So, the French are cultivating their own binge-drinking problem, are they? And Nicholas Sarkozy is their president now? Coincidence, non?
Come to think of it, the cosy myth held by the British middle classes that the inhabitants of southern European countries are much 'better' drinkers than us shivering Celts, Angles, Vikings and Teutons overlooks several factors:
1 - You're more likely to see a French family drinking sensibly with a meal if your primary point of encounter with French families is in family restaurants.
2 - The French, Italians and Spanish make vast quantities of 'transcendent' wine and, now I come to think of it, some pretty fine beer as well. One suspects that they don't merely do this to feed the appetites of the English and Germans.
3 - Walk down a street in any large French town after seven in the evening. You will see drunk people.
It seems to me to be true that the culture of drinking is different over there - no 'six shots for a pound' style offers, fewer huge gangs of lads spending all weekend between the bar and the toilet cubicles (though I have noticed this a few times in Spain) - but that doesn't mean that Europeans don't get drunk, or that they only let themselves go a bit in idyllic mealtime settings with with their entire family in an olive grove.
Oh, I've just remembered. What about all the binge-drinking scenes in Emile Zola's novels?