French booze less but spend more on alcohol

French drinking habits are changing according to a new study that revealed the health conscious nation is drinking less in quantity but more of quality.

French booze less but spend more on alcohol
The French are boozing less but opting for higher quality alcohol. Photo: Shutterstock

Is there a country that can boast a greater array of alcoholic tipples than France?

Whether it’s Bordeaux wine, Champagne from Champagne, Normandy cider, beers and spirits from Cognac to Cointreau, France has a bulging drinks cabinet.

But the locals it seems are drinking less and less, according to an industry survey published this week.

Indeed the level of consumption of alcoholic drinks has fallen over a lengthy period.

“In six years the French have reduced their annual purchases of alcoholic drinks by 2.3 litres per person to the level of 73.2 litres per year in 2014,” read the survey by Enterprise and Prevention.

But that doesn’t mean the French are saving those pennies and spending them elsewhere. They survey revealed that the priority of quality over quantity is taking hold.

“Over a few years the trend has been confirmed: The French are paying more attention to the health. They put emphasis on the quality over quantity and no longer drink everyday, whether its wine, spirits or beer and they do so more in an occasional way, whether it’s festive or convivial,” said Alexis Capitant the head of Enterprise and Prevention.

A recent Ifop poll backs this up with only 12 percent of those surveyed saying they drink everyday compared to 15 percent in 2010.

The trend has been noticed particularly when it comes to beer with consumers preferring speciality beers over the run of the mill lager or “blonde” as it’s called in France.

The figures also revealed the French are drinking less wine than they used to and they are also drinking less in cafes, bars and restaurants.

Nevertheless the figures that show an overall drop in alcohol consumption should not hide another change in French drinking habits – that of binge-drinking among young people, which has taken hold in recent years.

A survey by French health agency INVS earlier this summer revealed that alcohol was the cause of 49,000 premature deaths in France last year and was responsible for 580,000 hospital admissions.

Earlier this year France’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the country had to take a leaf out of the UK’s book and place more emphasis on preventative health care.

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France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.