Music Trip to Les Herbiers: April 2024

The following is a Photographic and Video record of our very successful visit to Les Herbiers for the April Music Exchange 2024.

Our much awaited return to Les Herbiers for the Exchange Music festival came at last in April 2024 after much delay due to Covid causing our initial 2020 visit to be delayed until 2024.

We were joined by Gloria’s Gang a fantastic youth choir from Llanfyllin in the North of Montgomeryshire,

Newtown Silver Band:


and Monty Folk:

Wednesday 3rd April:

  1. Newtown Twinning Association having a well earned coffee on board the P&O Liberte new ferry boat crossing Dover Calais on Wednesday morning 3rd April. The Silver Band had a group photo on board the Liberte.
  1. On our way down through France on Wednesday 3rd April we took our longest stop at Rouen service station and Gloria’s Gang had the opportunity to sing and use the station piano!

  1. We arrived in Les Herbiers at 6.00pm at the Herbauges, to be welcomed by the Committee de Jumelage and all our wonderful hosts before we were taken home for our evening meal.

Thursday 4th April:

  1. At 8.45am we all attended a Welcome Breakfast arranged by the Mayor of Les Herbiers in the Mairie. We were treated to a presentation about Les Herbiers and region with the 7 Towns in the Pays des Herbiers.  Kate our Chairperson also received a gift from the Mayor of Les Herbiers for Newtown Town Council; Kate accepted two prints containing stylised images representing the 8 towns of the Pays des Herbiers.
  1. Morning and early afternoon a coach and walking tour of Les Herbiers was kindly arranged with guides and translations and a welcome picnic lunch provided by Les Herbiers Twinning. One of the first visits was to Abbaye de La Grainetiere, a Monastery with a small commune of 12 monks.  The abbey has existed since 1130 and has a very interesting and chequered history.
  1. We also visited the emotive and iconic beautiful Mont des Alouettes on the edge of Swiss Vendée which is a hill near Les Herbiers the highest point in the Vendée. In the 16th century, no less than seven windmills were built on this hill. Today there are three left, one of which is still running.  During the war in the Vendée (a counter-revolution from 1793 to 1796 in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution) the movement of the opposing troops were measured from the wind mills blades.  Mont des Alouettes was the finish of the first stage of the 2011 Tour de France.
  1. During our walking tour of Les Herbiers we were very pleased to see the excellent and very entertaining murals on buildings throughout the town! An excellent idea to record the history and activities within the town.  The car mural is to commemorate the Garage that once operated from the site in the centre of the town for its efforts in helping people during the German occupation of France during the Second World War!
  1. Also on our walking tour of Les Herbiers we enjoyed a guided tour of The Jardin de Coria named after the Spanish twin town which contains the street Rue de Newtown along with many other fascinating features and buildings such as the Salle du Lavoir and its fascinating art, Château des Herbiers (Château Bousseau), some interesting sculptures and beautiful gardens with interesting trees such as the Judas tree, Cercis Siliquasrtum.
  1. A short walk took us to the Mairie Les Herbiers and gardens, an architectural fusion of old and new. This construction is magnificent; it looks like a glass musical organ!  How to combine modern with ancient!  Inside, it is neutral, no sign of belonging, thus representing the Republic.  Everything well designed and spacious.
  1. We had the opportunity to have a guided tour of the Ecole de Music, Tour des art Les Herbiers. Bruno the Director showed all the amazing facilities and many instruments. A recording studio, theatre, dance studios and many practice suites.  The building is clad in copper and the internal construction is cast concrete with lots of expensive sound dampening.
  1. Thursday afternoon we all visited the new Grand Lux Multiplexe Cinéma Les Herbiers, another amazing construction built over an old farm building with the shell and roof of the old building encapsulated in the modern Cinema construction and now used as the Café of the cinema. It was in the Café that Monty Folk, Ffonic, and the Silver Band performed for cinema goers.  Glorias Gang gave a performance on the main cinema stage prior to the showing of ‘Brassed Off’.  The audience were encouraged to put questions to the Twinning Committee relating to social and political issues evident in the movie.

Videos in Grand Lux:

Friday 5th April:

  1. In the morning we all Visited Clission in the Loire-Atlantique department, just NE of Les Herbiers in the region of Pays de la Loire. Clisson has imposing ruins, parts of which date from the thirteenth century and a beautiful Medieval Market Hall. Many of our party had the opportunity to sample snails and to appreciate the amazing diversity in an excellent French classic market.  The town and castle, the château de Clisson, were destroyed in 1792 and 1793 during the War in the Vendée.  Later the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot (of Villa Lamot) bought the castle, and the town was rebuilt in the early part of the 19th century according to his plans in a Tusca style. There are picturesque parks on the banks of the two rivers. The River Moine is crossed by an old gothic bridge and by a fine modern viaduct.
  1. After our visit to Clisson we visited L’Epinay Vineyard, where we were treated to a guided tour of the vines and the vineyard cumulating in a wine tasting of three different aged Muscadet wines, the Loire in this area is famous for its Muscadet wines. Obviously a very successful visit as much wine was purchased.
  1. While some of us were visiting L’Epinay some of our younger members were visiting the Hellfest Site, Hellfest Summer Openair! A Rock festival site focusing on extreme Heavy Metal Music held annually in June just outside Clisson.
  1. On Friday afternoon we were all very pleased to attend another performance of Monty Folk, Ffonic and Glorias Gang in Place du Marche at the Barbtruc. We were very fortunate as the weather this afternoon was excellent and the locals really enjoyed the performances while relaxing on a Friday afternoon in the bar and catching up with friends.

Videos at Barbtruc:

  1. Friday evening we were all taken by our hosts to Mouchamps, a town in the Pay des Herbiers to enjoy a grand Gala Dinner held in Les Nympheas hall. We experienced an excellent three course meal with aperitif for all Welsh visitors, hosts and organisers with well over 200 people attending. The meal was enhanced by the three different performances provided by The Silver Band, Glorias Gang and Ffonic with Monty Folk who ended the evening with a Ceilidh which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.   Georges Clemenceau a famous President of France was born near Mouchamps and was a long-time friend and supporter of the impressionist painter Claude Monet.  The venue for our Gala Dinner named after Monet’s famous work of art and a certain connection with Gregynog Hall Newtown and the Davies Sisters, collectors of Impressionist paintings!   The grave of Clemenceau is also to be found in

Videos at the Gala Dinner:

Saturday 6th April:

  1. Saturday morning brought a lazy but very enjoyable visit to Les Herbiers Covered Market, a great opportunity for many to enjoy Oysters and white wine for the first time while being entertained by our travelling Folk group who entertained the people of Les Herbiers while they did their Saturday morning shopping and socialising.

Videos at the Market:

  1. Saturday afternoon we all arrived at the Theatre Pierre Barouh Les Herbiers for the Grand Gala Concert. All the musical parties musicians from La Tour des Arts, Newtown Silver Band, Glorias Gang, Ffonic and Monty Folk along with Fenn from our Twinning party gave a special performance and then to finish the concert they all came together to perform Sibelius’s Finlandia which was conducted by Director Bruno Yviquel (Director of Tour des art Les Herbiers). The audience demanded a encore and this ended a fantastic evening of music and a wonderful ending to the Music Exchange visit.

We all returned home with families to talk about the experience and enjoy or final meal with our fabulous hosts before we left Les Herbiers at 6.00am Sunday morning!

Videos at the Gala Concert:

Thank you letters to all who joined us on the visit to Les Herbiers from Newtown Twinning Association:


Message for all Visit Participants from Kate – NTA Chair

An enormous thank you to you all for the amazing Music Visit to Les Herbiers. It was a tremendous success all round, due to the wonderful hard work which everyone put in to make it all work together. Everyone was so determined to do their very best and all of you entered into the spirit of the trip, making every effort to communicate the best way possible and enjoying the food and wine (and cocktails!) and soaking up the culture and the atmosphere. The music and singing was outstanding. Was so very proud of you all! Big thank you to Geoff and Gloria and especially to Robin for all his work liaising with Bruno. It all went so quickly that it’s hard to believe it’s all over. I hope we can meet up together for a performance some time later this year. Very best regards to you all and heartfelt thanks.


Message to all who attended the visit from NTA Secretary:

Dear all,

Please can I take this opportunity to thank everybody who travelled with us to Les Herbiers for our return Music Exchange.  As you know it was an amazing exchange with lots to see and do, with great hosts and in a beautiful area of France.  An extra special thanks to all the musicians and choir members who entertained all of us and the people of Les Herbiers with your outstanding performances, something to remember for a very long time.

The success of this exchange is due in the main to the people who travel with us, along with those who took part, you were all fantastic.

We were particularly impressed by all the youngsters on our trip and their willingness to wholeheartedly embrace a different culture, food and language.  You were all great ambassadors for Montgomeryshire and Newtown and I’m certain you have made some great new friends.  It’s what Twinning is all about!

We don’t want to lose touch with any of you, so if you would like to keep in touch with what we do and all our activities and visits in the future then we can add you to our mailing list.  Many of you are already on our mailing list but If you don’t want to be added then please contact to let us know.

We will be in touch with all of you soon regarding a proposal that was briefly discussed by a number of people during the visit.  We are hoping to arrange a repeat concert in Montgomeryshire and an opportunity for the people of Montgomeryshire to listen to what we all experienced in Les Herbiers!

We will be in touch again soon when memories, photos and videos have been added to our website for future reference, so you can revisit the event!  Regarding videos and photos, again if you don’t want to appear in photos or videos on our website then please contact to let us know.




Thank you letters from people who enjoyed their visit to Les Herbiers for the music exchange 2024:

Hi Andrew

Thanks very much. It really was an amazing experience and yes, we certainly have made new friends , even more people there to keep in touch with !


Annwyl Andrew.
Thank you for your email .
What an amazing time we all had in France  such an experience for the young people , great to see them all growing in confidence through our time there .
I will never forget their faces when they heard the orchestra for the first time !’  Tremendous !
The hosts and all were so welcoming and lovely .
It was lovely meeting the other groups . We all loved dancing to the Monty groups . Please pass on my thanks to Will and Clare especially for all their help .
Diolch o galon
Thank you so much for the opportunity that you gave Glo’s Gang .
Hwyl a Diolch

Thanks for all the hard work that must have been behind the trip.

It was wonderful, enjoyable and inspiring.

John and Sharon.

Hi Andrew,

Just a quick line to echo John’s thank you email.

The trip was thoroughly enjoyable and we really did have a great time.

The highlight for me was the Saturday concert.

How wonderful that all of the musicians and choir could perform together like that!

C’est magnifique!

Our lovely hosts enjoyed it thoroughly too.

Best wishes



Would be brilliant to welcome people here next year –

and for Montgomeryshire people to see how great the Les H musicians are!


Dear Andrew

Just a quick note to thank you for giving us the opportunity to join you on the twinning trip. Myself and the girls really enjoyed it and made lots of memories.


Sarah, Ffion and Lowri

Hi Sarah,

I can honestly say that it was our pleasure to take all the girls and the gang.  We were very impressed with your girls and the maturity they demonstrated throughout the visit.  You must be very proud of all of them.

Keep us posted on all their performances in future as we would love to support them in any way we can.

Diolch yn fawr


Thank you Kate

It was a fabulous trip and I’d like to thank you and all the Committee for making it happen.

It was lovely to meet you and chat on the coach on the way back too. So many connections!

Best wishes


Hi Kate, Thanks for this message.  It really was an amazing experience – well organised, friendly. fun. Everybody benefited in so many ways.

Merci beaucoup ,  Ruth x.

Dear Kate

I would love to tell you a big thank you one more time for this an amazing opportunity.

I am great appreciate all you have done for me and Sola.

Guy asked me to write my feelings like an article.

I wrote an article- report.

But I am not a musician and I don’t know all the facts about this trip . So if you would like to use it, please, check the details, please Xx

Town, people, travel and music that you can’t help but fall in love with. The small town of Les Herbiers in the west of France welcomed us with brioche, delicious wine, cheeses, friendly people, air saturated with warmth and the aroma of blooming European trees. We brought from the UK 11 Folk Group musicians, 16 Newtown Silver Band musicians, 27 girls and 1 boy from the Gloria’s Gang choir, 14 people from the support group and the annoying British rain.

My eleven-year-old daughter and I were placed with the incredible Guy and Armelle Trichot. The morning began with fragrant croissants, jam, coffee in a bowl and pleasant conversation. The day ended with a delicious dinner with guests and lots of cheese.

During our five-day stay in Les Herbiers, we visited the Abbey, learned about the history of the eight mills on the way out of town, and received a tour of the new music school building from Monsieur Bruno. The guide told us the history of Les Herbiers, guided us through the narrow streets of the old town, the quietest corners of the community garden. We visited the part of Les Herbiers that is dedicated to the three twin towns. Our group of 69 took a photo on Newtown Street, named after our Welsh town. My daughter was particularly impressed by the museum of minimal figures and its original interpretation of the existing world.

On the first day, the president of the city, Monsieur Christophe Hogard, welcomed us. Right here in the community center we were presented with a video about Les Herbiers. The video immediately captivated with its ease of conveying information and the residents’ love for their hometown. I honestly wanted to have a similar video about my. In the cinema, we watched the tragi-comedy “Brassed off” in the original language. The film was accompanied by French subtitles. The film told the story of the Brass Band, which existed in difficult economic conditions in Britain in 1984-1985. Spectators and organizers took part in its discussion.

On the second day, we had an excursion to the Italian villa in Clisso, a tour of the ancient fortress. In the center is a local market with products from farmers: sausages, vegetables, cheeses, a huge selection of seafood. We saw the venue of one of the most famous Hard Rock Hellfest festivals, the next one of which is expected in June. Our group visited the Clisson vineyard where we supported a local wine business.

Our program of visiting Les Herbiers was accompanied by musical performances. Folk Group, Newtown Silver Band, Gloria’s Gang Choir. They sang and played Welsh and other songs and compositions.

We were heard on the Central Square of the city, in the cinema, near the town market, at the Twinning Gala Dinner in Mouchamps, at the Theatre Pierre Barouh.

Unforgettable feelings when 101 people on stage are united by music in an orchestra and Monsieur Bruno conducts all the instruments with confident movements. The touching Finlandia by Sibelius sounds from the stage. Alternating minor and major notes, Welsh and French musicians merge into one melody. A concert is playing. The concert is closed. Silence. Monsieur Bruno returns to the hall with a sparkling look, proudly bows to the audience, the hall bursts into applause. Well done Les Herbiers, well done to everyone who supports and continues the initiative of twin places.

This is what twins about, the phrase of one of the founders of the association stuck in my head. About friendship, about understanding each other in different languages, tasting delicious cheeses, wine and mussels at the local market in Les Herbiers.

It is an unconditional love for music, which is an international language.

Tired, but happy, my daughter and I returned to Wales with a new experience, incredibly pleasant impressions of people and a town full of real French flavor.

Many thanks



Press Coverage: