Newtown Twinning Association
Trip to Les Herbiers
On Thursday, 15th of June, an Owens’s coach, full of enthusiastic travellers, set off from Newtown on a long awaited trip to Les Herbiers in the Vendée.
Many were newcomers to the association, but all were looking forward to a varied weekend of activities with guaranteed wall-to-wall sunshine.
The journey down to Plymouth took us on the pretty route through Wales via Rhyader and Builth Wells towards Abergevenny and the M5 at Bristol. A Sunny end to the day made for a sociable start to the holiday, with a glass or two on deck, and an unruffled sea gave everyone a good night’s sleep.!!
Having left Roscoff, we made our way to Carnac for a midday break, once again appreciating the view from the coach, as we travelled through the beautiful countryside of Brittany. Carnac was a lovely place to stop, its thousands of standing stones worth a visit, even in the short space of time we had. Lunch was taken in the pretty resort of Trinité sur Mer, a little way beyond Carnac, where a veritable forest of masts from expensive yachts glittered in the harbour. The sun, sea and ‘moules et frites’ put everyone into a holiday mood and, by the end of the afternoon, we were being greeted by the twinning committee and our hosts at the new town hall in Les Herbiers. Our evening was spent with our hosts in their homes, where some interesting conversations took place in a mixture of French, English and Franglais.!!
On Saturday, many people went on the arranged walks around Les Herbiers, while others were entertained by their hosts, and several others took part in the craft fair that had been arranged by the French twinning committee. For the NTA, this had been an event a yearlong in its organisation and many artists’ work was on display, including that of Sasha Cook, who had made the decision to come too.!!
‘We were also delighted to have four students accompanying us from the Newtown College of the NPTC group of colleges. Their craft work had been chosen for this summer’s event, after the Global Enterprise week that took place before Christmas. They had been taking part in a project that was designed to develop their entrepreneurial skills and they were further selected to perform the rôle of enterprise interns, in a scheme trialling for the first time.!
Their trip to France was financed by the Welsh Government and Business Wales, with the Youth Entrepreneurship and Business Support being funded by the European Regional Development Fund. They were accompanied by Sarah Welch, lecturer for enterprise studies, and Pamela Morgan, marketing and communication officer for the Powys campuses of NPTC, who gave great support and encouragement to the girls throughout the trip.
This was the first time in France for most of the students, but it didn’t take long for them to settle in and enjoy both the business and social aspects of their stay in Les Herbiers. They coped well with the demands of the fair,where they sold their own produce and assisted in selling a consignment of Bara Brith and Welsh Cakes, great favourites with the French. They also met Véronique Béssé, French MP, Mayor and Présidente of the ‘Communauté des Communes de Vendée’, as well as Jean-Luc Godet, mayor of the neighbouring town of Les Epesses, who both took a great interest in their presence at the fair.!
The rewards following their success at college far exceeded their expectations and they made many positive comments about their experiences, which could possibly have a bearing on their future careers.!
Naturally, for the Twinning Association, we hope that this will encourage similar exchanges in the future and foster a younger element to join.’
On Saturday evening, over a hundred people enjoyed a Gala Dinner and Dance, in true French style, with speeches and exchange of gifts, a three course dinner and several hours of energetic dancing. For those getting up early to go to the 40th celebrations of Puy du Fou on Sunday morning, a 2.30 drop into bed was unbelievably late, but a well guided route around the best shows on offer, proved to be a real hit and everyone said how much they had enjoyed going, in spite of the temperatures being in the mid-thirties.
The shows covered different aspects of French history, with remarkable tableaux of what the Romans got up to during their occupation of France.!
Those who chose not to visit Puy du Fou, spent the day with their hosts, many spinning off to the coast, where it was slightly more bearable in the heat, with a pleasant breeze blowing. All in all, a very enjoyable day.!
The coach was ready for the off at 7.30 on Monday morning and we couldn’t believe how quickly the time had passed. New friendships had been made and, for those meeting up with old friends, promises were made for the next exchange. We made rapid progress to Bayeux for lunch and then took a route across the coast, where we glimpsed at the Mulberry Harbour, put in place for the D Day Landings. Coinciding with travellers returning to England from the races in Le Mans, our exit from Caen was delayed, but that left us with a very pleasant crossing on deck, in full sunshine, mulling over the events of the weekend.!
We are happy with the overall success of the visit [though the unexpected heat-wave did rob us of decent sales at the fair] and the committee is now planning for the coming months. We would like anyone interested, to come to our next event, which will be the Picnic in the Park on Sunday, the 23rd of July, where there will be fun and games and shared picnics.!