Whatever your views of the Frenchcheese eating surrender monkeys or the fount of all worldly sophistication—they do get some things right as demonstrated by the fact that a hospital in the city of Clermont-Ferrand is opening a wine bar for terminally-ill patients and visiting friends and family.

"The aim is to 're-humanize' patients by improving the quality of their day-to-day existence and also by giving them the pleasure of being able to offer and receive," the head of the center, Virginie Guastella, said. The drink list also includes beer, whisky and champagne, and staff working the bar will receive special training in how to deal with patients, presumably to prevent them from over indulging. If successful, the idea will be rolled out to other hospitals.

Given the sterile atmosphere of most hospitals, it’s a wonderfully civil gesture allowing patients a final bout of joie de vie. Meanwhile my health care compliance sources here tell me that they’ve had discussions about whether a hospital in the U.S. would need a liquor license if a doctor opens a bottle of champagne for a celebrating patient. Not quite the same thing.

The insouciant French attitude to alcohol is coming under attack, though—until recently it was the law that workers could take wine, beer or cider into work for a lunch drink or social gathering. Now the government is allowing employers to forbid their staff from boozing during working hours, another step on the road to total corporate and bureaucratic serfdom.