News from Trowbridge French Twinning Association

Charenton-le-Pont 2024

At around 7am on Friday 17 May, ten TFTA members set off for our twin town Charenton-le-Pont. Our itinerary was train to Paddington and then Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris. Eight of us travelled together and two were on later trains. We set up a WhatsApp group which proved very useful over the whole weekend. Unfortunately, its first use was to give us a running commentary on the trials of our two members on the later train, which broke down in the Channel Tunnel. They kept us updated and got a lot of sympathy in return. We were met at the Gare du Nord in Paris by a coach from Charenton, with Yannick and Vivienne from the Charenton Twinning Association as escorts. At 6pm we were given a civic reception at the Mairie with champagne and nibbles …. or at least six of us were! Two had been whisked off to a concert in Paris by their hosts and two were still stuck on the train. Nonetheless, we exchanged speeches and I presented the Mayor, Monsieur Hervé Gicquel, with a personal letter from the Mayor of Trowbridge and a brass plaque commissioned by Trowbridge Town Council to commemorate 28 years of twinning and friendship between our two towns. Saturday was spent with hosts visiting various places in Paris – museums, Montmartre, restaurants etc. In the evening there was a formal dinner for over thirty people. A great ambiance, more champagne, good cuisine and a couple more speeches for good measure made for a very enjoyable and gregarious soirée.

On Sunday we travelled by coach to the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte which was the inspiration for the palace of Versailles. We had a guided tour of the magnificent house and gardens and once again were treated to lunch. The final evening was spent with hosts and, from what I have heard, everyone was royally wined and dined.

It was a wonderful weekend and we were lucky enough to enjoy good weather. As usual, the hospitality and generosity of the Charentonnais was exceptional. Old friendships were cemented and new acquaintances made that I am sure will continue into the future. The journey home fortunately passed without incident or delay. I am looking forward to the next trip already. Just the small matter of planning for their visit to our town next year… Phil Powell TFTA Chair.

Skittles and Supper

21 members enjoyed skittles and a delicious ploughman’s supper at Southwick Village Hall on Friday 24 May. A picture quiz of places in France caused a lot of head-scratching. Helen and Pete Cosslett, the worthy winners, were rewarded with a bottle of wine and two wine glasses.

Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre – 1.20 pm Thurs 20 June

Paris comes to Bath! Our June social event is a group visit to this fascinating exhibition at The Victoria Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath. Meet in the foyer at 1.20 pm. We have booked a half-hour talk before viewing the exhibition. Why not have an early lunch in Bath and/or a coffee afterwards with others in the group? Make your own way to Bath – we’ll try to arrange a lift if required. Book early by emailing to ensure a place. The deadline is 16 June. The cost is £9 per person. Pay online to account number 66091624, Sort Code 60-21-36. Use your surname and TOULOUSE as payment reference, eg JONES TOULOUSE. Please send an email to after you have made the payment, to say it’s been done. Or pay by cash or cheque to the Treasurer, Rob Summerson, 40 Marsh Rd, Hilperton Marsh, Trowbridge BA14 7PR.

Guided walk and optional lunch in Bathford 10.30 am Sat 6 July, lunch at 12.30 pm £3 – pay on the day

You may have overlooked the village of Bathford with its interesting historic buildings and a fine pub, The Crown, which has French décor and a menu with French options, including light bites and small portions, if preferred. Please indicate your interest now in a guided walk of a mile or so, stating whether you will want lunch, by emailing the address below. Though the road to the village is a hill, you will be able to park on at the top if you prefer to avoid the climb. And you can just come for lunch, if preferred. Further details will be sent later.

Cadenham Manor garden visit with tea and talk Wed 24 July at 2 pm £15

We have arranged a private visit for TFTA members and friends to this beautiful 4-acre French-style garden that surrounds a 17th century manor at Bremhill, near Calne. As well as having plenty of time to explore the many rooms of the garden, the visit includes tea and cake plus a talk by the owner. Please book early! Payment in advance as per the Toulouse-Lautrec event, with surname and CADENHAM as payment reference, please. The deadline is 19 July. Make your own way but we’ll try to arrange a lift if required.  Le mot juste

Summer starting in June has prompted thoughts about French vocabulary for holidays. I said last time that holidays are always plural in French – les vacances – but there are other words you can use.  Un voyage is a trip and you can specify the means of transport: en bateau, en car (coach), en voiture (car), en train, en avion or à vélo (bike). It’s à vélo because you don’t get inside a bike! Une croisière is a cruise.

Le séjour is commonly-used and is roughly equivalent to a stay: nous allons faire un séjour d’une semaine en Belgique = we’re going to stay in
Belgium for a week. A package holiday is un sejour tout compris – a holiday with everything included – or un voyage organisé. You can say un séjour indépendent for a self-catering holiday which, if it’s in France, may well be in un gîte – a holiday cottage/house/flat. By the way, French also uses le séjour or la salle de séjour to refer to a living room – a less formal room than un salon. Une escapade means a short break or getaway – une escapade citadine = city break, if you’re lucky une escapade romantique. A day off work or a day’s leave is un jour de congé and a bank/public holiday is un jour férié. School holidays are les vacances scolaires. The equivalent of B&B is une chambre d’hôtes, generally an excellent option in France.
But whatever you’re doing, bonnes vacances !

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