25th - 29th May 2018:
Visit to Oignies - Un Séjour Formidable!
Dawn Departure Vers la France
There were a few bleary eyes among the coach contingent as they climbed aboard shortly after 5am on Burlington Road. With alarms having been set for the middle of the previous night, Derek was also on hand to make sure nobody missed the bus, which duly left for Oignies 5:30.
Bienvenu sur Oignies
6pm and the coach along with the cycle peloton arrive outside the Salle Robespierre in Oignies. Chris Clegg and Perce Calvert having made the trip from Buxton by cycle, were accompanied for the last few km by three amis de Buxton en vélo. Sebastian (in the red shirt) had even dusted off his old steel racing bike - a First Communion present - specially for the occasion. There was beaucoup de bonhommie as old friends caught up, and new members got acquainted in the late afternoon sunshine. Then it was inside, for a delicious reception buffet, with more socialising, welcome speeches and une grande amitié partout.
The Saturday Parade
A sea of blue... 50th Anniversary Polo Shirts
Vivent les visiteurs Anglais !
2018 or la Libération de 1944? - as the parade is joined by a local WWII enthusiasts group, in French and Allied uniforms, along with several vehicles from the era.
Hugo Alleaume and his daughter Maëlys aboard Hugo's grande fierté (Pride and joy)
Remembrance and Commemoration
Gareth Flanagan playing with l'Harmonie de Oignies at the service of remembrance for the fallen allied soldiers and the residents of Oignies murdered during the second world war.
A wreath of remembrance is laid at le Rond Point de Buxton (Buxton Roundabout) in Oignies, in the presence of Fabienne Dupuis le Maire de Oignies and John Walton the Deputy Mayor of High Peak.
Bernadette and Derek - Présidente and Chair respectively of the two associations - unveil a plaque, next to a newly planted cherry tree, in the cemetary gardens, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Buxton-Oignies Twinning.
Samedi Soir : le Repas Dansant
Saturday evening: 1970s themed Fancy dress ball and evening dinner in the Salle Robespierre, attended by a wide selection of (aging) hippies, peace protesters and even Darth Vader. The Friends of Oignies contributed to the occasion with a substantial ‘cheesecake’ made up of a selection of classic English Cheeses, enough English cheese in fact to provide the cheese course for the assembled company of well over 100.
The annual Albert Boitrel trophy was, as usual, hotly contested between Oignies and Buxton. This year hosts Oignies had arranged a contest which required a certain dexterity with paper cups. The picture above shows Derek and Bernadette battling it out for the honour of their home town. Unfortunately for Buxton, Oignies turned out to be the better cup wranglers, and the Albert Boitrel will reside outre Manche, at least until the next AB games in spring 2019.
Le Lundi: Une Belle Journée à Paris
This being the 50th year, our Amis Français had almost literally pushed the boat out with a lunch aboard a bateau mouche whilst cruising down the River Seine past the sights of Paris. This was followed by a brief tour by coach past many other famous sights, then an hour or two strolling around Montmartre. I should also mention that our coach trip halfway rest stops on the journey to Paris were wonderfully managed à la façon Francaise, with croissants patisseries and hot coffee provided in the morning, and a selection of aperitifs including champagne, wine, spirits, beer and snacks on the way home!
Below: La croisière sur la Seine
Le Sacre Coeur
L'aire de repos (et de boire)
Rest stop on the way home to Oignies
Le Mardi : Le Départ vers l'Angleterre
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. There were, as usual, more than a few tears shed, as amis and friends, new and old parted company for another year, and our coach headed off to the Autoroute des Anglais and the port of Calais.
Many thanks to the Amis de Buxton for such a fantastic weekend in Oignies, and all the happy memories. À 2019 alors!
Below are a selection of comments from the Buxton Oignies Twinning Society Facebook page...
Véronique Bernard: Au revoir, Amis de Buxton !!! Hope you enjoyed the weekend in Oignies !!! Bonne route .See you next year ! À l'année prochaine...
Ginny Priestley: Thank you everyone for the warm welcome you gave John and I, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit and look forward to being part of the group in the future. Ginny
Catrin Davies: Merci millefois pour l'accueil si chalereux! X Thank you for such a warm welcome! X
Helen Bloomfield: Merci beaucoup pour ce merveilleux moment xxx
Chris Clegg: Merci mille fois à tous nos amis français pour une visite formidable. En hâte de vous revoir bientôt! XX