Following the previous visit of the Pleumeleucois, residents of Pleumeleuc Llanfairfechan’s Twin Town, in May 2013 it was decided that 40 / 45 residents from Llanfairfechan would visit Pleumeleuc from May 24th – 29th 2014. 18 Girl Guides and their leaders would form part of the group.
12 Fund Raising events such as Bingo, Horse racing, Crepes and Vino and Dining evenings, including a tea dance and coffee mornings with numerous donations from various organisations such as Light Up Llan and CCBC, enabled the Group to leave Llanfairfechan at Midnight on Friday 23rd May.
Travelling by ABACAB Coach to Portsmouth for the 8.15 Ferry to Ouistreham in Normandy and finally continuing the coach journey to arrive in Pleumeleuc at 3.30pm that day, to be welcomed by the Mayor, Madame Patricia Cousin and the Town Twinning Committee. Following the official photograph on the steps of the Town Hall the group were introduced to their Hosts who took them home to a traditional Breton Meal and a good night’s rest.
The warm welcome dispelled any tiredness following the long journey and the unique experience, the first time abroad for many of the Welsh visitors, began. For some of the Town Twinning Committee it was a case of meeting up with close friends from the previous years’ exchanges.
Sunday, 25th meant an early start for all. A local primary School, St. Melaine, held its 18th Strawberry Fete a whole day dedicated to the ‘strawberry’ theme. All the Welsh party had prepared hats decorated with strawberries and fruit as a tradition for the event. There were many different items on the day, games of Palet throwing, decorating a giant hat with lots of strawberries, an Organ Grinder, a ventriloquist called Zargal, a magician and balloon bursting. The highlight of the day was the spectacle of the Girl Guides dancing which received tumultuous applause.
A barbecued meal completed the day then the party visited the Tremelin Water Sports centre nearby. Some of the Group went rambling through the forest whilst the Girl Guides went to entertain the crowds at the lake side and took part in Breton Dancing with the Celtic Circle of Montfort. The Guides spent an exciting hour on pedaloes on the lake before returning to their hosts for the evening, for yet another tasty supper. Finley Malone-Cross commented, “One of my favourite parts of the trip was when we went on the pedaloes, because the view was amazing and it was just so much fun, but then the whole trip was like that !”
Monday. 26th May was a day with a difference. All the Girl Guides and their Leaders went to spend a full day in the two Primary Schools, St. Melaine and Le Petit Prince, and the Secondary School College de Jacques Prevert in Romille another town local to Pleumeleuc. One of the Guides, Kes, who attended the College Jacques Prevert said “ I enjoyed the day in the French School, We made lots of new friends who we are in touch with on Snapchat and Facebook.”
In the meantime the adults followed the theme of water for the visit and after a presentation in the Library on the uses and importance of water to Brittany and visited three different water treatment stations! The day ended with a buffet in the Town Hall then it was home to the Hosts for the third night of the exchange.
A day on the Breton Coast was the plan for Tuesday 27th May.The group visited the Barrage de la Rance the first tidal power station in the world which was opened by General De Gaulle in 1968, and has been producing electricity ever since. Travelling across the Barrage the next visit was to the famous town of St. Malo. An interesting historical town which had been almost destroyed during the Second World War and completely re constructed since. The final visit of the day was to the Town of Cancale on the coast between St. Malo and Granville. Cancale is famous for its oysters so following a guided tour of the oyster nurseries, an oyster tasting took place, which was a unique experience for many, and a challenge for many of the adults. Again the evening was spent with the Hosts who were now treating their visitors as members of their family.
Wednesday morning was spent in the locality of Pleumeleuc with some adults following the course of the River Vaunoise through the forest, whilst the Girl Guides spent the morning fishing in a local lake. For the rest of the day the youngsters kept reminding the adults that they had caught 51 fish that morning ! The afternoon was spent in the City of Rennes the capital city of Brittany viewing the sites such as the Breton Parliament, the Cathedral, the Town Hall with its cobbled square, as well as the half-timbered houses, the shops with many hand crafted gifts. Elwen Evans enjoyed her trip to France with the Guides.” My favourite part was going to St Malo and the Barrage de la Rance. I also enjoyed the fishing. Everyone was so nice especially the family I stayed with, they were so welcoming, I will treasure the memories for ever.”
Wednesday evening was the Official Reception in Pleumeleuc, hosted by the Mayor and the Town Twinning Committee with all the Hosts and the residents who had helped to make the trip such a success. The Mayor addressed the Guests and in her speech stressed the importance of Town Twinning in Europe : The importance of Twinning to the citizens of Europe is based on our knowledge of each other , the dialogue, activities and friendship….it is the ambition of Town Twinning to follow the aims of Twinning to promote and support human, social cultural, sporting and economic relations between our people, of all generations in a spirit of mutual understanding.”
Councillor Ray Jones replied on behalf of the Llanfairfechan Town Twinning Association and thanked the Pleumeleucois for the warm and generous hospitality and welcome, saying how much we were looking forward to the return visit in 2015. As tokens of friendship between the two Towns a gift of a Celtic tapestry was presented to the French and a framed photograph of Pleumeleuc to the Welsh.
During the evening presents were exchanged between the Committees and the Guides and their Hosts and everyone enjoyed the dining and dancing in the Reception.
11.00am the next day, the coach left Pleumeleuc with the warm wishes of all the French who came to wish us farewell and anticipating their return visit next year.
Arriving back in Llanfairfechan at 4.00am Friday morning, everyone agreed the visit had been a great success and cemented the principles of Town Twinning. Janey Malone, the Leader of the Guides commented “ The Guides were received with warmth and generosity by the people of Pleumeleuc and were perfect Ambassadors for Llanfairfechan. I am very proud of them all.”