When children could drink wine at school in France

It seems incredible, but not so long ago, children were served wine at school. And not just a little. In fact, each child was allowed half a liter per day! It was only in August 1956 that the French Ministry of Education forbade the serving of any alcoholic beverage in schools for… children under 14 years old only!

Parents are fighting back

Child drinking wine at school
© Le Parisien

This decision was far from obvious at a time when wine was widely consumed in France. Indeed, in a report of March 1956, the national advisory committee of school and university hygiene wrote that “the experience of Montgeron (Essonne)”, where the ban on alcohol was tested in a boarding school, although “very spectacular and convincing”, “could not in the present conditions be extended to all France”. This test should only be a “goal towards which we should aim”.

The resistance is well established, since many parents put in the child’s basket the drink of their choice: wine, cider or beer depending on the region. Doctor Suzanne Serin even tells a particularly striking anecdote. “I recently heard of a small drama in the Paris region. The parents insisted that the children be given something to drink, but the director refused… So they decided that the children would drink their wine before going to school. As a result, the children arrived at school red, sweaty and half asleep all morning.

End of recess

But all good things must come to an end! In 1956, Prime Minister Pierre Mendès passed a law banning alcohol in schools for children under 14. Alcohol will be replaced by… a glass of milk and a lump of sugar at snack time. A decision badly perceived at the time. Indeed, many saw it as a way to revive the French dairy industry and to attract the vote of the latter for Pierre Mendès.

Afterwards, it was not until September 1981 that alcohol was also banned for those over 14 years old in high schools. This second law completes the 1956 law.

PS: Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health.

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