Downham Market Twinning Club

Sunday morning and it was time to catch the coach for Stansted and our Ryanair flight to Poitiers. At the French airport we were met by another coach and transferred to the Town Hall at Civray. Our party was smaller than usual with only around twenty members, another trip is taking place in late September to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Twinning and it was thought that more members might want to travel then. Members and hosts were paired up, a glass of wine imbibed and everyone departed for host’s houses.

Monday morning was free to recover from flight etc. After lunch we met with a coach and travelled to Montmorillon. Visits were arranged at a Macaroon factory (very tasty) and a typewriter museum. After this there was time for shopping or a coffee or something more potent. One member, Andy Burton who had not visited before already rated his accommodation 5 Star! Monday evening was free with hosts, some hosts got together and had joint evenings through the week. Our hosts involved us with their family and friends, on Monday their daughter, son in law and daughter arrived for dinner, also there was Francis’ brother Joel, his wife Fabien and their daughter Angelique, a grand time was enjoyed.

Tuesday morning is market day in Civray and I can assure you that it has not diminished,

there can’t be much that is not on sale. At 11am we joined up at the new swimming pool complex where we were officially welcomed by the Mayor of Civray, Monsieur Gilbert Jalladeau. This was followed by the departure for La Grange du Paradis for the afternoon picnic, this was a long drive and when we arrived we were all a little disappointed, including the French as the barn was very dusty and not at all welcoming.  However the tables were taken outside and tidied up and with paper covers they began to look respectable. The picnic took place and games like Skittles and Petanque took place. Also some members went for local walks. The evening approached and the second picnic (left overs?) took place and was once again enjoyed.

We had to be up very early on Wednesday morning as the coach was leaving at 7am. We arrived at the railway station at Saujon where a vintage diesel train awaited us. Known as the “Seagulls Train” it took us to Mornac-sur-Seudre, a village of craftsmen in the heart of the marsh and very picturesque it was too. Members had time to explore the village and partake of lunch. We returned to the Station for the vintage steam train to La Tremblade, however a way down the line the train unfortunately broke down and a replacement diesel had to be secured. At La Tremblade we re-joined our coach and moved onto Ronce-les-Baines for a time on the beach. The evening was free again with hosts.

Thursday was the only poor day weather wise. We had a 9am departure for Poitiers. We had a guided tour of Nouaille-Maupertuis Abbey which was most interesting. Our picnic lunch should have been at a lakeside but due to the rain we stayed at the Abbey and had lunch in a hall there.  The afternoon was free in Poitiers for shopping or whatever. We shopped with Roselyne, our hostess and her granddaughter Valentine who was staying at their house.

Another early morning on Friday with another 7am departure. We visited Doué- la-Fontaine and the Cave Dwellings at Louesse-Rochemenier. Lunch was at the restaurant La Baccaret, some of us were disappointed to find it was located at the local Inter Marché supermarket, but the food was excellent. The afternoon was spent at the Museum of Past Time Shops and their Rose Garden. The evening for us was another excellent meal at our hosts’ tonight. Their friends Mimi and Pasquale attended as well.

A ‘lay in’ was allowed on Saturday with supermarket shopping to follow. At lunchtime we were treated to lunch at the restaurant Auberge  de Argentor at Nanteuil en Vallee. It was absolutely excellent. This was followed by a walk around the village. A ‘sieste’ was allowed in the afternoon, followed by a small dinner. In the evening we visited the village of St Pierre d’Exdueil where we were promised ‘Fireworks’, we were not disappointed, they were spectacular, being choreographed to music. I think we were the only members there, hundreds of French though. A beer finished the evening and a cognac back at the house.

Sunday was our last full day and we went to Ruffec to visit a Brocante which is a flea market, I’m sure I haven’t seen so much junk in one place, but there was a lot of people looking and some even buying, as ever, many English there. This was followed by a family picnic and a paddle for some of the children, a sleep for me! We returned to Civray for the Twinning Club Dinner at the Town Hall. Music, dancing and another excellent meal.

Our flight on Monday was at 5pm and our coach dropped us at the airport in plenty of time. Another wonderful exchange visit had come to an end. The 40th anniversary trip is 30th September – 3rd October, our flights are booked already.

Stephen and Christine Nunn

2016 Visit to Civray