Livarot Fromagerie and Orbec
This was our first visit to Mont St. Aignan since September 2019 due to the
Covid-19 pandemic and we travelled via Eurotunnel which all went smoothly with
only proof of vaccination required. We met up at L’Aire de la Baie de Somme
before making our way to the Carrefour in Mont St. Aignan for our traditional “supermarche
sweep” prior to meeting our French hosts in the evening.
On Saturday we
travelled by coach to the Graindorge family-run Livarot Fromagerie where we
learnt about the history and the process of cheese production together with a
tasting of 4 of the Normandy Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses:
Livarot / Neufchatel / Pont l’Eveque / Camembert de Normandie accompanied by a
glass of the local Cidre Pays d’Auge.
Then we went to the small, mediaeval
town of Orbec with its pretty half-timbered houses. After a picnic lunch in
glorious sunshine we began to explore....
1.La Musee du Vieux Manoir
historic building houses a collection of everyday objects, clothing and ceramics
which show the arts and traditions of life in the Pays d’Auge.
2.La Source de
This spring near the remains of an old mill and wash house feeds
the Orbriquet river which is famous for trout fishing.
3.L’Eglise de Notre Dame
The 15th Century tower of this church was rebuilt after the Hundred Years’ War
and restored in the 19th Century and has fine Renaissance stained glass windows.
4.Rue des Moulins
This street has a mix of timber (C15&16), stone (C17) and
brick (C19) houses which are typical of this small town.
Upon our return to
Mont St. Aignan we had a brief respite before having a lovely meal at the MSA
Association Hall/Community Centre where we had the opportunity to chat with our
French friends and discuss the events of the day. The highlight of the evening
was our EDTA Chairman having her speech translated almost simultaneously into
French by her host – a great double act!
On the Sunday morning we had a
lovely brunch at Le Rexy before departing for Calais via L’Aire de la Baie de
Somme and with a straightforward journey we arrived back in Edenbridge in the
Picture Gallery of May trip to Mont St Aignan TBA
Coronavirus robbed us of
2020 and 2021
Past Events 2019
Travelling as a ‘Baker’s Dozen’ seemed a good way for the
group of 13 from Edenbridge and District Twinning Association to overcome any
superstitious misgivings, especially as departing early on Friday 13th
However reasonable traffic conditions and a smooth ferry
crossing from Dover found us safely in Calais for the onward journey to our twin
town of Mont St. Aignan, in Normandy. We made the customary stop at a supermarche for a quick
shop of any favourite items before meeting our French hosts with whom the
English were to spend two nights. Some of us were meeting old friends whilst
other were ready to make new ones over their evening meal before a good night’s
Saturday morning, we came together again and with added
numbers of French ‘Twinner’s’, it was off on a coach towards Paris. Our
destination was ‘France Miniature’. This was a well-planned outdoor site, taking
its visitors on a one-way route around the various prominent cities, regions and
other notable places of France but on a small scale. Twisting and turning the path meandered between the highly
detailed models. In case there were some buildings or landscapes we were not
familiar with, there were plaques alongside giving geographical and historical
information. There were plenty of exclamations heard in the recognition
of some place where the individual had actually been and also expressions of
intent to make future visits. The park features gave enough interest for both adults and
children for the day and, as often happens on ‘Twinning’ outings the weather was
warm and sunny which also made for a pleasant midday picnic. A somewhat
different venue for the day trip but much enjoyed all the same. It was a tired coach load on the return journey, crossing
the River Seine and up the escarpment to where our Twin Town, Mont St. Aignan
sits, overlooking Rouen.
A chance to repose ourselves before heading out to a local
community hall where we met together once more for a very pleasant evening spent
having a tasty meal and some drinks and yet more chatting. Mostly in English but
with some Franglais and even attempts at reasonable French by some (and I don’t
mean the locals).
Sunday morning gave some of the English party an
opportunity for a lay-in, or a ‘grassse matinee’ (fat morning), whilst others
were taken by their hosts into Rouen city for a dash around the big popular
Sunday Market.Mid-morning saw us all in the centre of MSA where, in the
grounds of the recently finished remodelled Marc Sangnier Cultural Centre, stood
a most recognisable sight in the form of a British Red Telephone Box! This gift
from Edenbridge to its twin Town was made in 1988 but during the site
redevelopment had been safely stored by the MSA Town Council. Cleaned and freshly painted it was now positioned not far
from its original site and though without a phone, it now houses some shelves
for a stock of books available for loan, mostly English language but with the
odd Polish, German and even Romanian one to mark MSA’s other twin Towns! An occasion then for a welcome speech by the Mayor of MSA.
Madame Flavigny, followed by the Re-opening Ceremony of ribbon cutting by our
EDTA Chairman, Peter Stevens, the MSA Mayor and others from MSA International.
Lot of photos were then taken, of course.
[Coincidentally also this year, a similar Re-inauguration
Ceremony took place, this time in Edenbridge during the May visit by the French
‘Twinners’. On that occasion it was to mark the re-siting of the Sun Dial, a
gift made to Edenbridge by MSA in 1991. Previously positioned at Stangrove
Lodge, the construction company redeveloping the site kindly took on the
lifting, moving and reinstallation at the Riverside Green area near the old
Early on the Sunday afternoon, fortified by coffee and
snacks, the English party said a sad farewell to their French counterparts and
the 3 cars set off on the return journey. This was again uneventful and we made
Edenbridge mid evening to reflect on another successful Twinning Exchange and
look forward to more in 2020.
Those plans for next year will be available at our AGM &
Social Evening to be held at Bridges, Edenbridge on Tuesday 26th
November at 8pm. All welcome then or come and see our stand at the French Market
due back in Edenbridge on Sunday 24th November.
Picture Gallery of September trip to Mont St Aignan
Much due to the energetic efforts of Terri Scanes EDTA staged a French Tea Rooms event in
Rickard’s Hall, Edenbridge. It was a opportunity to raise some cash but also to
demonstrate to members of the Edenbridge and District community that the
Twinning Association is here and looking for more active members. There was a
lavish array of cakes to go with either tea or coffee; sales of which netted
over £240. The table service was provided by suitably dressed les serveuses et
un serveur. Édith Piaf provided the background music and a year of images on a
laptop provided additional entertainment. The raffle provided a little extra
finance for the coming years events. Good fun and thanks to all those that
provided food, their time and contributed in any way.
Picture Gallery of June French Tea Rooms
Late on Friday evening, a group of 27 French arrived by coach from Mont St.
Aignan. Fortunately, given a early embarkation promptly on arrival at the
Shuttle meant collection by their English hosts and to their homes, enabled a
bit of extra sleep needed for the early start next morning!
The English coach
waiting in Edenbridge was soon filled on the Saturday with both French and
English trippers and, with a couple of extra participating cars, made its way to
Hampton Court. A walk from the coach park across the bridge gave a good view of
the busy Thames river before entering the first gates and making our way to
deposit the important picnic bags safely.
That done, we were given our
tickets and entered together the next courtyard with our guides as we had two
tours booked, one English and one French speaking.
This gave everyone an
interesting history and insight into both the Palace and its building and
grounds but also the people involved over the centuries. After development
by Cardinal Wolsey Henry VIII took possession and so much was made of the
original Tudor buildings, tapestries and furnishings still to be viewed there,
from grander areas to the lowly but very important kitchens. Subsequent
monarchs also made changes with new parts built, apartments refashioned and the
Picnic time arrived and we dispersed to find the picnic
benches and seats around the grounds before spending the afternoon wandering the
extensive gardens and areas of interest.
The weather stayed fine as is often
the case with Twinning outings and eventually a tired but satisfied set of
tourists regrouped to make their way back to their coach for the return journey.
Time for a little rest and chat at home with hosts and then it was off to
the WI Hall in Edenbridge for the evening meal together, all the more enjoyable
for the hosts as this was provided by our usual New Season Supper caterers.
This meant more time for the English could be spent catching up with the many
returning French friends but also meeting newcomers.
The usual raffle was
held with prizes spread evenly between French and English so all could feel
Sunday morning the start was a little later but it was back to
Edenbridge to gather around the Sundial, newly sited on the Riverside Green near
the old bridge.
The new Town Council Chairman, Mr. Alan Layland, kindly
joined the party to view this gift originally donated to the people of
Edenbridge and its surrounds by Mont St. Aignan in 1991. Placed at the sheltered
housing site in Manor House Gardens it has been kindly relocated courtesy of the
new developers to its more prominent position. Many newer Twinners, of both
towns, hadn’t known of the gift till now.
Time was left for a wander around
the High Street and the now traditional trip around Waitrose where the French
could stock up on their favourite English foods as souvenirs of their visit to
us, before climbing aboard their awaiting coach for the journey home. A short
but rewarding visit for all involved.
Picture Gallery of May 2019 visit to Hampton Court
The evening of Friday the 1st of February saw a large group of ‘Twinners’ and
friends gather together in Rickards Hall, Edenbridge to enjoy a tasty meal
prepared and served by Elliot Catering. This was again very tasty and always a
treat for those committee members and others who help when EDTA decides to
self-cater for events such as the Fundraising Tea Room.
The occasion also
provides the opportunity to renew contact after the Christmas break and look
forward to the activities over the coming ‘Twinning’ season.
rounded off the successful evening, giving a boost to EDTA funds which go
towards entertaining our French visitors over the year.
Past Events 2018
Making it through before the planned roadworks closure of the M20 on the Friday
evening, a group of 15 French ‘Twinners’ came by car from Mont St. Aignan to
stay with their English hosts in and around Edenbridge over a September weekend.
On the Saturday it was an early start for all participating in the trip to
the Kent Life Museum near Maidstone. Heavy traffic resulting from the fore
mentioned roadworks caused more issues with the various cars taking everyone
there but at last, safely parked at the venue, it was down to the nearby river
side to board the long glass covered barge, the ‘Kentish Lady’, for our hour’s
cruise along the Medway to Maidstone.
The sun shone, the ducks and swans
swam and all enjoyed the peaceful pace viewing the various craft moored up along
the banks as they passed by. On alighting there was time for our guided tour of
the Parish Church of All Saints with its interesting history, especially during
the English Civil War when soldiers forced their way through the barricaded
doors leaving bullet holes still able to be viewed.
There was just time to
wander around the adjacent small Infirmerer’s Garden with its medicinal planting
before back to the boat for the return journey.
After picnicking it was a
free afternoon to wander the grounds of the Kent Life Museum with its various
traditional Kentish farm buildings showing, in particular, the Hop Pickers Huts
used, even up until the late 1950’s by those families coming from London by
train. It was treated by many as their summer holiday in some fresh open air
despite the hard work involved. Other sights included Birds of Prey and heritage
breeds of pigs happily rooting around their muddy compound.
together again in the evening at Rickards Hall, there was a chance to pop into
Eden valley Museum to see the latest exhibitions. This included the new display
of the Hoard of Roman Gold Coins found recently at Chiddingstone with their
markings giving a link to the tribes based in the same region that MSA is
situated: it shows an original link which the Town Twinning could be said to be
Beginning with a Pimms aperitive and continuing a traditional
theme with Fish & Chips, followed by a variety of desserts there was much happy
chatting, in French, English and Franglais and the evening concluded with a
Raffle, always enjoyed by our French visitors, the lucky ones travelling home
with suitably English prizes.
After a leisurely breakfast with their hosts
on the Sunday, it was a rendezvous at Waitrose car park for the traditional
super market dash for goodies, whether it be English tea, Scottish shortbread or
Duchy Lemon Curd before departure. Another successful visit blessed with
Picture Gallery of September Visit to Kent Life Museum
Over the weekend
of 1st to 3rd June the Twinning Association visited MSA which included a trip to
Monet Gardens. The coach was rather late leaving Edenbridge, and then
it was foggy in Dover, so the ferry left late. Once on board the group of
Brownies and their leaders disappeared, but the rest of our group had breakfast
members stocking up on vast quantities of Malbec and Yellow Tail Sparkling
wine! There was a diversion round Boulogne – because of repairs to the bridge
only light traffic could use it and the coach was too heavy – which meant we
arrived at MSA later than planned. That meant it was a very quick supermarket sweep round
Carrefour, before we met our hosts for the weekend! On Saturday the Brownies met
up with their French counterparts, the Jeannettes, for a full day of activities
together whilst for the main group it was up and off early with ‘le picnic’ for
the trip to Giverney. It was quite a long coach journey but
very scenic, and we arrived full of anticipation! We could only
move slowly round the ponds, but it gave plenty of opportunity to take in the
water lilies, weeping willows, green bridge, etc, and take loads of photos – all
under beautiful blue skies and sunshine. After the ponds we moved to the gardens
which, despite storms during the preceding week, were wonderful. The colours and
planting were glorious, and we were so lucky with the weather. The house was yet
another revelation, and the bright yellow kitchen was a particular favourite. After lunch we visited
the Giverny Museum of Impressionism, which had a
fantastic exhibition of paintings showing the many
ways in which the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were influenced by
Japanism. There was a stunning selection of 120 works including ones by Monet,
Manet, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Cassatt, Vallotton, Gauguin, Bonnard, Signac,
Denis, Vuillard and van Gogh – so many paintings being shown together. After
that, it was only a short walk up the road and then a stop for a glass of wine!
The village of Giverny was delightful, and we also looked round L’Eglise
Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny, a tiny church which has a grave for
seven British airmen whose Lancaster bomber crashed nearby in 1944.A wonderful
day, which was rounded off in the evening when we all joined together for an
enjoyable supper and
a quiz – this was the last event to be held in the As des Coquets community
building, which was due for
demolition. Despite delays on the return journey because of the bridge repair detour,
we made the ferry and it was back to tasting the Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine and trying to
choose which was best, the white or the pink! We must have made a bit of an
impression because as were near to docking, we were given a stack of little
plastic cups and the rest of the sample bottles to finish off – à votre santé! It was a glorious sunny fun-filled weekend in MSA, and we were very lucky to be
taken on a fantastic trip to Giverny by our hosts.
Picture Gallery of June 2018 visit to Monet's Garden
Following a very successful New Season
Supper in January it enthused EDTA Members to get a good turn out for the
Walking Weekend when the French were due to visit us in March. The French
arrived mostly during the evening of Friday 23rd March and
immediately went to their assigned Hosts homes. Early on the Saturday morning we
drove up the Woodman Public House on the top of Ide hill, near Goathurst Common.
We parked in the Pub car park and made our way off across the countryside in the
direction of Sundridge. Via a circular route we arrived about halfway through
the morning at Ide Hill Post Office/ Village Hall for a coffee and comfort
break. Back onto woodland paths we arrived back at the Woodman ready for Lunch.
Refreshed most set off for an afternoon walk and finished before it became dark.
This gave members and their guests just enough time get home clean up make their
way to Rickards Hall for a fish and chips meal and an evening Quiz. After a
night’s rest and breakfast, the French had a shop in Waitrose and made their way
Picture Gallery of March 2018 Walking Weekend around Ide Hill
Past Events 2017
Over the weekend 29th September - 1st
October EDTA Visited MSA:
There were 18 EDTA members who travelled by car to
MSA for a mini-visit. We were entertained with a very enjoyable and interesting
visit to the 3 Sister Towns: Mers Les Bains, Le Treport and Eu on the Saturday.
Mers Les Bains had delightfully decorated beachfront houses, Le Treport had a
charming harbour and we took the funicular railway up to the top of the cliffs
to enjoy ‘le picnic’ and we then had a tour of the chateau at Eu. It was a
lovely combination of 3 different places. A wonderful weekend.
Picture Gallery of September 2017 visit to Mers Les Bains
Over the 12th to 14th May weekend we had 19 members of the MSA Association du
Jumelage together with 12 Jeanettes, 2 Caravelles and 3 leaders arrive in
Edenbridge. The Jeanettes,
Caravelles and their leaders spent the weekend with their counterpart Brownies
at the Holcot Hostel engaging in various activities over the weekend:
Bushcraft in Staffhurst Wood, and the Town Trail in Edenbridge. The rest
of the French party together with EDTA members visited the St. John Baptist
Church, Penshurst and Penshurst Place followed by an evening dinner in the W.I.
Hall in Edenbridge. The French were
treated to a performance by the Marlings Morris at the Sunday Brunch at
Rickhards Hall, joined by the Jeanettes, Caravelles and their leaders before
Picture Gallery of May 2017 visit to Penshurst Place
We departed as usual on the Friday morning with no delays at Dover. After a
smooth crossing we left Calais and stopped off mid-route at the Aire de la Baie
de Somme to enjoy the wildlife in the glorious sunshine and grab some lunch. We
arrived in MSA mid-afternoon to enable us to do the ‘supermarché sweep’ and have
a few drinks before meeting up with our hosts early evening.
On Saturday, we
set off on a 12k circular walk from St. Pierre-de-Varengeville (about 16k from
MSA) which was mostly flat following an old railway line with just a couple of
hills. The French had pre-arranged a delightful lunch at La Firangle restaurant
and in the afternoon we had a short 4k walk down a steep incline to the River
Seine with Rouen in the background and then a steep walk back to our starting
Those, whose legs were still working, then staggered off to the Centre
d’Art Contemporain de la MATMUT which was located in a beautiful château in the
village. The current exhibition featured local artist, Dominque Vervisch, who is
famous for his paintings depicting penguins and highlighting the effects of
In the evening we assembled for dinner and a quiz in a
community centre in MSA. The categories for the quiz were:
1) The history of
50 years of Twinning with Barsinghausen (which was a bit tricky as none of the
English and the majority of the French had not been there!)
d’avril!’ translated as ‘You Mean Fishy!’ – as it was April Fool’s Day. (The
tradition in France is to put a fish sticker on a person’s back). Rather than
being ‘trick’ questions , they were in fact all to do with water/sailing/seas
with just one question on fish!
3) Shakespeare – as there was at least 1
English person on the majority of tables this was supposed to be for us but as
so often happens some of the French knew more about Shakespeare than we did and
one of us will forever be known as Mrs Wimpy!
4)True/False Friends – this was
the most interesting and most successful round for most of the teams working out
what for example: crane (Eng) and crâne (Fr) meant.
The next day, several of
the English were guided around Rouen by their hosts before departing at 1.00
p.m. for the journey home. Again we stopped off at the Aire de la Baie de
Somme…again in glorious sunshine so we were slightly shocked to find Calais in a
blanket of thick fog – une veritable soupe de pois – which miraculously lifted
literally as we were in front of Dover harbour. All credit to Captain ‘Pugwash’
Watson who helped to guide the ferry through the fog by sitting at the pointy
A great weekend altogether.
Picture Gallery of March 2017 walking weekend in France
Past Events 2016
A delayed arrival by our French visitors
due to queues at the Shuttle didn’t alter our early start time when we gathered
again to join our coach on Saturday morning and set off for Chatham Dockyard. A
trifle too early as it turned out but we had our money’s worth with the prompt
The guided tour of the Ropery , where rope is still made today,
challenged the translation into French of the many technical terms but
fascinated everyone with the method used.
The walk/ climb through the
submarine was equally challenging as regards moving through the doorways but
highlighted the lack of space. Then free time for an easier wander around the
large site whether it be to see the sailing ship or the frigate, Clocktower or
Lifeboat Museum. All highly interesting and everyone thought the extended
displays were much improved since the last joint Twinning visit many years ago.
Blessed (as so often) with good weather we could enjoy our picnic lunch in the
sunshine with the added entertainment of watching the toings and froings of a
wedding party who were married on board the sailing vessel we had toured shortly
before! Thanks to Lindsey and Roy for a great day out.
A quick journey home
meant a little rest time for most whilst some headed to Rickards Hall to help
Terri and her small team setting up the tables and places as well as the
preparing the food for our supper together. A very tasty meal with lots and lots
of chatting was enjoyed by all and the evening rounded off by a Raffle which the
French find great fun.
Thanks go to Jill , Ben , Caroline and many, many
others but especially Terri. And it was fantastic to see such a hive of activity
by so many at the final clearing-up. Well done all!
After spending the
morning with their hosts and having a quick shop around Waitrose our French
visitors enjoyed Sunday coffee and cake with us before heading off home in their
Picture Gallery of September 2016 visit to Chatham Dockyard
This visit proved very interesting and enjoyable despite the low numbers
participating this year. Having discarded the intended coach and after various
hiccups before departure, it was a band of 14 who left on the Friday morning;
some stalwart Twinners; others less familiar with the journey. After the regular
stops at Baie de la Somme for refreshments en route and the MSA Carrefour we met
our hosts early Friday evening. Saturday saw us up early to board a coach with
our hosts, our group now enlarged by other French Twinners and it was off to the
area of the Somme containing the 1st World War battlefields.
The first stop
was at Beaumont Hamel with its small cemetery and visitor centre dedicated to
the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Moving stories of the soldiers leaving their
families and hard life behind and travel such a long way to give colonial
support to the British cause were a fascinating if poignant read. Leaving their
trenches on 1st July at 9am, half an hour later only 68 remained unscathed
making it one of the bloodiest actions of the Somme. An impressive bronze statue
of a caribou, the Regiment emblem, sits high on a mound overlooking the now
grass covered trenches.
A short stop was then made at the Lochnagar Crater
now the only crater accessible to the public and is 100m diameter and 30m in
depth. It was the result of mining under enemy lines to place explosives which
were then blown on the 1st July as the first action before the infantry assault.
The next site could be seen from some distance as it topped a hill. This was
Thiepval Cemetery and this most striking of memorials was designed by Sir Edwin
Lutyens and has engraved upon its walls the names of the more than 72,205 men
declared missing in the Somme between July 1915 and March 1918. Amongst them in
the section dedicated to the West Kent Regiment we found marked six from the
local Edenbridge area and Stuart McGregor, Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council,
was able to lay a poppy wreath.
The last visit of the day was to the Battle
Museum at Peronne with many interesting artefacts and information and given from
three points of view ie. French, British and German as you can see from the
On our return to MSA we had a short break before it was time
to meet again for a very tasty meal together in the centre of town where we were
able to lighten our mood with lively chat and laughter with our French friends.
Sunday morning and there was a variety of activities with our hosts, including a
visit to the St. Sever Cemetery in Rouen where two more local servicemen are
buried and Stuart McGregor was able to lay another poppy wreath on behalf of
Following a light Brunch we made our way home on an earlier
ferry and therefore an early arrival home. Although a more sombre visit at times
it was yet another very enjoyable weekend.
Picture Gallery of June 2016 visit to the 100 anniversary of
the WW1 Battle of the Somme
Arriving late on the Friday evening it was a small group of French who came over
from Mont St. Aignan to visit Edenbridge for the Walking Weekend, early in
Fully rested it was up early for a very busy day on the Saturday! The
walk was based around the Mark Beech public house ‘The Kentish Horse’ where
cars could be parked and easily available for those who didn’t feel up to a
whole day’s tramp and were to depart after the lunch time meal.
importantly the day was dry though cold and with no wind the mist took some
while to clear which meant the splendid views the organisers had planned to be
on display didn’t materialise till later in the morning. However plenty of
interesting and typical Kentish / E Sussex buildings were on view as the route
went across rolling fields via Horseshoe Green and Moat Lane before returning
near Cowden Station and up to the Mark Beech again. A recce had been made a few
weeks before causing a shortening of the planned route due to the heavy and
waterlogged ground proving very tiring and making for slow progress. Although
drying had begun an overnight deluge of rain during the week before had returned
the wet conditions. All made it safely back to the pub where some non-walking ‘Twinners’
joined us for the very tasty meal. Those carrying on trekking through the
afternoon were rewarded by some sunshine for a short while and some more lovely
countryside as the paths toured around to Cowden village and then back up the
hills to our start point again.
The slow pace made for only a brief rest at
home for all, whether guests, hosts or walkers before the many ‘Twinners’ met
together again to attend the Barn Dance organised by the Edenbridge Hockey Club
that evening. The music by local act Round House folk was very catchy and so
more energy was found to skip, promenade and ‘do-si-do’ in between the chat
about the day’s walking experiences. A number of our French guests are now quite
experienced Barn Dancers but it was much appreciated that the Caller, Bernard
Oldfield, had brushed up on his French words for the various dance moves!
French walkers spent the short Sunday morning with their hosts before meeting at
Waitrose for a restock of favourite English goodies like tea, marmalade and
Stilton cheese and hosts could then wave them goodbye after another very
Picture Gallery of March 2016 Walking Weekend around
Past Events 2015
A small number of ‘Twinners’ set off in
cars for Dover on the Friday morning at the end of September to cross the
channel and on to Mont St. Aignan, our Twin Town. After a chance to stock up
with favourite French items at the local Carrrefour we met with our hosts who
were to look after us over our two nights stay. After a meal, it was then a late
evening trip into the darkness and into nearby Rouen where we spent an hour or
so gazing spellbound at the wonderful Light Show that illuminated the
magnificent cathedral there. This spectacle has been available to view each
evening during the summer months and, to the accompaniment of suitable music,
the lights paint a picture first telling the story of the arrival of the
Norsemen who fought to take over the area centuries ago and with a following
tale of the peasant girl now known as Jeanne d’Arc who met her untimely end in
The next morning it was off to the Chateau of Villarceaux by coach
where our English speaking guide walked us around this rare French example of a
preserved water garden which make use of the many springs found on the site.
These are, in fact the very reason for the establishment of a settlement here as
early as the 11th or 12th century with a Priory, followed later with a fortified
manor house. One can still visit the tower with a source of pure water at its
base still springing forth today which made for a secure source in case of siege
in the troubled times of the 15thc being located as it was near the edge of the
then French realm where it bordered with Normandy, a separate state. The estate
also has a claim to fame for the layout of the grassy rise, which mounts from
the lake to the 18c rococo upper chateau and, although originally of an 18c
English design, it is now only to be found here in France. It is called
‘Farthingale’ or Vertugadin in French as it mimicked the tight folds of the wide
hooped pannier skirts worn by noblewomen from the 16 century. After a look
around the pleasant house with its wonderful views over the lake and countryside
we returned to MSA and readied ourselves for an evening chatting together over a
tasty meal in the local Scout Hall.
Sunday morning we
again met in Rouen but this time to tour the newly opened Jeanne d’Arc
exhibition housed in an old building next to the cathedral. We all learnt a lot
more about her story and in particular the politics of the time which made her
demise inevitable as she became a pawn between the many different groups vying
for power, French and English, Church and State.There was just time for some
drinks and snacks; say our farewells and thank our hosts for another splendid
time with them before heading back to Calais and the ferry home.
Picture Gallery of September 2015 Mini Visit to
Villarceaux and J'd'Arc Musee
Following the enjoyable ‘Walking
Weekend’ at the end of March in Mont St. Aignan, France, with our French
twinning friends, it was our turn to host recently when a group of 32 arrived in
June late Friday evening by coach, ready to spend a short but enjoyable weekend
with their English counterparts. The Saturday outing for all visitors, their
hosts and other ‘Twinners’ was to Arundel Castle and town which began with a
guided tour of the Howard family home, followed by a picnic in the pleasant
grounds and then time to wander freely around the town till meeting the coach to
return to Edenbridge and homes. The Castle was a maze of rooms and history, and
the town an interesting collection of old buildings, shops and the dominant
Catholic Church. There was the chance to visit the only divided church in the
country with the catholic part in the Castle grounds and the entrance to the
Protestant side from the Town’s street. For
me, the icing on the cake, was to see the Castle gardens which were looking
absolutely magnificent with such interesting planting, whether in the formal
area, the small ‘rooms’ full of flowers, the water features, the grottoes, the
vegetable patches, the greenhouses or even the Stumpery! A short lay-in was
allowed for the French guests on the Sunday morning but was soon followed by
visits to local church services, to Waitrose, to stock up on favourite English
provisions, or for the few first-timers’ to take a quick wander along the
historic High Street of Edenbridge. All met together again at Rickards Hall for
a midday Brunch before then waving goodbye to the French who headed back to MSA.
Another enjoyable visit and we now look forward to the 25-27 September when a
group from the Edenbridge and District have a chance to see Villarceaux Chateau
and the new Jeanne d’Arc museum in Rouen, near to Mont St. Aignan, during the
next weekend exchange between the two twin towns and their districts.
Picture Gallery of June 2015 Visit to Arundel
A small group made the trip to MSA for the first 2015 weekend exchange with our
French friends of Mont St. Aignan- A walking weekend. Time enough on our Friday
journey to enjoy a pleasant wander at the Baie de la Somme rest area and a visit
to Carrefour in MSA meant we were in good form when we met our hosts early in
the evening. On Saturday, unfortunately, the weather was as forecast, somewhat
damp and windy, but the group still enjoyed chatting together renewing and
establishing fresh friendships whilst ambling along through the woods and fields
around the village and park of Clere. We were treated to a spread of wild
daffodils and wood anemones under the trees, something even we in our rural area
don’t see now. Lunch in a small restaurant was very tasty and although some
walkers retired for a quieter afternoon elsewhere with their hosts, the majority
continued to tour another footpath loop. The weather cleared for a while and we
just made it back to the cars to return home when the serious rain fell.
Having exercised our legs it was our brains that were needed on the Saturday
evening when we joined together again and, with some new French faces to help
make up teams, we enjoyed a quiz. Slightly easier than in previous years the
challenge to answer the questions, thoughtfully made to need the knowledge of
both groups, French and English, was still very tricky. And it was capped by the
last round of difficult puzzle ones, but at least prizes were given to all as
consolation at the end. And of course we were eating our way through a tasty 3
course meal at the same time!
After a Sunday morning spent with hosts we
gathered together for the last time at the Chairman’s home for a midday brunch
before waving goodbye after another successful weekend exchange. The trip home
was very windy also as forecast but eventually our ferry docked at Calais (with
the aid of tugs!) and after a lumpy crossing all 3 cars and their passengers
Picture Gallery of March 2015 Walking Weekend
Past Events 2014
The September mini visit by our friends from MSA combined a visit
to the Cinque Ports area and
a ceremony to unveil the gift presented in 2013 by the MSA twinning group.
The MSA group arrived by cars during
Friday afternoon and evening. Saturday saw us with an early start for a bus ride
to Chapel Le Ferne Battle of Britain Memorial. Although still unfinished the
memorial was still impressive. Then we went to Walmer Castle, built by Henry
VIII as part of coastal artillery defensive chain, and official residence of the
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23
years and enjoyed his time spent at the castle and in recent years Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made regular visits to the castle. After a
picnic we set for Deal and walk along the beach. We finished the day at
Sandwich; Cinque port, up the River Stour. Oddly we found out that Sandwich was
overrun and ransacked by the French in 1457. After a night spent with their hosts the
MSA party meet EDTA at Mount St Aignan Way to see the unveiling of the sign
presented to Edenbridge in 2013, by the current council chairperson. After an al
fresco brunch at the Town hall the MSA group set off home in their cars.
Picture Gallery of September 2014 Mini Visit
The long awaited visit to Versailles came to pass this May.
We left on Friday morning in a Skinners coach driven by our driver Billy. We
used the ferry, as always, to get to France and drove to Mont Saint Aignan;
stopping for a comfort break at Baie deSomme service station. We arrived at MSA
about 17:00hrs French time which gave us about 45mins shopping at the local
Carrefour before making our way to As de Coquet, Mont Saint Aignan to meet our
hosts. We met at As de Coquet because there was a minor reception hosted by the
new deputy mayor of MSA following the local elections in March. Reception
concluded we made our way home with our hosts.
Saturday was an early start; using a locally hired coach we
and our hosts made our way to Paris then out to the Versailles Palace. This
spectacular palace and vast grounds was instigated by Louis XIV (1661-1715), the
Sun King. The build progressed from 1664 to 1710, interrupted occasionally by
wars, but the king and his court occupied it from 1682. In its heyday the scale
was mind-blowing; one example being there were 34,000 people working in the
gardens. Louis XV lived there as did
Louis XVI until the French Revolution (1789-1799). During this period the
furniture was auctioned off and ultimately became a museum. When Napoleon was created emperor in 1800 he resided at Versailles but
not in the main palace, he used the second of the palaces, the Grand Trianon, in
the grounds of Versailles although apartments were used by his wife the empress
Marie-Louise. During the restoration of the monarchy, then the second
revolution, then the second empire, all the way through to today, the Fifth
Republic, the main palace was still ignored as a residence.
It is however a premier French museum and
foremost tourist attraction.
It is expected that Versailles will have about 24 million
visitors a year. When we arrived and walked into the grand “corps de logis” it
seemed as if they had all turned up on the same day as us. Sensibly our French organisers had arranged for the group to do the gardens in the morning and the
grand palace in the afternoon. In reality there is no way you could see all the
gardens in even a couple of days. At a mere 800 hectares( once it was 8000
hectares), encompassing the 2 minor palaces (Grand Trianon and Petite Trianon),
miles of waterworks, fountains etc. the gardens seemed endless. Even in the most
remote parts there were still crowds of tourists. For lunch we had a picnic.
About 15:00hrs we returned to the main palace. At least we did not have to queue,
but once in it was clear that 100s of tour groups had the same idea as us.
Every room was almost full as tour guides moving their groups from room to room
for another 10 minute lecture. Despite this the palace interior is worth the
wait. We had arranged to meet back at the coach for 17:30hrs so again we had
only really seen a percentage of the grandeur.
We were on a schedule as we had to get back to MSA for an
evening party. The event was organised by the Rouko (Burkina-Faso) section of
MSA International twinning association. There was an excellent meal and African
musicians who were both entertaining and provided the music to enable us to
dance. If I remember correctly we went home very late.
Sunday morning was organised by our hosts; meaning the
Edenbridge group did lots of individual things. Prior to boarding our coach for
our return journey we were given a very nice Brunch.
We had an uneventful journey retracing
our steps back to Edenbridge.
We are very thankful to the French for organising such a
splendid visit to Versailles and MSA. We look forward to seeing many of them
this coming autumn in Edenbridge.
Picture Gallery of May 2014 Visit to the Palace of
The first 2014 weekend exchange with our friends of Mont St. Aignan came in March
when 22 French visited to stay with their English hosts and join the Saturday
walk and lunch around Oldbury and Ightham. Quite a hilly area as Oldbury Hill is
the site of an iron-age hill fort but a very pleasant country trek with the only
rain coming whilst we were safe inside having our meal! In spite of these
exertions, hosts and visitors alike rallied again for the evening entertainment
as we joined the Edenbridge Hockey Club for their Barn Dance. Indeed the French
are becoming enthusiastic experts in this peculiar eccentric English
As the French were leaving on the Sunday morning to return in
time to vote in their local elections that day, there was just enough time for
them to make a quick dash around the new Waitrose in the centre of town to stock
up on their favourite English produce such as lemon curd, pickle and cream
Picture Gallery of 2014 Walking Weekend
Past Events 2013
The Twinning Association again entered a walking party in the 2014 Edenbridge
Bonfire Parade. We were fortunate that the French Committee were over for a
meeting as it meant we could get 2 of their party to join us. The small picture
is of Philip in what might be considered a traditional French outfit. The event
lasted longer than expected a we followed a drum band that, although excellent,
did do long extended displays of their art that held up the parade more than one
once. However we were seen by the might throng of spectators which was good
advertising for the Association and collected a large amount of money in our
buckets which went to local charities.
Picture Gallery of 2013 Bonfire Parade
October (40th Anniversary in MSA)
After the successful 40th Anniversary celebrations in May in Edenbridge, it was
the turn of the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association to travel to
Mont-Saint-Aignan to continue to mark this special year of ‘Town
Despite travelling there and back in the rain we were so lucky
that, for the Saturday and the Sunday morning activities it was cold but fine.
This was just as well since after the morning inside at the Ariel cinema we
marched, led by the Edenbridge Town Band, from there to the Town Hall and a
welcome aperitif from the MSA Council and a chance to warm up!
that we began by hearing the speeches from the Mont-Saint-Aignan Mayor, M.
Patrice Colasse, our own Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council, Mr. Bob Orridge
and also from the Mayor of Brzeg Dolny in Poland and a representative from
Barsinghausen in Germany, the last two also being twinned with the French town.
There followed an entertaining video showing many occasions and activities of
the Twinning Associations over the 40 years, delighting and amusing the mixed
audience before ending with the presentation of gifts. Having presented
Mont-Saint-Aignan Council and the Twinning Association with an engraved plaque
and a painting showing Edenbridge and the local area respectively, Councillor
Bob Orridge was pleased to receive on behalf of Edenbridge, a silver
commemorative medal from MSA and a decorated clock from Brzeg Dolny, as they
were celebrating 10 years of ‘Twinning’ with Mont-Saint-Aignan at the same time.
Outside again we found the Edenbridge Town Band entertaining the local French
shoppers and on our arrival at the Town Hall they played the national anthems of
the three celebrating towns.
After lunching with our individual French hosts,
we separated into differing groups to visit either the nearby city of Rouen with
a ride on the little ‘train’ around its cobbled streets, or the Corderie Vallois
, the Rouen Botanical Gardens or a museum of steam engines and machinery before
joining altogether again for a tasty buffet at the Twinning Association’s
The next event was at the village church where the French
Scouts and Jeannettes, along with those representing the Edenbridge Brownie
pack, sang a couple of songs before the main part of the Concert. This began
with Angela Purll from Edenbridge playing the organ, before accompanying a
French tenor with the flute and followed by her full flute recital of various
pieces. This excellent performance thrilled all present and was then followed by
the French choir Passacaille and their chosen music. Many of the songs were
picked to represent the various countries celebrating and so the English
audience joined in Land of Hope and Glory and the Polish embellished their one
too. A church full of people singing ‘Ode to Joy’ together was a suitable climax
after which the choir led all to finish with a round of ‘What shall we do with
the Drunken Sailor’! What a splendid day!
Sunday may have seemed an
anti-climax but not so as, after overnight and breakfast with our hosts, it was
on to the local mall where more shoppers were entertained by the Edenbridge Town
Band before all gathered to see the red, white and blue ribbon cut by Edenbridge
Town Council Chairman, Bob Orridge to open the small exhibition on display there
about the many happy years of ‘Twinning’.
To round off the visit the large
group then made its way to the local rugby ground where the Edenbridge Rugby
Club, having arrived the previous afternoon, were playing a Youth Team match
with those from the Mont-Saint-Aignan Club. This meeting, initiated at the May
celebratory visit in Edenbridge, ended with a success this time for the English
side with much cheering all round for the beginning of a great link between the
There followed a joint brunch, which could possibly be described
appropriately as a rugby scrum, as the now even larger group enjoyed the food
and drink provided by our hosts. Then a dash for our coaches and the various
groups of ‘Twinners’ were on their way home to Edenbridge having great memories
of meeting and joining with friends old and new in the true ‘Twinning’ spirit of
mutual understanding begun over 40 years ago.
Picture Gallery of 40th Anniversary in MSA
May (Pram Race)
Edenbridge Pram Race in May - Thanks go to Peter Stevens, our Chairman, who was
aided in the Pram Race this year by Veronique, Christine and Philippe, who
stayed on after the May weekend specially to take part. The French came with
costumes, ready to look the part, dressed as Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White
Rabbit, respectively. The Pram suitably adorned with brown teapots plus Peter as
another Mad Hatter (definitely) completed the Alice in Wonderland theme
requested for the Festival Fun Day.
Well done to all who helped with this effort as the team won
the ’Best Dressed Entry’ category, (In spite of hasty repairs needed as the Pram
fell off the trailer on its way in to race!) and a First in the Mixed team
Picture Gallery of May Pram Race
May (40th Anniversary)
So a year of planning disappears overnight! (or so it seemed)
That was the
visit to Edenbridge at the end of May by our French friends from MSA and was
enjoyed by all participants. The extra special activities to mark the 40th
Anniversary of the signing of the Charter, between the two towns, fulfilled
their promise thanks to the various establishments that played their part.
It was also great, to see so many friendly faces, whether ‘twinners’ past,
present and new, or people representing links or local associations during the
On the Saturday morning at the Rickards Hall Civic
Reception, thanks to the good weather, the Courtyard was the place to be when,
after the final speeches of welcome and reply, the Chairman of Edenbridge Town
Council, Cllr. Bob Orridge accepted on behalf of the town a gift from Mont St.
Aignan, presented by M. Hakim Zeghib, Deputy Mayor. With a chance for a coffee &
biscuits whilst listening to both the EB Town Band and two French musicians,
Bruno and Charles, playing it was a good start to the weekend’s activities.
The day continued well with a tasty meal together at Edenbridge Golf Club
followed by a visit to the Castle at Hever and their splendid colourful gardens.
Again weren’t we lucky with the weather!
Time for a short rest before the
evening entertainment all together when the French discovered the fun of a
traditional Barn Dance with music provided by local group, Round House Folk,
with more from our guest French musicians. during the interval for our
On Sunday morning TopFoto welcomed our visitors and
hosts for coffee to view their latest photographic exhibition before everyone
met up again at the Sports Pavilion to watch the 2 Rugby matches to be played
between 2 Youth teams on an overnight visit from MSA and their Edenbridge
counterparts. All then enjoyed sandwiches and cake before the 2 French coaches
departed for home. Whew, what a weekend!
Picture Gallery of May visit to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary
the end of March, some hardy souls set off from Edenbridge on the Friday morning
to travel to Mont Saint Aignan for the first exchange of 2013, the 40th
Anniversary year, for the Edenbridge & District Twinning Association.
weather in MSA, as in Edenbridge, had been very cold with snow and a bitter wind
for some days before but, as seems usual with our ‘twinning’ trips, after a cold
and windy journey, we were lucky on the Saturday of our visit as, although not
hot and sunny, it was dry, wind free and actually quite pleasant for the
proposed day walk.
Our French friends had prepared a route to take us along
both the banks of the Seine, downstream from Rouen, and the nearby River Eure
and which included the wildlife area of some reclaimed gravel pits where we did
a bit of bird watching whilst enjoying, fellow walker Andre’s, home-made
Part of the path took us next to the water between the many houses
that fronted the river and where we found early flowers blooming along the banks
as it was so sheltered, though presumably vulnerable to flooding on occasion. A
much needed idea that spring might not be far away.
Both rivers were in full
flow and higher than usual giving a good indication of the strength and power of
the water, especially at a large lock and electro-generator barrage near the
village of Poses up to which river is tidal from the sea estuary at le Havre.
Walking across the barrage bridge one could feel the dramatic effects of the
change as the water thundered through the gates with turbines producing
electricity. There we could also see the huge barges that troll the river with
their cargoes taking their turn through the large locks.
As usual there was
an enjoyable lunch at a local hostelry midway through the walk to fuel us for
the afternoon route back to our starting point and parked cars for the return to
Mont Saint Aignan and the discovery that it was likely, using modern GPS
information, we had covered nearer 18 kms rather than the expected 15!
time for a long rest as, after a quick freshen up, we reassembled together at
the MSA Twinning Association hall for our evening entertainment of quiz and
tasty supper. Given that some of the quiz masters are ex professors, it was no
surprise to find both French and English challenged to answer the various
questions posed. Interestingly linked so that all could join in, the struggle to
remember, for example, when Queen Victoria had reigned in order for the French
to try to recall how many First Ministers of France there had been at the same
time, meant that there were many weary brains as well as legs to sleep well that
The Sunday morning was spent with hosts before meeting for a
departing brunch together when, with many thanks to our kind hosts for a great
time; it was good wishes to meet again in May (24th – 26th) when the French
arrive by coach for the official 40th Anniversary celebrations in Edenbridge.
Picture Gallery of March walking weekend along the banks of the Eure and Seine
Past Events 2012
November gave the Edenbridge and District Twinning Association another
opportunity to advertise their existence by allowing us to enter a walking party
float in the Edenbridge Bonfire Parade. This year our theme was Les Deux Chevaux.
We had constructed a small version of the 2CV over our racing pram and donned
overalls bearing the Citroen logo. We did not win any prizes but collected 2
buckets of donations to local charities. Hard work but enjoyed by those that
Picture Gallery of Bonfire Parade
Once more we were blessed with good weather when 20 French people from Mont
St. Aignan came to visit their twin town of Edenbridge last weekend. Some
early arrivals spent the afternoon in Canterbury before meeting their hosts
for the Friday evening and overnight whilst others came straight from work
and school to arrive later that night.
Saturday clear and bright saw
hosts, guests and other ‘twinners’ off to Ightham Mote to see the historic
house and gardens with the added treat of free tasting of old English
varieties of apple, cobnuts and other country produce as it was ‘Orchard
After a picnic lunch together in the sunshine it was off to
Quebec House where all were impressed with the delightful house and the
children revelled in dressing up in period costumes and playing the games of
The exhibition on the exploits of General Wolfe in Quebec
highlighted how intertwined are the fortunes of the French and English over
the centuries making the forging of friendships through ‘Twinning’ as
relevant today as ever. A walk along Westerham High Street rounded off
the day and our guests then spent the evening in the company of their hosts.
Sunday brought a chance, in spite of the rain, to see Edenbridge High Street
and visit the Co-op to stock up on English fare such as lemon curd and cream
crackers and then to enjoy some refreshments at Bridges before departing for
the return to France after another successful weekend together.
Picture Gallery of Twinning outing to Ightham Mote and Quebec House
Friday following the Edenbridge Festival saw a party of nineteen English
make their way in cars to Dover in the rain and wind at the start of the
June visit to Mont St. Aignan. A much delayed ferry crossing put them in
France in time to enjoy a picnic in the newly found sunshine before meeting
with some French from Mont St. Aignan for a visit to the town of St. Riquier.
The warm and pleasant weather lasted for the Saturday when a coach took
French and English ‘twinners’ to La Roche Guyon, an old rocky site overlooking the Seine
where dwellings carved in the cliff face had progressed to Norman
fortifications and onwards to medieval castle towers and then to full 18th
Century chateau aimed to rival Versailles.
Following a restaurant lunch,
the group were then taken to a village with a museum sited on a medieval
forge and able to display the many tools produced there for the various past
trades. The enclosed garden behind, full of seasonal flowers and shrubs was
an unexpected bonus.
The evening and following Sunday morning was enjoyed
at leisure with host families before a last farewell brunch heralded our
departure for Calais. Another enjoyable visit!
Picture Gallery of
Edenbridge Twinning's Visit to St Riquier and La Roche-Guyon
saw EDTA’s involvement in two local events as the Edenbridge Festival Bank
Holiday Monday saw the second outing of the ‘Twinning’ team in the
Edenbridge Pram Race, though this year without its French and English lady
participants. The theme of our team was Le Tour de France. A very creditable
2nd place for the team was achieved, whilst others manned the EDTA
promotional stall at the Rotary Festival in Stangrove Park.
Picture Gallery of Edenbridge Pram Race
also saw a group of ‘Jeanettes’, complete with leaders and flags, arrived in
Edenbridge to meet up with their English counterparts, the Brownies, for a
busy four day visit. Not only did they join in special Brownie activities,
they were also welcomed by Edenbridge Primary School for a day and even made
a sightseeing trip to London. A lot of work making arrangements by the
leaders resulted in a very successful first exchange.
April visit to the U K proved a greater challenge than usual since the
weekend exchange of a small number of walkers was this year supplemented by
a visit from the larger choral group Passacaille. Extra hosts were rallied
from around the district and were therefore also able to join in the
activities taking place from the Saturday morning and/or afternoon walk, the
lunch at the W. I. Hall and also the evening concert in the Parish Church of
St. Peter & St. Paul’s. More local flavour was also added to the musical
performance when the Edenbridge singing group A Cappella sang a set of
British songs to balance those of the French, with a joint finale from
Handel’s repertoire. With the addition of other hosts and friends, the
midday hot meal provided a chance for all to mix together, the French choir
arriving from their morning visit to the Eden Valley Museum and the High
Street, to be followed soon after by the walking group, a little weary from
their ramble. Much to the organiser’s relief, the weather for the walk
proved unexpectedly kind and the local countryside did us proud with its
show of bluebells and wild garlic. The afternoon saw the Passacaille choir
arrive at the Parish church to meet with A Cappella for a joint rehearsal
whilst the walkers set off in a different direction for their second venture
in to the local footpaths on offer.
A short and busy weekend, valued by
all who took part as they were able to renew old friendships and make new
acquaintances during the many activities. Many thanks were given for the
hard work arranging.
Picture Gallery of
Walking Weekend and the Passacaille Choir Visit
Past Events 2011