As my mother likes to say, life’s a shit and then you die. Not only that, but many of the things that help mitigate the shit – overeating, drugs, booze, brain-addling TV, tobacco – are likely to make you die sooner rather than later. So the clear-eyed choice is between eking out an existence of miserable and abstemious longevity, and one where the booze, as well as getting you pissed in the short term, bestows the added boon of an early grave.
The detail about de Gaulle's wish to stand out on the Champs-Elysées comes from Jean Lacouture's biography of the general. Futher minor details about de Gaulle's habits in Lacouture's book: that he prepared every speech in front of a mirror (note to Gordon Brown), that he drank a bottle of Graves almost every night, and that he smoked 80 cigarettes every day until he returned to France in June 1944, when he suddenly gave up. It's a completely irrelevant question in relation to the big things such as D-Day, the liberation of France, and everything else that was going on at the time – and perhaps only a smoker would ask it – but why did de Gaulle give up smoking in France in June 1944?