On our arrival at the Hotel de Ville in Fougères our hosts and non-hosts from the Fougères club welcomed all 8 of us. It was fantastic to see the support from their members.
We were shown into the ‘town hall’ and for some of us there was something of amazement of the hall. Speeches were led by one of the eight Deputy Mayor’s in Fougères - Marie Carre.
Her speech was about the thirty years of twinning between our clubs and how important it is to continue. She also mentioned those who had passed away in recent years, John Giullame, Jacqueline Pele and John-Luc Chevreteau. Their strength and determination will always continue.
Their President (Chairman) Alain Ausseurs followed with how great the emotions of the Fougères club members were to receive the Ashford members. Both clubs have the same inspiration and ideas and will continue beyond the 30 years of twinning.
His speech was followed by the Ashford Chairman, who spoke in French, on how we looked forward to coming to Fougères primarily for their friendship and hospitality. Back in 1986 those who attended were eager to meet new friends and this has continued to this day.
It was with great sadness only eight members could make the visit.
Our visitors chatted merrily with their hosts and other guests while refreshments were served. Soon we departed to spend the rest of the evening with our host’s with arrangements each host had planned such as a BBQ, as the weather was wonderful, or sitting around a dining table with invited friends.
Friday morning, we met up in the car park of the Castle for our visit to Leheac which was about 60 miles away. Photos were taken of our group in this picturesque French village, full of stone cottages and flowers, prior to having a scrumptious 3 course lunch in La Gibeciere restaurant. In the restaurant Mike Robson gave a toast celebrating our Queen’s 90th Birthday. The French love our Royal Family.
After lunch we all made our way to the motor museum, Manoir de L’automobile, where 400 vehicles were on show, such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maserati’s, Alfa Romeos, Lancia’s and many other makes and models from Ford Austin’s to Rolls Royce’s. Also within the museum were shops, workshops and even a dentist. For the car enthusiast there was a grand prix circuit to watch the experts do their stuff.
Saturday was a free day when members were taken to either St Malo, Mont St Michel, Dinan, Dinard or simply stayed in Fougères with their hosts’.
The main dinner was held in a restaurant in Fougères central, ‘’Galon ar Breizh’’, which was attended by 41 past and present guests. A gateau was presented with candles which was blown out together by Alain and Gillian which was our desert.
As a small gesture from the Ashford club, Gillian gave each female & 1 male Fougères member a single rose celebrating our anniversary. The male member, Roger Pele, was going to put that rose on Jacqueline’s grave.
The evening ended with two French members surprising us, Nicola Legeai singing ‘’Ke Sera Sera’, originally sung by Doris Day, with the audience joining in the chorus, followed by Francine Pelleter’s rendition of ‘’Non Je ne Regrette Rien’’ by Edith Piaf.
The evening ended in high spirits.
The following day was a free day, wet in places, where some visitors stayed in Fougères at leisure and some took a walk in the 1500 hectares of Fougères forest.
On Monday we returned to Ashford.
A big ‘’thank you’’ goes to Anne Button for translating when required.
Story by Gillian Lines