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1988 to France

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Entente Cordiale
- Encore Une Fois!

Verwood Visits Champtoceaux in 1988

  Report by Angela Daymond written in 1988.  


The Pipe Band of Champtoceaux

The Verwood Twinning Association has just made a second successful visit to Verwood's twin town of Champtoceaux in the Loire Valley . This time there were two coaches - a total of 104 people of whom some could speak fluent French, some a little and some not at all. For some it was their first time abroad, but for everyone it was totally successful, even though a little tiring. The warmth and friendliness of the French people has to be seen to be believed.

The two coaches duly set off from Verwood on Friday 29th April, boarded the night ferry to St. Malo and at the end of a pleasant 4 hour drive through Brittany , arrived at Champtoceaux at midday where the waiting hosts greeted us with wine and biscuits. Then it was off with our hosts to freshen up, have lunch, some relaxation if you were lucky and perhaps some sightseeing.


Le Val Chantant at the evening concert.

At 6.45pm everyone was due at a local centre for the evening event. Unfortunately by then it was raining and so the Ringwood Pipe Band were unable to do their display outside, but coped magnificently, cramped on a stage. They were followed by songs from La Val Chantant, the French Choir which had visited Verwood a year before.

By now it was 8.30pm and the meal commenced. It was midnight before it was finished! There was pate followed by fish in a delicious butter sauce and "seconds" were readily accepted by the 250 people present. The main course was a speciality pork with pineapple and vegetables. That was followed by charlotte russe and coffee all accompanied by plenty of wine. During the meal there had been a variety of entertainment in the form of dancing, music and mime. At midnight it was time to start the dancing. The band was excellent and French and English interchanged partners, especially when one of the pipers provided the music for the Gay Gordons. Hosts and visitors gradually dwindled in numbers as fatigue took over and the dancing finally finished at 3am (apparently!)

L to R - 
Champtoceaux Mayor  - Alain Levoyer:
Chair of Verwood Twinning - Jon Palethorpe:
Chair of Champtoceaux assoc
                    - Danielle Cousseaux.

Sunday was spent "en famille" after a procession from the town centre to name a new street "Avenue de Verwood". The pipe band led the way followed by the Mayor of Champtoceaux, Twinning Committees' Chairpersons, guests with their hosts and the Champtoceaux Band and Majorettes. The main street was decorated with flowers ready for a flower festival and fancy dress which was held in the afternoon. The Avenue de Verwood leads to the public college which is for children aged 11 to 16, so the children of Champtoceaux can't fail to be aware of Verwood. A march along the avenue and a display by the pipe band was followed by a return to the town centre and more wine this time in the garden outside the local museum. The flowers in Champtoceaux are some two to three weeks ahead of ours and there were some delightful displays of wisteria along with the spring flowers we all know and love.  

Colin Campbell from Verwood and  

 Monsieur and Madame Jean Carr.

Jean Carr was the principle French organiser/of the visit.


Eating 'en famille' is so different from home. A different wine is served with each course and cheese is served before dessert. Everyone had different experiences to relate on the journey home which came the following day. There was no doubt that absolutely everyone, from the young teenagers to those of retirement age, had thoroughly enjoyed their visit; made new friends and strengthened old friendships.

Departure time was 8.30 am Monday, or thereabouts! Everyone reluctantly boarded the coaches after a piper played Auld Lang Syne and arms were linked in a last gesture of farewell. It was time to go. Presents exchanged included a collection of items from first school children in Verwood. The Head Teacher of the new Verwood Middle School is aware of the Twinning Association and maybe in due course twinning will be fulfilled with the exchange of our students. There's no doubt that time spent 'en famille' leads to greater understanding of each other and our different languages. The Twinning Committee are to be congratulated on their organisation for this trip and should be encouraged in their continuing activities for entente cordiale.




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