This year it was our turn to visit our French Twinning partners over the Spring Bank Holiday. 50 Upper Culm residents enjoyed a weekend of French hospitality.
We left Hemyock on Thursday evening for the overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff arriving in France at around 8a.m. After a short drive we reached Morlaix where we stopped for breakfast. A two hour stop allowed people to indulge in croissants and coffee and to explore the town before setting off on our journey south towards our destination in the Loire Valley.
We reached the city of Rennes at lunch time. Another stopover allowed us time to seek out a suitable hostelry for lunch or just to wander the streets of the picturesque city centre.
Our hosts had arranged a traditional welcome reception at the community hall in the village of La Roche Blanche. Thanks to our driver, John of Redwoods, we arrived on time and were served with a spectacular brioche accompanied by local wine. After short welcoming speeches everyone met up with their host families and then dispersed to spend the evening with them.
The following morning we all met up for a trip to the coastal region to the west of Nantes. Unfortunately the weather was dismal. Wet and cold. Our first scheduled visit was to be a boat trip on the salt marshes. The increasingly heavy rain meant that the boat trip had to be cancelled and our hosts rapidly rearranged our itinerary. A local guide boarded our coach and gave us a short talk and tour of the area before we set off for the marine aquarium at Croisic, a seaside resort near La Baule. After the visit to the aquarium we were able to spend some time exploring the resort.
On Saturday evening and on Sunday during the day we enjoyed the hospitality of our host families. A wide variety of activities had been laid on for us. For example, some of us were taken to Nantes, others went to local markets and sporting events.
In the evening, we all met up again at the community hall at La Roche Blanche for a celebration dinner with traditional music and dancing.
Our return journey on Monday was via Cherbourg and Portsmouth. On the way to Cherbourg we stopped for lunch at the lovely town of Avranche before heading for the Hypermarket for the essential retail experience. Despite the adverse exchange rate, there were several heavily laden trolleys of food and wine loaded into the coach. Later, some of us discovered that the best bargain to be had was a case of red wine purchased on the ferry. One of our group had a corkscrew handy and most of the case failed to make it back to Hemyock!
A good time was had by all and we look forward to welcoming the French on their visit to us next Spring.