Bordeaux is one of the loveliest and most architecturally consistent 18th century towns in Europe. There is otherwise little to see here. The restaurants you find are amazingly good, but there are fewer than one might expect. Only the immigrants keep their shops open on Sunday. The town feels oddlly empty on all days. The professors give the graduate assistants knives and expect them to peel the white asparagus for dinner. That is how it should be. Michel Houllebecq’s Possibility of an Island is available here (but not yet in the U.S.) in English; he is France’s most vital current author. The wines are wasted on me but the raw oysters are not. I saw Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinettte in the local multiplex. You would not expect a mix of Kirsten Dunst, indie rock, and the Versailles Palace to be a winner, but this is a beautiful and quite fantastic film; a must-see on the big screen. Imagine a combination of Clueless, Peter Greenaway, and Lost in Translation. The city of Bordeaux would be wonderful and charming as France’s ninth largest city. But it is the fifth largest, which makes me wonder where all this is headed.
And now for something completely different, here is Bryan Caplan’s class autobiography. Mine would involve lots of sports, a mother who brought me to chess tournaments, a father who didn’t believe in college, and a grandmother who loved Victor Hugo and Shakespeare.