...or old wine in a new bottle.
The past few years have seen a slew of articles in the travel sections of newspapers describing the "renaissance" of the city of Bordeaux. Since their offerings all seem to come out sounding more than a little formulaic in any case, I'd like to save future visiting journalists the trouble of actually leaving their hotel rooms before dusk, by providing this short guide to writing an article about Bordeaux.
1. Think of as many wine puns as possible and attempt to include them all — there should be at least one in your title. Here are a few that have already been used : "Bordeaux uncorks itself", "a richer Bordeaux", "Tasting Notes", "Bordeaux is smooth and elegant", "an intoxicating mix".
2. Get in at least one mention of Bordeaux's moniker la belle endormie. Then suggest that the city has now been awoken.
3. Exaggerate the rags to riches angle out of all proportion. Persuade some "anonymous residents" to describe a nightmarish past with phrases such as "I remember [when] ... nobody would go out after dark. We all stayed among ourselves. But now ...." or "Not long ago, such public joie de vivre would have been unthinkable here." Don't raise the possibility that this might be utter bollocks.
4. You don't have to go looking for any hidden signs of urban renewal - just use the tram system as a symbol of the new Bordeaux. Say it's clean, sleek, and modern. If you like you can even add some spurious comment about it being a great social leveller.
5. Suggested adjectives for the Bordeaux of old: seedy, dowdy, staid, grimy, lifeless, bland. Suggested adjectives for new improved Bordeaux: stellar, futuristic, upscale, sparkling, elegant, transformed.
6. Refer liberally to "les Bordelais" but only really mean the richest 2% who come from old wine money.
7. Portray the mayor of Bordeaux as a man with a driving vision. Do not under any circumstances mention his political purgatory or the fact that he was rewarded for his visionary town-planning by not being elected as the Bordeaux constituency MP.
8. Illustration: use a subtly symbolic image of young people frolicking in the miroir d'eau with the tram whizzing towards a promising future in the background.
9. Spend all of your travelling expenses on food and wine in Bordeaux's excellent restaurants and pad the rest of the article out with your tasting notes.
10. For variations on the theme see: The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Independent, The Guardian, le Courrier International (translated from the Sunday Times).