Weekend with our French Hosts in Normandy 17th – 19th April 2015
A delegation from St John celebrated 30th years of Entente Cordiale with our French counterparts in the Normandy town of Le Teilleul on a recent weekend away.
On arriving at our destination on the Friday night, some of us were ready for bed. Being in France, however, the focus was on food rather than rest. So, at approximately 10.30pm we were presented with a meal prepared by our hosts, giving us a chance to catch up with their news, or in some cases, to meet them for the first time!
At approximately 12.45 am one of the members noticed that her suitcase was, in fact, NOT her case (despite the similar colour ribbon tied on the handle!) So, in the early hours of Saturday morning, some investigation was carried out to establish the owner's identity and whereabouts. Luckily it was only a 5 minute drive to our destination. A subsequent handover of suitcases took place in the dark and the other owner then went back inside to finish his meal!
On the Saturday, our itinerary included a unique visit to a traditional Cart Horse Farm, situated in scenic Normandy farmland, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of St John! Despite our watches being one hour ahead, we felt that we had been transported back in time. The peace and solitude of this perfect haven, surrounded by pear trees, lush pastures and gentle giant horses set the pace for the rest of the weekend. Even our ciné film was set in the 1940's! We experienced an excellent traditional lunch of roasted duck (soaked in cider), French cheese and a mouth-watering home-made Crème Caramel, enhanced by a digéstif, some local Pommereau (a blend of apple juice & Calvados). Whilst seated around large tables, the authenticity of the food and conviviality of our hosts made us appreciate a slower pace of life. Even the subsequent parade of Percherons and Cobs transported us back to former farming days when Jersey also used the Cart horse.
The Saturday evening began with a local brass band to entertain us before the official presentations at the Salle des Sports. The Maire, Madame Kunkel, welcomed the new Constable, Chris Taylor, to his first Twinning event; various speeches followed to highlight the 30th anniversary year and also our mutual wish to continue the Twinning activities for future years to come.
We then proceeded to the Hall for some excellent musical entertainment. Female dancers dressed (somewhat scantily!) in traditional costumes from around the World sang songs in different languages and were greatly appreciated, especially by the male contingency.
Our evening meal, commemorating the "Fete de St Georges", followed with plenty of wine to quench our thirst, before the dancing began. A mix of traditional ball room dance music (we were shown up by the French!) was interspersed with more contemporary "disco" music for the younger ones. This kept most of us entertained and on our feet until the early hours.
The next morning, many of us met up in the village to amble around the traditional outdoor market "Vide Grenier", (if you wanted to find an old farm tool, tape cassette or bargain china tea pot, this was the place to come!). We then had our final meal with our French family before it was sadly time to make our way back to the coach for 2.30pm. Where had the time gone? In the warm sunshine, we said "au revoir" to our hosts and looked forward to seeing them again very soon "chez nous" back in Jersey. The journey finally ended when we arrived off the boat at St Helier harbour just after 6pm (although it seemed to take some passengers ages to get passed the Immigration Desk!)
The French had certainly put on a superb weekend and it will be a hard act to follow! We will aim to do so next year, when we will all no doubt look forward to renewing friendships and the Entente Cordiale with our French neighbours. To sum up? "A weekend of nostalgia, local traditions, heart-warming food and convivial company - Vive Le Jumelage!"
Article re Weekend Le Teiulleul April 2015