Newsletter 18 – May 2016

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Visit to Voiron May 2016 – Celia Haddock

We arrived in Voiron on Thursday afternoon and were met at the airport by our hosts to begin what turned out to be a memorable visit.At 7.00 pm that evening we were given a warm welcome when visitors and hosts gathered for a glass of wine and nibbles, and where we had the opportunity to meet new friends, practise our French and take part in the first event of the weekend. This first night is always enjoyable and this year, the third official visit to Voiron, one felt that relationships had really started to bond.

Friday was a beautiful warm sunny day. Voiron is surrounded by trees, mountains and wild flowers, all in bloom at this time of the year, and in the sunshine the views were magnificent. Following a typical French breakfast of fresh bread, home- made jam, cake and fruit we walked into the centre of Voiron to familiarise ourselves with the town and the atmosphere. Some people went up into the mountains. At 12.30 p.m. fourteen of us, English and French, met for lunch in the centre of the town. It was noisy, it was fun and the food was superb.

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Friday night bowling with a difference!

In the afternoon a game of boules, “la lyonnaise”, had been planned in the local sportsarena. This was really a lesson in how to play the game, which is similar to pétanque, but using a larger ball and the rules are different. A couple of the locals showed their proficiency for hitting the centre ball from quite a distance.

At the end of the session the sun was still shining so a group of us drove to Le Lac Paladru and walked along the bank for about an hour. The water looked very blue in the sunshine. Along the lake is Le Bois d’Amour, a wood reputed to be a place for courting couples, but now an area of restaurants and cafes offering many places to relax and soak up the beauty of the lake.

By Saturday the weather had changed and it was cold and dull. But not to worry, because a coach trip to Lyon had been organised.Lyon was famous for silk weaving in the 13th and 14th centuries and part of the old town still has the original buildings that housed the silk weavers. These tall apartments, set on the banks of the Croix-Rousse, are ancient covered passageways called traboules, for which Lyon is famous.

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Wall art in Lyon. Believe it or not, the wall is completely flat!

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Silk weaving


We visited a traditional Silk weaving factory. This working factory is very small now with only around seven or eight skilled weavers operating a mechanical wooden Jacquard loom with shuttles and spools of coloured silk. We were given a demonstration of the skill needed to produce beautiful patterned silk fabrics. The Jacquard Method is named after Joseph Marie Jacquard who invented the loom in 1804. Mr Jacquard had worked out how to create a pattern using a number of punched cards where one complete card corresponds to to one row of the design.

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Packed lunch in Lyon

Using replaceable punch cards to control a sequence of operations is considered to be an important step in the history of computing. Although the factory we visited is a working factory, today the process is extremely slow and production is limited to very specialised orders for reparation of historical silk fabrics.

The final Sunday was extremely cold and those brave enough to venture into the mountains were rewarded with magnificent views. Sipping coffee in a wooden hut while watching the children snowballing on the 1st of May was magical.

On Sunday evening everyone assembled for more food at the local tennis club and for the traditional farewells. Our French hosts had provided home-cooked salads, meats, the usual fresh bread and cheeses followed by fresh strawberries, fruit salad and a variety of desserts. The room was decorated with bunting of Union Jacks, and explaining to the French why the white stripes on the flag are uneven proved to be entertaining.

Our French hosts in Voiron could not be more friendly, fun-loving and welcoming. Droitwich Spa is very fortunate to have twinned with such a beautiful town.

A Message from the Chairman

The visit to Voiron is now history and I trust that everyone who travelled to Voiron had an enjoyable time and arrived home safely. We look forward to seeing our French friends in Droitwich next year.

On a more serious note, you are aware that I stayed on as chairman for a third year at our November AGM because no-one was prepared to come forward to replace me.
I do not want to remain in the chair for another year and we urgently need a vice-chair to come onto the committee with a view to gaining experience of the workings of the Group and chairing it for the year 2016/2017.

Of course, we are all aware that the Group does not run itself and requires a strong committee so we are also looking for new committee members to help the Group continue to operate successfully.

Please give serious thought to taking on the role of chairperson and serving on the committee.

Twinning Visit 2017

We can announce that next year’s twinning visit by our friends from Voiron will be Thursday 27th April to Monday 1st May 2017.

Inter-Town Twinning Quiz 15 April 2016 – Carol Nott

Droitwich Spa French Twinning hosted this year’s quiz on 15 April at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, following the victory by the Hazlewood and Johns’ team in 2015. Planning had started early in the New Year and there was lots of interest, culminating in fourteen teams entering the competition. Six teams entered from neighbouring towns, namely Malvern, Bromsgrove, Tenbury Wells and Solihull with the remainder coming from Droitwich Spa and District.

The Quizmaster, David Pearson, did a sterling job and all participants agreed that the questions he presented were interesting, varied and a good exercise for the grey matter! During the half-hour interval, raffle tickets were sold and there was a very topical picture question on EU countries where each country had to be identified from its shape.

Supper was provided at this point for all 85 quizzers, with assistance from the team of helpers, and this comprised a ploughman’s platter followed by a slice of warm tarte Tatin served with crème fraîche.

Droitwich Spa French Twinning combined with the town’s German Twinning Group to provide one official team for Droitwich Spa but were dreadfully disappointed when they did not win and the trophy went instead to Tenbury Wells, who have to be congratulated on an excellent result!


Well, we’ve won it. now what do we do with it?


Peter Cole holds the trophy for Tenbury

A Day out in Chambéry – Mike Nott

The Twinning visit to Voiron allows for lots of free time and on the Friday, our host, Hélène Leblanc, took Carol and me by bus to Chambéry on the fringe of the Chartreuse mountains, some thirty miles to the north-east of Voiron. There, on a fine, sunny day, we met up for lunch with her son, Nicolas, who lives in the town.

Chambéry is a pretty town, the old capital of the Savoy region since the 13th century until, in 1563, the region’s capital became Turin. The town possesses many fine buildings but the most famous is the Fontaine des Éléphants (Elephants Fountain). It was built in 1838 to honour Benoît de Boigne’s feats when he was in India. The fountain has strikingly realistic sculptures of the head and forelimbs of four lifesize elephants truncated into the base of a tall column in the shape of the savoyan cross, topped by a statue of de Boigne.

Elephant Fountain

Elephant Fountain

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Elephant Fountain

Coincidentally, Chambéry is thought to be on the route taken by Hannibal Barca in the third century BC before he famously crossed the Alps with elephants in his campaign against the Romans, but there is no connection between Hannibal and the fountain.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

The cathedral dates from the 15th century when it was built as a Franciscan chapel. It is remarkable for what appears to be an ornately carved nave but which, in reality, is a painted illusion – the largest ‘trompe l’oeil’ in Europe, covering some 6000 sq metres.

Painted 'carvings' in the cathedral

Painted ‘carvings’ in the cathedral

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Painted ‘carvings’

In 1532, the Holy Shroud, thought to be the burial shroud of Christ, suffered damage from a fire in a chapel in Chambéry, where it was stored. A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. In 1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the cloth to be brought from Chambéry to Turin and it has remained at Turin ever since.



A day out would not be complete without a good lunch and a restaurant in the Town Hall Square provided excellent local specialities.

All too soon, it was time to catch the bus back to Voiron along with a large number of school children going home for the weekend from the local boarding school.


2016 Events

Do remember to check out the Events page for the latest programme and updates and join us for some fun!

Nuts about Voiron?

Walnuts galore! Le Grand Séchoir-3055 DSFTG small vnThe area around Voiron is noted for them. Did you know…

  • The Romans introduced walnuts from the east to Europe.
  • There is an AOC (controlled designation of origin – as for champagne!) since 1938 and protected status (AOP) since 1996 for Grenoble walnuts
  • There are 3 varieties: “la franquette”,” la parisienne”, and “la mayette.”
  • The botanical  name Juglans regia comes from the association with Jupiter, so you are enjoying Jove’s royal nuts!
  • Vinay, just half an hour’s drive from Voiron, hosts a walnut museum, Le Grand Séchoir, and a walnut festival in November of alternate (even) years.
  • They’re not nuts! Technically a walnut is the seed of a drupe or drupaceous nut, but who cares – crack on!

Why not try out these Dauphinois walnut recipes?

And finally..

Some members may be interested in these classes.


Avoncroft Art centre and Chaddesley Corbett village hall

Thursday: 7.00 – 9.00

Level 1
Thursday 1.30 – 3.30

Level 2
Tuesday 7.00 – 9.00

Wednesday: 7.00 – 9.00
Friday: 2.00 – 4.00

Tuesday: 10.00 – 12.00
Wednesday: 10.00 – 12.00
Friday: 9.30 – 11.30

French in your company
One to one/group tuition is available throughout the year

French native speaker with 30 years teaching experience

TEL: 01527 878493/07802 637093

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