000 is expected.

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