How many readers have considered the joys of nothing? By that, I do not mean
sitting before the television screen as a combination of Judge Rinder and
Emmerdale slowly reduces your intellect to a level somewhere below a traffic
bollard. No, my vision is relaxing in the grounds of the Chateau as various kind
souls deliver a supply of Citron presses and paperback copies of Maigret to my
table. It would be the closest one could approach to being a Roman emperor,
albeit not Caligula. Or Nero.

The reason for this sense of fatigue is having recently taken part in a graduation
ceremony. This involves donning an outfit that made me resemble a spiv in a
1960s B-feature adopting the disguise of a prep school teacher. To my surprise, I
recently learned that such events are not part of French university life, although
there are apparently unofficial ceremonies for Masters graduates.

So, if you have the misfortune to have missed your graduation ceremony due to
unavoidable circumstances, why not stage your own ad hoc ceremony at the
Chateau? This is by no means a flippant suggestion; your friends and family
will be there, the dining room is exquisite, and you can make speeches as long
or short as you please. And I would also venture to suggest that a poolside
barbeque featuring the very best of local produce is probably superior to most
British university catering. Nor is the choice of the region’s wines entirely to be

Alternatively, you could follow the advice of Sir Ray Davies, and laze on a
summer’s afternoon, diploma framed at the foot of your sun lounger. But now there is a Coronation Party to plan – more of which anon…