Verwood and Three Legged Cross Twinning Association - UK

 2014 to France
"17+ years of community support in Verwood."



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The Verwood Twinning Association 
accompanied by Verwood Concert Brass 
visited our friends in "Champtoceaux & its Canton" 
Between Thursday the 28th August, and Monday the 1St Sept 2014.

A "Solent Coaches" coach left Verwood on Wednesday the 27th August 2014 at 17:30 p.m. with a party of Twinning and members of  "Verwood Concert Brass" bound for Portsmouth and the Ferry to St Malo. An additional 4 members of Verwood Concert Brass were picked up in Portsmouth.

The party docked in St Malo at 07:30 hrs ready for the trip to Champtoceaux and after a short stop near Rennes and an unexpected detour near to Champtoceaux we arrived slightly later than expected at about 12:30 hrs.

Having climbed the hill after crossing the Loire at Oudon we arrived at the "Jardins du siège de la communauté de communes à Champtoceaux" for a reception ("Coteau de Layon" wine) and welcome speeches. 

Small receptions were quite frequent throughout the visit so it is perhaps as well that no members of the English party were driving.

After all those who were visiting for the first time were introduced to their hosts we all left for "Déjeuner, après-midi et soirée en famille".

Friday the 29th of August 2014.

Our friends in Champtoceaux had arranged a full day of excursions to places in the Saumur region. For those with plenty of energy the coach left St. Sauveur de Landemont at 07:15 hrs and Champtoceaux at 07:30 hrs for the Journey to the "Château de Brézé" 

The underground fortress of Brézé , which resides under the main Château is the largest of its kind in Europe and is one of the most remarkable monuments of the Loire Valley, the fortress of Brézé is a voyage into the bowels of the earth.

The Main "Château de Brézé"  and the passage to the Underground Fortress.


After the visit to the Chateau the group left by coach for lunch in the "Cave troglodytique -  Les Pieds Bleus" where other members (who preferred a more liesurely day) joined the main group.

Les Pieds Bleus restaurant has several menus with products of the cave: snails, mushrooms and the famous regional speciality : “the fouée” (the delicious dough worked and baked in front of you, in an oven as it has always been done). Below is the menu offered to the group with of course wine which was included with the meal.




Assiette de la Cave

- large mushroom stuffed with rough pork pâté
- Onions and chopped bacon in special bread
- Oyster mushrooms in garlic cream

Special hot bread “the fouée".

With salted butter, rough pork pâté
Mushrooms of Paris , white beans in “sauce maison”

Hot cheese on special bread



The "Cave aux Moines" were dug from the 12th century onwards to extract “the tuffeau” stone,  which was used in many of the local buildings. They were used as far back as the beginning of the 20th century to cultivate mushrooms.


During the tour, the group was taken back in time and started with a presentation in a small museum where  the origin of mushroom cultivation in the cave was explained.

It then continued in the galleries where it was seen how cultivation is done today with different kinds of mushroom (mushroom of Paris), the oyster mushroom (pleurote), the blue stam (pied bleu) and the shi-také (asian mushroom).

In another gallery it was explained how the galleries were dug in order to extract “the tuffeau" stone, which was used to construct castles, houses, cathedrals etc.

Snails are one of the specialities of the restaurant, so it was interesting to see these in a special room where we were told all about  how they live, and reproduce.

One little incident happened while on the tour in the caves in that one French host (who shall be nameless), while backing up to take a photograph, backed into and stuck to a large fly paper attached to the wall. She had to be rescued by the Mayor of Champtoceaux, much to the amusment of the other French hosts who were nearby.

After leaving the "Cave aux Moines" the group visited 'des caves "Bouvet-Ladubay"' for a wine tasting.

Saturday the 30th of August 2014.

Most members of the group met a "l'lLette" which is a park in the valley in the pretty village of St. Saveur de Landemont (which is one of 9 members of the Canton) at around 11:30 hrs.

Initially entertainment was provided by Melodie and Les Cols verts de Champtoceaux which is normally a marching band. Before long however members of the Verwood Concert Brass joined in, forming a massed band. One problem was the size of the music with 4 people squinting at a small piece of card on a music stand.

Later the Verwood Concert Brass gave a short concert which was enjoyed by all prior to having another apéritif provided by the Comité de Jumelage. Many enjoyed a picnic followed by more musical items while some went to their hosts for lunch.

The Verwood Concert Brass outdoor Concert  in front of a very appreciative audience


Later on most people met  again outside the Mairie in St. Sauveur de Landemont where starting  at 17:00 hrs the Verwood Concert Brass gave a much appeciated free concert for 1.5 hrs followed yet again with another apéritif provided by the group Melodie.

Sunday the 31st of August 2014.

At 11:00 hrs many locals including the Verwood group arrived outside the church at Liré. As people left the service they were entertained by " Verwood Concert Brass" playing their first short session of the day.


The Polish Dancers "Wici de Pologne"  then danced in front of the church followed by the Breton dancers "La Javelle d'Ancenis 44"  and then "La Conquerante de Couffe" band performed.

A cavalcade of old cars and military vehicles (mainly American and French) formed a procession past the church.

This was  joined by "La Conquerante de Couffe" and followed by horses, donkeys, cattle, carts and many old pieces of farm machinery including tractors of all shapes and sizes. The more interesting were the speciality tractors used in wine growing.

This procession wended its way up the hill to the field where the 37th anniversary of the "Comme dans l'temps" took place at the farm of Grand Plessis. 

Shortly after arrival at the field speeches were made by the different invited groups and the Chairman of Verwood Twinning gave his speech (in French).

He presented his opposite number with the gift of a Glass sculpture designed locally in the New Forest by Angela Perrett in her Hillview Studio near Ringwood.

On the field there was  entertainment all day on the stage. There were many stalls, refreshment tents and a small museum in the old farm house showing lace making. There were tractor and carriage rides with demonstrations of threshing and wood sawing using the old farm equipment. The Verwood Concert Brass gave at least 3 exceptionally well received concerts in different areas of the field.

Monday the 1st of September 2014.

The Verwood party arrived rather bleary eyed at "place Paul Deltombe à Champtoceaux"  ready for a 06:00 hrs start to catch the 10:30 hrs sailing from St Malo back home with friendships having been renewed and many new ones made.

It was very pleasing to have  " Verwood Concert Brass" with us again as they were involved in the very first twinning visit from Champtoceaux in 1984 when they played a memorable concert with "La Val Chantant" in the then recently opened Liesure Centre at the then Safeways centre. 

Unfortunately since then "La Val Chantant" has disbanded after the loss of their conductor and this year the Liesure Centre was reduced to rubble to make way for the new Morrisons supermarket but "Verwood Concert Brass" goes from strength to strength expecially since they own their own band hall which replaced the old TocH Hut.

Thanks must go to our hosts, Champtoceaux and its canton for the warm welcome. Thanks must also go  " Verwood Concert Brass" and the Organisers in the Twinning Association for all their hard work and support in organising the visit. We can only hope that the VCB will come with us again, perhaps when we visit Liederbach.



pictures and text by Stuart Clifton.



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