A plentiful breakfast was needed today because we were to be enrolled in a school for young gladiators and what better setting than the Roman amphitheatre in Arles. We learnt to put our blades (no need to panic – we were only given wooden sticks) and shields to good use and, not content with instructing us in French, our gladiator commanded us in Latin! It was good to be forewarned that, should we kill our opponent even accidentally, execution would be the consequence – hopefully this kept the combative element in check….. A good gladiator would have earned the equivalent of twice that earned by a professional footballer today!
We then metamorphosed into professional sportsmen as we were introduced to the 5 main Olympic sports – long jump which involved five consecutive bounds holding bronze weights, javelin complicated by needing to keep hold of a leather propellor, discus throwing whilst holding one’s body with the back to the front, sprinting and a sort of fighting which seemed a mixture of a martial art and wrestling. Great fun!
And finally, 5 volunteers were dressed as Greeks and Romans of their times – not only stylish but had the benefit of being much warmer than their own clothes! After a chilly picnic, an opportunity for a ‘chocolate chaud’ was very welcome and provided more speaking practice – no problems with ordering anything now!
And finally, a guided tour opened our eyes to the charms of Arles – a Roman theatre, Roman baths, the river Rhône, beautiful churches, van Gogh’s famous café and much else – and some of us even managed to squeeze in a little more shopping.
Back to school, and then home for our last evening en famille. Sadly the time has come to ‘faire les valises’.