Visit to France - 8th to 12th April 2017
Want a fabulous long weekend ?
· Families welcome for our next trip to Normandy in 2017
Sat 8th April - Door to door travel from Kingsteignton
· 8th to 12th April - cultural exchange hosted by French families
· INCLUDING.. ..banquet dinner - excursion - free-day
· · approx. £120 per adult and just £60 per under-16.
WHAT IS TWINNING?
Twinning is a special relationship between two countries, which is sealed by the signing of a charter. This concept was extended after the Second World War when a conscious effort was made to rebuild friendships especially in Europe.
Devon is twinned with the Calvados region of Normandy in France and in 1979 Kingsteignton was twinned with Orbec and La Vespiére. During our twinning visits strong friendships can be made. A real flavour of French culture can be experienced whilst being welcomed into the homes of our hosts.
WHAT DO WE DO?
A visit of 4 or 5 days is made every year. One year we go to Orbec and the following year our friends come to Kingsteignton. Travel is normally by Coach and ferry between Portsmouth and Caen. Twinners enjoy a mixture of time 'en famille' and excursions as a whole party, including a full sight-seeing day and a dinner.
VISITING IN 2015
34 Kingsteignton Twinners boarded-the-bus for this year’s visit to France– to be joined by 6 others who travelled independently. After a fairly calm channel-crossing the French skies opened with lashing rain and a spectacular lightning show. The children stopped counting after 100 flashes with simultaneous thunder and floods. The coach aqua-planed into Orbec around midnight to find dry roads and smiling French faces.
This year’s visit had a ‘Remembrance’ theme as it coincided with a number of notable military anniversaries. It was; 70 years since D-Day, 75 years since Dunkirk , and our first visit to France since the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.
Day 1: With prior-agreement, Kingsteignton Twinners joined with both French Towns to lay wreaths at the Cenotaphs of La Vespierre and Orbec respectively. The French provided an excellent trumpet player to mark the occasion with fanfare and then two national anthems. Both nations joined in the ceremonies with reverence and gusto in equal measure. Finally, eloquent speeches were exchanged and good-health toasted in the Town Hall – all photographed and reported in the local press!
That afternoon some Twinners joined a Medieval Re-enactment display and play on the usually out-of-bounds Motte Féodale! This was a marvellous-mix of fun-and-fighting with activities ranging fromfull armour combat to heraldic-art. The locals were especially impressed with the venue as it provides a hitherto inaccessible vantage point over the whole town.
Day 2: This proved to be a comparatively relaxing day with a group visit to the exquisite Chateau Vendeuvre. Unchanged in décor and furnishings I since the mid 18th century, it was a picture of French Classic architecture and grandeur. We were greeted at the formal front-lawns by non other than the 9th Earl himself who modestly claimed responsibility only for the gardens – the house having been handed down a generation. Each room was laid out fully-furnished as though the previous user had just popped out. The Kitchen was faithfully preserved as a sensory experience with the smell of the spices available at the time. The gift-shop was humbly hidden away in the old scullery.
A second building housed a museum-of-miniatures with the finest examples of classic French furniture would have made any dolls-house price-less.
The unexpected treasure were ‘les Jardins Exotique’. These were mischievously laid out with horticultural-oddities at every twist-and-turn. From maze to grotto.. ..via bridges and hedge-tunnels – the children really enjoyed losing and finding themselves time and again.
With perfect timing, as the rain-came-again, we were ushered into a restaurant which was curiously hidden in plain-sight. There, we were treated to a sumptuous banquet of French cuisine - all washed down with fine-wine and topped off with a nip of Calvados.
Day 3: This was spent ‘en famille’ – (rest for some, and laser-quest followed by BBQ-banquet for others)… …the planned visit to the Normandy Landing Beaches required an early-start!
Day 4: The D-Day excursion was planned with fitting military precision. Focussing on the British efforts, one hour North of Orbec our day started [broadly as did D-Day itself] at the Merville Battery. Although cold and windy, our discomfort paled in comparison to the stories of bravery and suffering that unfolded on that day 70 years earlier. Few would be un-moved by the accounts, especially being told in their original setting. It was particularly heartening to see ALL nationalities taking the opportunity to learn the lessons of history.
Then, we went to Pegasus Bridge. Again, the courage and fortitude of the attacking force left one open-mouthed with admiration and humility. The strategic importance of this became evident with the help of the excellent museum and facility alongside. One of the Kingsteignton Twinners added a special dimension as he recalled using the same guns in his post-war National Service.
Afterwards, Twinners split into two parties choosing between; additional museum-visit, or coach-tour - before coming together again for a trip to Arromanches. Here, we were able to climb on the Mulberry Harbour remains to get a feel for the scale of D-Day operations. Finally, we all climbed up the hill to the 360 degree cinema. This wrapped up the days visit setting everything we had seen in the context of the wider efforts of all the allied forces. It was such a powerful and emotional experience.
Day 5: Finally, after four-days of fun, frolics, fables and fromage – we kissed our good-byes and climbed wearily onto the coach for our return journey… …. Le Jumelage 2015 - A remembrance to remember!
HOSTING IN 2014
At the end of July we welcomed nearly 50 people of all ages from our twin towns in Normandy, for the 35th anniversary of the signing of the charter in 1979. Having arrived mid-morning on Saturday 26th, many went to Oakford lawn in the afternoon to participate or watch the games, followed by a cream tea and presentation of “medals” at the British Legion.
The following day a reception with speeches in French and English took place at the Passage House Hotel, when every French family was given a specially made apple-shaped paper weight, with swirls of red, white and blue…the apple being an important crop in both Devon and Normandy. After a dinner, the evening was completed with a most enjoyable Ceilidh, with bi-lingual caller!
Monday 28th brought good weather and an early start for a day out in Bristol, with its French connections…as Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s father was French. One group chose to visit @ Bristol, while the rest Brunel’s famous ship the ss Great Britain, before taking the ferry to the centre and lunch all together. Later some returned to @ Bristol, or explored independently; some joined a group on a guided walk of the main sights, with notes given in French, and a small group walked to the cathedral. On the way back there was an opportunity to marvel at Brunel’s magnificent suspension bridge….from below, and then from above, before heading back to Kingsteignton.
Tuesday was a more tranquil day with families, with the option of gathering in the evening to watch the Raddon Hill Dancers at Dornafield caravan park, and then repairing to a nearby hostelry. Some opted to spend the evening sharing a meal with others.
Wednesday morning saw the prompt departure of our friends, suitably supplied with food for the journey, and with sad goodbyes mingled with promises of “See you next year!” One of our most successful visits.
ANSWERS to FAQs
· Twinning is open to individuals, couples and families.
· You do not need to live in Kingsteignton to join.
· You do not have to speak French - but will enjoy it more if you try.
· You do not have to host if you join. There are many other ways to join in.
· Twinners cover the cost of our own travel expenses, which are kept low by travelling as a group.
Various social and fund-raising events are held throughout the year. These include quizzes, picnics, coffee-mornings and skittles-evenings. Fund-raising is essential to ensure a warm welcome when hosting and entertaining our Orbec and La Vespiére friends
Regional gastronomic specialities include:
Cider, Calvados, Camenbert, Tarte aux pommes, patisseries.
More adventurous twinners have sampled Escargot, Tripe and Enduilettes.
Regional places of interest include:
Paris, D-Day landing beaches, Bayeux tapestry, Monet's garden, Versailles, Rouen and Honfleur.
For more information, please :
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01626 360970 or 368496
Come and join us!
Membership of KOTA costs £10 a year per adult. Children join for free.
email@example.com for all KOTA enquiries