I don't have the data on this, but I'm guessing that most vacationers headed to La Belle, France are motivated by things like wine, 19th century art and those adorable little brightly colored cookies. If, however, the thought of chasing down French waiters or tramping through yet another famous cemetery fills you with dizzying ennui, here's another reason to see France: next week is Brain Week.
From March 11 through 17, the National Center for Scientific Research and the French Society for Neuroscience will be hosting 300 conferences, workshops, film screenings and even theatrical pieces in 25 cities across the country—all exploring the wonders of le cerveau. (Bonus: A lot of the events look like they'd be pretty fun to watch, hear and smell even if you don't understand a lick of French.)
When Memory Fails: "Have you seen my keys? What was his name again? What did I do last weekend?" Exploring the mechanisms of memory.
Brain and Screen: What are our TVs, computers and smartphones doing to our brains?
Super-Size Me: Oddly, a screening of Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary on fast food
From Odor to the Brain: A chemist from Nice explains the connections between smell and the brain. (Will things get Proustian?)
A Theatrocervical, or Cervotheatrical, Evening, Composed of Two Skulls, Four Hands and 412 bones A two-person experimental theater piece exploring the invisible connections between actor and audience, our capacity to adapt to novelty and surprise, and the "fabulous plasticity of the brain."
Are Emotions Opposed to Reason? A conference poking at the old Pascal adage that "the heart has reasons that reason cannot know."
This Is Your Brain on Food: Perhaps the Frenchiest of all the workshops this week—an eminent neurobiologist and a Michelin-starred chef talk about the brain science of cooking and eating.
Adolescent Binge Drinking: Now a how-to, alas. Rather, a conference on what is apparently a new phenomenon in France.
The Chemistry of Love: OK, maybe this is the Frenchiest of the week's offerings. "Can one control desire? What does it mean to be lovestruck? What makes love last?"
In the Head of a Champion: A screening of Wired to Win, the IMAX documentary about Tour de France cyclists
Hot or Not? The Brain Responds! Beauty and the perception of beauty, as illustrated by a trip to the Musée Fabre
"Animals Have Brains, Too. Sometimes Bizarre Ones!" Enough said.
Sex and the Brain: The origins of sexuality in the animal kingdom, the roots of desire in the brain, the construction of identity around sex
Music in Your Head: This conference will feature, among other things, a synaptical analysis of Top 10 hits.
The Brain is an Open Book: A literary discussion around three themes: addiction (featuring the work of William Burroughs), behavior (featuring Why I Ate My Father, by Roy Lewis), and olfaction and memory (featuring, naturellement, Marcel Proust)
Full details here (a browser like Chrome should be able to translate it for you)