The president, Agnes Carriget, welcomed the 49-strong English contingent at the official ceremony of the joining together of the two communities. The Chairman of the Parish Council, Heather Stallard and the Chairman of the Twinning Association, Brian Clist, recalled the history of the friendship during the last 10 years. 200 persons took part in the ceremony where it was confirmed that the engagement should now become an official marriage. The Mayor, Gerard Barrier, together with Eric Lucas, Laurent Mercier, Paul Martin, Heather Stallard and Bill Smith (representing Clayhidon) and Brian Clist, together with Agnes Carroget signed the charter. The charter is to:-
- Promote the friendship between the villages.
- To actively assist groups wishing to make contact or make visits to and from the villages.
- To widen the understanding of both English and the French way of life and countryside by arranging social, cultural, sporting and educational activities.
- To organise linguistic exchanges of adults and young people, also to consider any further friendship links.
- To promote business links between our respective local areas.
Diary of the visit.
We started our Twinning visit with an overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff arriving at 8-00am on the Thursday morning. Our first stop was for a pre-arranged “Brunch” at St. Brieuc at the Hotel Duguesclin, where we enjoyed fruit juices various, coffee and tea, hot omelettes, various cold meats and pastries. After a two hour break we continued on our way to keep an afternoon appointment. The party had a guided tour around a chocolate factory, preceded by a video, followed by demonstrations of the manufacture of the very high quality hand made chocolates. Pictures available on the village web site.
Friday morning we departed for Angers to visit the chateau dating from 1230. There the Apocalypse Tapestries were on display, made in the 14th century for Duke Louis of Anjou. These illustrate the visions of St. John from the Book of Revelations. In the turmoil of the French Revolution, the tapestries were cut up and used for everything from horse blankets to bed canopies. Restoration began in the 19th century. The surviving section stretches for 103 meters. The front and back are almost mirror-images such was the skill of the weaving. The Apocalypse Tapestry is the longest tapestry in the world and was woven between 1373 and 1382. After a visit of several hours some people left to see the Cathedral and city centre. This was followed by a picnic on the banks of the Loire at “Fresne sur Loire”. Later in the after noon after much food and a little imbibing, we travelled on to Ancenis to visit the “Manitou” factory, which lasted about two hours. We saw the whole manufacturing process from large lumps of plate steel to the final safety checks, which are carried out on each vehicle manufactured. The evening was spent with the families with most of us having another meal and sampling some of the local produce.
Saturday morning, we were split up into groups and visited six of the local primary schools. Yes, in France some children go to school on a Saturday morning! It was wonderful to meet the children who had prepared all manner of things to entertain us. They sang songs in English and some of our parties were presented with gifts. Lunch followed this event.
In the afternoon we all assembled in one of the two large village halls. The proceedings started with the local traditional Breton Dance group performing several dances. This was followed by various speeches and presentation of gifts. It was quite a surprise when we discovered that we had both chosen to give paintings of our respective areas. We even had an impromptu speech, in English and French, from the Walheim Twinning Association (German group Twinned with Jumelage des Grees) representative, together with a gift for the Twinning Association committee, presented to our chairman. After the formal part of the proceedings a tree was planted in the local public gardens in celebration of the event.
After an hours break at our respective hosts we all returned to the hall again for a dance and more refreshments, during which time we were entertained by a choral group made up from the French Twinners. This was followed by a nearly impromptu few songs by the English contingent, ably led by Ron White and his accordion.
Sunday was a free morning with the hosts. We personally, had a farm visit where we viewed some 20 hectares of fruit, apples and pears, saw some of the 140 hectares of arable land as well as some beautiful “Bull Beef” cattle and a suckler heard of pedigree Charolet. This was followed by a visit to the parents of our hosts friends for an aperitif followed by a BBQ of a large rib of Charolet beef. After lunch there was a walk arranged along the banks of the Loire near Anetz for the whole party. Followed by a visit to a “Très” modern dairy farm, which would be very impressive to our English farmers. This was supposed to be followed by a picnic on the banks of the Loire, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas, so the venue was moved indoors where we all had yet another wonderful meal of cold meats and salads followed by cheese and various deserts.
Monday morning arrived only too soon and after a lot of farewells. The coach departed for our return trip home via Roscoff. Our transport was superb, many thanks to “Redwoods Travel” and in particular Kelvin our driver.
Mike Eastick Secretary