France has totally astounded me with its trust in common sense that was shown the door in Britain years ago.
Bordeaux has a high current river flowing through it, the Garonne, with an ever changing tide which in several places doesn’t even have a barrier.
In La Rochelle, a beautiful seaside town further north of Bordeaux, boats are docked in a bay surrounded by cafes and restaurants. The grey stone of the quay is met by a sheer drop straight into the water.
There are no safety precautions in sight. No bright red life jackets or floats nearby to throw in in case of emergency. Just good old fashioned trust.
This is all coming to an end though as French adolescents are finally beginning to accept and embrace a culture that we welcomed a long time ago.
The very serious but not at all surprising result of these two elements colliding is the deaths of three students in Bordeaux as they drank near the quay.
The first guy went missing after an attempted night out at the IBoat (a club that’s a boat). I say attempted night out as he’d had a few too many and was turned away at the door. He left unaccompanied and was found washed up in the Garonne a few days later.
One student is still missing but is being assumed to have met the same fate. The third victim’s body was pulled from the river at the end of March.
As if death by drowning wasn’t already a horrible way to go, if you do drink by the quay, you will see a line of men pissing into the Garonne with their beer in one hand and their dick in the other. Two shakes and back to their circle of mates.
I’m surprised binge drinking hasn’t become a problem in Bordeaux before now. France already has a strong cultural relationship with alcohol, with wine being part of daily life but drinking hours in pubs and clubs make booze even more accessible than the Garonne.
Happy hour still exists here and can last up to four hours in some pubs. Really, all this does is drop the prices of alcohol to a reasonable level as the price for a pint is considerably higher here. As we know though, the problem wasn’t so much the drop in price but the last minute dash before the bell rings to get in a few extra, happier beers. If happy hour is from 6pm to 8pm, at 8pm you’re likely to see tables with four people round them but 12 pints lined up… and you don’t want them to get flat…
Pubs are open until about 2am so even when you pop out for a few mid-week beers there is always the possibility of it turning into a wild one and if you do plan on going to a club they won’t kick you out until 6am. This has led to a few mornings where I can hear my landlady having breakfast when I get home.
Alain Juppé, the Mayor of Bordeaux, is in talks with the fire department about how best to tighten up safety regulations around the river. One solution being discussed is a full ban on public drinking. They are also considering increasing the number and intensity of lights along the docks while adding surveillance cameras and emergency telephones.
Strangely there is still no talk of a barrier!
By Claire Alexanderdocument.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);