Coldstream group visits twin town Bennecourt

BY plane, by car and coach, 65 people travelled to Bennecourt in France for Coldstream Twinning Association's 2009 visit.

They arrived on Saturday, June 27, to a warm welcome from their host families and after a short rest they accompanied Coldstream Pipe Band, who had joined with the Twinning Association for this visit, to the Mante-la-Jolie's Celtic Festival.

Coldstream Pipe Band joined with the Normandy Highlanders and a Breton Band to march along the streets and entertain the crowds who were gathered there.

"What an impressive sight they made with the Saltire held high by Ged Browne, and the band led by the Drum Major," said one visitor. "We were all proud to be represented by them."

The Mayor of Mante-la-Jolie welcomed the pipe band and thanked them personally for being part of the festival.

Then it was back to Bennecourt where the town council provided a welcome barbecue, where the whole town was entertained by jugglers, a choir and the pipe band was in action once again.

Sunday found them once again at the park by the Seine for a picnic and royally entertained by the pipe band and a jazz duo. This was no mean feat as the temperature was 38C!

Monday arrived hot and sunny once again for the visit to Chantilly. This is a castle to the north west of Paris built by cousins of the King of France.

The gardens were beautiful and they found welcome shade in the many forest walks before being entertained by the horses and riders of the equestrian centre who gave an impressive demonstration. The visit to the chateau proved interesting, and included an informative guided tour describing the history of the chateau and the many pieces of art.

"I am sure that many of us will wish to return again even if only for the 'magic squares' on hot days," said Linda Holmes.

Tuesday's agenda included a ride on the Pacy/ Breuil train - a line run and operated by a group of volunteers to keep the old traditional diesel goods train running.

"What an adventure it was, stopping the traffic at all the level crossings, we even had our own operatives," said Linda.

"Everyone waved as we went by and they seemed to enjoy seeing the train as much as we did riding on it.

The evening found the pipe band on duty once again, at a concert for local musical groups and the Limay Choir.

Wednesday was Paris day and yes it was hot again!

A guided tour was organised by the French hosts which several people took advantage of. The others enjoyed a visit to their favourite parts of Paris which included the Louvre, The Tuileries, the Pompidou Centre, a trip on the Bateau-Mouche down the Seine and for it involved joining in the break dancing on the Champs Elyses.

On Thursday they visited Giverney, Monets Garden and the Impressionists Museum.

"For those of you who haven't been to Monet's Garden it is indescribably beautiful and when you stand by the water lily lake it's like being in one of Monet's paintings" said Linda.

"We really enjoyed the Impressionist Museum although for a few of us the fact that it was air conditioned added an extra pleasure."

Early on Thursday evening a memorial service was held in the Lecler Gardens for Stuart Tait, who was a loyal member of both the pipe band and the twinning association.

Shopping for all the French goodies to take home was done on Friday.

"The weather, company and entertainment were fabulous," said Linda.

Thank you to all the people who arranged it, the pipe band for doing us proud, everyone who came along and made it such a memorable trip, and to our French hosts."