Clermont L'Herault 2010

Patchway Twinning Association took part in an exchange with its twin town of Clermont L'Herault over the weekend of 24th to the 28th June 2010 to celebrate 15 years from the signing of the charter back in 1995.
To complete the occasion a delegation was invited from Gauting to join us in Clermont.

We all met at Bristol airport and travelled to Beziers where we were met by the town minibus and some private cars that transported us to Salle George Bressens, Clermont, for a civic welcome.

We were suitably greeted and refreshed and then we proceeded to our host's houses for a quick wash and brush up before the weekend activities commenced.

Friday evening in the town was the Celebration of Sports and this turned out to be a wonderful occasion where the sportsmen/women/boys and girls were presented with their awards. The town council donated some unique sports shirts to mark the occasion.

It was interesting to find that a small town no bigger than Patchway could have so many, town, regional, national and even a world champion amongst its population. They were all passionate about their sports achievements and the appreciation they received from their parents, coaches and the whole town.

After the ceremonies a buffet was laid on and the residents stayed until the early hours, a super example of the town bonding with all of its young people.

Saturday was a long day; we set out from Clermont at 07:30 and proceeded to the port of SETE on the Mediterranean. Next to SETE was the only "mountain" on the coast for hundreds of miles and from the top the views across the town, the sea and the Languedoc were amazing.

We then boarded boats, as the only way to see the town properly was from the canals which run in and around the town. Its also where the Canal du Midi enters the Sea. I thought it was very much like our own city of Bristol until the guide told us that all the berths were FREE, so I changed my mind!!

The 20km beach at Marseillan has formed an inland lake where the water salinity from the sea and the fresh water and nutrients from the incoming rivers has made this the premiere area of France for fattening up oysters and mussels, it takes 1 year instead of 3, and we were taken to one of the big farms in the area for a degustation.

In my experience degustation means "tasting" but this was not a taste this was a veritable feast of sea food. Imagine, from the sea, to the BBQ and onto the table, how fresh is that? and it was consumed with the local famous wine of Pic-Poule de Pinet served freezing cold, mind you it had to be, the temperature had now reached 34C, and of course all this took a very civilised two and a half hours.

We were told afterwards that our group had consumed some 30kg of oysters and mussels and about 40 litres of wine, a real achievement.

We returned to Clermont where we managed a quick siesta (some of us) and then we had our official anniversary dinner.

The function commenced about 20:00 and people started to drift off at about 02:00 (Sunday) It took the form of a well conceived 5 hour dinner dance, with our speeches blending in at the appropriate time. It was one of those occasions where the language barrier just disappeared and networking was a mixture of dance and fun.

Sunday was free up until 17:00 so many hosts took advantage of this time to take Patchway people on individual excursions around the area.

In the evening we all met up at Domaine de la Tour, an old chateaux and winery a couple of kilometres from Clermont. The owner of the property gave us tour of the old buildings and afterwards we attended a concert in the old winery (huge building) directed by the owner of the chateaux, Olivier Pauwell, using the local choir and orchestra of Clermont with three very special soloists who had come from some of the very best schools of opera in the world.
The atmosphere was amazing and the performance was excellent, well to an untrained ear like mine!

When it was over we all retired to the "park land" around the chateaux where we had another leisurely dinner again going on until after midnight. Still with the night time temperature of 25C who could sleep anyway?
It was a wonderful experience, with everyone able to take home their own unique memories to savour; perhaps it will bring some cheer if we are in for another long grey winter.

I was thinking, we could put together a slide show and have a social evening in the long dark winter months, let me know