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Overton-on-Dee is twinned with La Murette, a small village set in the heart of the Isere region of France.
Welcome to the OVERTON TWINNING ASSOCIATION
La Murette is a village near Grenoble in South Eastern France in the departement (county) of Isere. The county is named after the river Isère which flows through the region. The village itself is in a picturesque location with a very fine view of the magnificent mountain ranges of the Chartreuse, the Vercors and the Belledonne These mountains go up to around 10,000 feet and offer a wonderful vista from La Murette. The region is famous for its high quality walnuts and walnut orchards are a prominent feature of the landscape. Five kms from La Murette is the home of world-famous Chartreuse liqueur made by Carthusian monks from a secret mix of local herbs. It reputedly has medicinal properties and is something of an acquired taste. The city of Grenoble, about 30 kms away, is a University town and is a renowned centre for computers, France’s own silicon valley.
Officially we are the La Murette and Overton-on-Dee Twinning Association. We’ve been in existence since 1994, set up as a result of an imaginative and outward-looking idea of the Community Council. (See article about the setting-up).
Twinning associations aim to promote friendship and understanding between countries. Many were set up after World War 2 to help spread peace and understanding and to repair the huge damage caused by the devastating hostilities.
Every person within the parish of Overton, not just the village itself, is automatically a member. There are no membership fees and everyone is made very welcome.
We meet about once a month, usually in someone’s home and from time to time we have social events. The meetings are informal and friendly; there’s always a cup of tea, often cake and sometimes wine. There is one visit a year. Either the French come to Overton or we go over to La Murette.
Our association here in Overton is true to the original spirit of Twinning with goodwill and friendship at its core. Over the past 20 years the links between our villages have gone from strength to strength. The French have been enthusiastic visitors and are always interested to learn about Welsh culture. Culture does cover a very wide range, of course, with beer, dragons, leeks and daffodils being at least as important as castles and history! They also enjoy the food and are often surprised at how good it is. Lemon curd, fish and chips and the full cooked breakfast are all very popular.
During the trip we stay in each others homes and it’s just like staying with friends. In fact it is staying with friends! Everyone is made to feel at home, but there’s no housework to be done and meals appear as if by magic. Apart from the cost of the flight and a gift for one’s hosts, there are no other expenses and no one needs to put their hand in their pocket during the whole visit.
When do the visits take place?
Normally during the first week in August
How long is the trip?
It is usually for six nights and seven days.
How do we get there?
Most people fly. But in the past, people have travelled by train, by mini-bus and by coach. Usually there’s someone who drives down (7 hrs drive from Calais) and one year 2 people cycled all the way!
What costs are involved?
The flight and a gift for the hosts are all that one has to buy. Everything else is covered.
I don’t speak French and feel nervous about staying with a foreign family.
No need to worry! Most of the French now speak English but in any case, everyone tends to get in the spirit and before long people are racking their brains for half-remembered French from school. It’s amazing how much is still there. One thing is certain, no one is ever stuck and judging by the non-stop chatter that goes on, communication is never an issue.
What happens during a visit?
Every day something different takes place from the planned programme of activities and events.
Give me an idea of the sort of things.
A mix of cultural, leisure, culinary and social things. A day doing water-based activities at the lake such as canoeing; a meal in a restaurant; visits to all sorts of museums; wine-tasting at a vineyard, a talk with food and drink at an organic fruit farm, tree walking (like Go Ape), a stroll along a river, a concert. These are all things we’ve done in the past. Every year there’s something different.
And when the French come over here?
The visitors stay in our homes.
Our house is quite small.
No one is expecting luxury, just a normal house probably a bit tidier than usual if you’re like most of us! The main thing is to give a warm welcome and to provide a comfortable bed and some meals. Meals are often shared between families with groups gathering for a barbecue or shared buffet. The most important thing is the social aspect of the exchange.
Who pays for the French when they come to Overton?
The Twinning Association pays for all the visitors’ costs, including outings and restaurant meal. The hosts pay their own costs.
Where does the money come from?
Mostly through fundraising events which take place over the 2 year interval between visits.
These vary from year to year and have included a Wine-tasting evening, a cake stall at the village Fete, a produce stall at a Christmas Fair, a Halloween Disco for the children, a posh dinner and dance and much more. We always have at least 3 events. We need to raise about £2000 annually. In addition, the Community Council support us with a small annual grant.
That all sounds great, how do I get involved?