6th August: Peter and I set off for Arles at une bonne heure. Karil waits in Cabannes for the baby to be collected. Karil says Peter will be a good guide. She’s right: I’ve been to Arles many times but today saw parts of the town that I didn’t know existed. First stop is the Fondation Van Gogh – a brand new gallery which currently boasts work by the artist – including The Yellow House – and other folk who have, allegedly, followed in his footsteps. The gallery is a pleasure. The same cannot be said for all the contents. Peter wishes to bypass one particular set of constructions that remind me of Jack’s bedroom when he was younger. ‘Rubbish’, says Peter the art critic as he barges a way through.
After an excellent lunch, we set a path through ancient back streets that I have never seen before. Morning Glory, in Van Gogh blue, grows prolifically against some of the stone walls. It obviously likes the heat.
We emerge in a part of Arles that is both ancient and new. On the site of the former chariot racing arena stands the unattractive Museum of Antiquities. I have been brought here to find out more about the aqueduct at Fontvielle. There are two models of the mills and news that there would have had to have been a second aqueduct: one could not have served all the demands of Arles. So, a missing end to one aqueduct and another that is entirely missing. The museum is interesting, especially the boat that was found a few years ago. It’s so big, they had to build another extension.
Nothing, however, is in any language other than French and it takes me a long time to both read and understand the pieces I’ve chosen to look at. On the way out, I am asked to participate in a survey. I point out to the child asking the questions that it might be helpful to have an audio handset in a variety of languages. The child asks me how old I am. Soixante-et-un (61) I reply. Soixant-onze (71) queries the child? I hit the child with my programme and demand to know whether I look soixante-onze. There is little to be said. The damage has been done 😦