At the Odenwald Association’s meeting of Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Elaine Mitchell, Chairperson of Falkirk District Twinning Association, (FDTA) and former Secretary of the Odenwald Association, came along with three other members of the FDTA, Councillor Pat Reid, Ian Burt, and Laura McEwan, to talk to us about the twinning link with Créteil, a large town to the south-east of Paris.
The Métro takes only 40 minutes to get from Créteil into the centre of Paris, and Eurodisney is not far away, which proves especially popular with the high school pupils.
Elaine gave us a short overview of the town, with its 95,000 inhabitants of mixed ethnicity, and showed photos of the old town and the newer, very modern buildings. Other photos showed exchange visits to Falkirk and Créteil.
Pat then told us about the history of the twinning link, which began in the early 1980’s, and was intended from the start to involve the ordinary people from both communities, as well as more official representatives. Since then, there have been all sorts of exchanges with disabled groups, sports teams, dancers, musicians, schools, and even two marriages!
Ian shared some amusing personal anecdotes with us and emphasised the benefits of twinning for all concerned, e.g. friendships and language development, for adults and children alike.
Laura, Modern Languages teacher at Graeme High, told us how her twinning experiences began as an exchange student, and all about the five visits she has since led to Créteil, for occasions like the popular Fête de Juin. She is hoping for even stronger links in the future as a result of the new initiative between the Scottish Parliament and the Institut Français.
The Wee Tree Theatre will be heading over there soon, and a staff member from Denny Library will be visiting the new Médiathèque. During questions from the floor, Councillor Spears took the opportunity to point out that twinning organisations like ours are in a good position to promote Falkirk as a tourist destination, and that tourism brings quite a lot of money into the area.
Our Chairman, Walter, thanked Elaine and the team for a most interesting and insightful talk. Members then enjoyed a mix of French and German snacks, including crusty baguette with garlic cheese, and madeleine cakes.