Three of the party from Wrington Twinning Association Committee - John Adams, Chairman, Echo Irving,
Chairwoman Wrington Parish Council, and Annabel Scott with M le Maire, Yves Blérard Léglise and other
councillors outside the Hotel de Ville shortly after their arrival. The fourth member of the Wrington party, John
Urquhart, joined them the following day.
There follow four pages of photographs taken at major events over the 3 days of their stay. The accompanying
text gives context to the image, and something of impressions of the four members of the Wrington party.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“In October last year the first part of a Charter of Friendship, linking Wrington and Villeneuve through a twinning
agreement, was signed in a lively and well-attended event at the Memorial Hall. This year Echo Irving, as Chair
of the Wrington PC, and three members of the Twinning Association committee (John Adams, Annabel Scott and
John Urquhart) made the return visit on March 18-21 to complete the formalities and extend our contacts.
We received an extremely warm welcome from Monsieur le Maire and members of the Villeneuve twinning
committee at the intimate airport at Béziers. This is a shortish drive from the village, where the flags had been put
out for us quite literally - the union jack flying from flag posts at the edge of the town, hanging in shop windows
and around the main square, and even tied to the handlebars of children's bikes.
Following an initial meeting we were given a conducted tour of the village. The centre consists of narrow cobbled
streets, opening up onto the main square with the rather grand new 'Mairie', and just a stone's throw from the
Canal du Midi. The 'lès' in the title means 'nearby' the larger provincial city of Béziers, to which Villeneuve is
linked by the same out-of-town stuff as here - a multiplex, supermarkets and 'do-it-yourself' stores and so on.
After booking into a most delightful b&b - an attractive old house in the town centre which the owner had lovingly
restored to its full glory - we met members of the twinning committee over an evening meal.
Saturday dawned sunny. Breakfast was outstanding - fresh squeezed oranges, fruits from the patron's own trees,
fresh-baked croissants and home-made preserves with delicious coffee. In fact the weather was excellent during
our stay although parts of Villeneuve, particularly the low-lying vineyards, had been flooded the previous week
when the River Orb overflowed following torrential rainfall up in the Cévennes. Despite having worked over 100
hours that week to deal with the emergency, the Maire (M.Jean-Paul Gallonier) together with the Mme. Eléna
Cros (councillor for tourism) and Mme Emmanuelle Nardini (councilor for twinning) and members of the
committee took us on a tour of the immediate region.
First stop was Béziers where we were given conducted tours of the Arena (which hosts many events including
concerts and, as still happens in the South of France, an annual bullfight) and the imposing St Nazaire Cathedral.
This was followed by a visit to the seaside at Valras-plage - not unlike a very small new-town Weston, with a long
promenade, golden sand and some excellent fresh-fish shops.
That afternoon we were invited to a wedding conducted by the mayor in the former covered market - now
converted to a chic civic function room. In France, couples have to be married by the State and only then, if they
wish, a church wedding.
This was followed by a ceremony at the Villeneuve war memorial, where Echo laid a wreath [see next page].
Then came the signing ceremony, attended by some 150 people, together with the official unveiling of the
twinning signs, which took place back in the atmospheric civic rooms. Following speeches from Echo (in French)
and Jean-Paul (in English) there was live music, a dance display from the local folk group and a selection of local
wine all going to make a very festive occasion. ”
The Signing Ceremony
Click thumbnail to enlarge
Photos by John Adams, Yves Blérard Léglise, Mme Eléna
Committee visit 18-21 March, 2011