Twinning Visit to Marans 2014
Our visit to Marans in 2014
VISIT TO MARANS 2014
At 4am on the 28thJune bleary eyed members of the Barrow-upon-Soar Twinning Group met at East Midlands Airport for the 6.30am flight to La Rochelle. We were on our bi-annual visit to stay with our friends in Marans,the town that we are twinned with. Marans is in the Charente Maritime Region which is a low lying very flat area.
We were met at La Rochelle airport by our French hosts. For seven of our members this was a new experience as they had not stayed in Marans before. Two members who have a house not far from Marans were also able to join in with all the activities. Many of the group have been going to Marans since the charter was signed there in 1997 (1996 in Barrow) so we have some long standing friends and it is always a pleasure to meet up with them. We had an official welcome by the mayor at the Mairie (Town Hall) and we then walked to the old fish market which has been made into an exhibition hall. There was a display of paintings, sculpture and other crafts which made a very pleasant setting for the reception, put on by the Mairie, of delicious nibbles and drinks. Of course there was also Galette, a flat cake that is a local delicacy. The rest of the day was spent with our hosts.
On Sunday we drove to the Chateau-de-Dampierre sur Buttons and were given an excellent guided tour by an English lady, so thankfully for those of us who don't speak French we were able to understand the history of the place. Afterwards we had time to stroll around the maze and gardens . In the afternoon we visited a donkey sanctuary, but first and most importantly we had our picnic lunch; all very enjoyable. We even tried wild boar pate, the boar having been shot by the man that made the pate, unbelievably. After a surfeit of food and wine we set off to see the purpose of our visit, the Poitou donkey. This particularly donkey was perilously close to extinction, so the sanctuary was set up to protect and breed them. The Poitou is very different to any donkey I have seen before, quite large with a very shaggy coat. It was interesting to hear about the breeding programme and how many generations would have to be born before they could achieve a 100% Poitou. After an extensive and detailed tour we felt we had a great knowledge of this particularly type of donkey.
The treat in store for Monday morning was a trip to the Car Museum in Talmont St Hilaire. This was a very large transport museum and obviously the vast majority of vehicles were French, so you can imagine our delight when we spotted an English one. This was definitely one for the boys, as lots of technical conversations could be heard, most of which went over the heads of the ladies. On leaving the museum we drove a short distance to the restaurant Auberge de la Court d'Aron in Saint-Cyr where we were served a three course lunch, which was of course excellent. After lunch we went on to a Floral and Tropical Park which covered a large area and we were able to wander around at our own pace. There were many species but the thing that stood out mostly for me was a large lake covered in lotus flowers some of which were in bloom. It must be a magnificent sight when they are all out. Monday evening saw the now traditional final get together, this year it was held at the home of Colette and Didier. After an aperitif of Pineau, a speciality of the Charente Maritime region, we had our supper, and then sang for it. We sang a variety of songs, the words being given to our hosts so that they could join in, then their turn came, they sang a selection of traditional French songs, a lovely end to the evening. Tuesday came around all too soon and after lunch we headed to La Rochelle airport, and fond farewells were said. We are looking forward to hosting our friends in Barrow next year and the planning begins now.