2009 – Town Twinning visit

Franconville – Town twinning 8th – 10th May

Skip and two Scout delegates attended the tripartite twinning event in Franconville, where they met some of the local Scouts as well as discussing the details of a joint camp in France. 

Meeting with the Scouts & Leaders of Franconville

The leader of the Scout section is Guillaume. He is pictured in blue uniform to Skip’s left.

While in Franconville, we also explored a little of Paris and visited the beautiful and majestic Chateau de Versailles.

The Franconville Group that we are linked with are members of the Scouts and Guides of France. This association is one of the five that make up the French Federation. It also has the largest membership of the five.

Day 1

We met at Crews Hill station at 8:00am, then got on the train and headed for Kings Cross. When we arrived, we went through some security checks, then rushed to our platform and boarded the Eurostar, heading for Gare du Nord. On the way there, Skip was introduced to Nintendogs on Nintendo DS. We talked a lot and did crosswords and Sudokus, and Skip “made friends” with some ladies who were sitting opposite him. It was great fun. But there was a lot more to come!

When we reached Gare du Nord, we met our hosts, it appeared that Skip was staying with one family, and Emily and I with the other. Unfortunately, neither of us knew much French, and the families did not know much English, but luckily Skip was there to translate. We got on yet another train, with our hosts, to Paris, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. We visited lots of monuments, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, a crypt and generally just wandering the streets, where we bought some lovely souvenirs. We were going to go up the Eiffel Tower, but unfortunately the top floor was closed, so we gave it a miss.

We then travelled back to our hosts houses on a Double-Decker train, had a laugh about whether it was best to say ‘Comment t’appelles- tu’ or ‘Comment tu t’appelles’, and got to know some of the people we would be staying with. Everyone was invited back to the house where Emily and I would be staying for dinner. After that we went straight to bed. We’d had a long day of walking and our feet were aching and sore.

Day 2

Emily and I did not have a very good sleep – there was only one double blanket and it was not very big. We got up and had breakfast; chocolate milk, bread and toast and we met their guinea- pig, whose name was Chocolat! We spent most of the day at a castle called ‘Chateau de Versailles’, on the outskirts of Paris. In the garden there were trees and grass as far as the eye could see; there was even a boating lake! It was absolutely beautiful and Skip bought us all huge ice-creams too which were really nice. We went bowling that night, and Skip thrashed us all! I was rubbish, but afterwards we played air hockey and table football and I was better at that.

We went back to Skip’s hosts’ flat and they had set out delicacies on plates, I didn’t really like the look of any of them, but I had to be polite and eat some. I ate some bread and potatoes and a few tomatoes, which I liked, then I decided to be brave and tried some spiced ham which I really didn’t like. There were a few more things like asparagus and cooked tomatoes absolutely smothered in garlic, which I couldn’t eat either. Skip encouraged us to eat this “sausage” which looked rather questionable , and we persuaded him to not to tell us what it was as we thought saying it might put us off our dinner. We found out afterwards it was intestines, yum!

Day 3

We went to a big theatre where the mayor of Franconville recited his speech, followed by some little girls doing a flower fairy dance. Then the mayor of Viernheim read his speech in German, with a bit of French and English, when he had finished, we saw some clowns doing an act involving a piano, which was really funny. Finally a letter by the Mayor of Potters Bar was read by the Chairman of the Potters Bar Twinning Committee, after which there were some more dancers. Afterwards, we had a lovely lunch in the large theatre auditorium and we made friends with a friendly German schoolboy who spoke very good English.

We then travelled to a nearby Scout HQ with our hosts, where some younger French Cubs were mixing up some mud and water. They were so dirty and their uniforms were splattered with it. Apparently they were making the base of an altar fire, a type fire which is set on an elevated base, so that the ground underneath is protected.

After saying goodbye to everyone, we got our bags and left for the station. We got on the Eurostar and a short time later we were back in “sunny” England. Overall I’d say it was a brilliant trip and I would love to do it all over again! I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to take part in the joint camps that we have planned for the future months.

Narrative by Becky Harvey, Patrol Leader of the Eagle Patrol