Drayton Twinning

Drayton has been twinned with Lesparre http://www.mairie-lesparre.fr/ since 2000. We are open to all Draytonians; Individuals, Families, Clubs, Churches and Societies. We encourage young and old to share in our activities and extend hospitality to our friends from Lesparre when they visit us and to enjoy their hospitality when we visit them.


Many lasting friendships have been, and are being forged, and not just with friends in Lesparre but between those living in Drayton and we look forward to sharing the experience with new members as we are sure you will find twinning stimulating and worthwhile and hope that you will join us in promoting friendship between the towns. (See the first 10-year history of Drayton/Lesparre twinning below.)

Where is Lesparre? Lesparre-Médoc is a very pleasant town http://www.mairie-lesparre.fr/ with around 5,900 inhabitants located in the south west of France in the region known as the Gironde, or Aquitaine between Bordeaux and the Atlantic Coast. It is in the world famous Médoc wine-growing region and it’s connections with England date back to 1154 beginning with Eleanor of Aquitaine.  She brought it under the English crown in 1152 where it stayed for 300 years, avoiding French taxes and selling us a lot of wine.




Town Hall Lesparre

The famed wine of St Emilion

The famed wine of St Emilion

Our Visits – Typically we visit each other in alternate years. Our itineraries are determined by the make up of the participants. Besides gastronomic delights we have held sporting competitions, visits to Oxford Colleges, Warwick Castle, The Roman Baths, to the Chateau of the Médoc, Lesparre’s annual wine fair and the endless Atlantic Beaches.


2013 – The most recent visits Lesparre visits Drayton

Our visitors travelled by road and ferry; so after a quiet Friday morning and a light lunch we took our visitors to Rousham House and Gardens followed by an evening at home.

The following day we visited Avebury (World Heritage Site) Europe’s largest stone circle and practised the art of dowsing.  This was very much enjoyed by Hosts and Guests.   We visited the market town of Marlborough on the way home for shopping.  In the evening we were all invited to the home of a local French family for a splendid BBQ

On Sunday we parked the coach at Lower Heyford and took the train to Tackley (4 minutes) and then we walked back along the canal taking in several locks.   Lots of activity and Narrow Boat users were impressed to have enthusiastic French people opening the gates for them.    Those less inclined walked from Lower Heyford to the first Lock (our last) where we had a picnic in the sunshine. Red Wine encouraged one boat to take our “non-walkers” back to the Station.   In the evening we had shared suppers in different homes.

For most Monday was a free day to arrange entertainment, for the few we moved the Chairs, Tables and Tent to a new location.    In the evening we had a fancy dress BBQ – the theme being 1980’s as our host family were celebrating their 30th Wedding Anniversary.

Tuesday was our last day and as our guests were catching the overnight boat to Caen this was an excellent opportunity to visit the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth – including the Mary Rose.     There is more to see than can be done in a day.   Amongst other things, our guests were able to see The Victory, The Warrior and enjoy a Harbour Tour. At closing time we walked to “The Trafalgar ” for an excellent supper served by enthusiastic staff – our contact was Jon who is a member of Gosport Twinning.  Then our guests left courtesy of Brittany Ferries.

Want to know more? Please enquire via the website or call

Michael Bell 01235 531388 – Stephen Fearnley 01235 531347 – Bob Matthews 01235 531204)

TWINNING – the first 10 years and how Drayton became Twinned with Lesparre, By Michael Bell

In 1989 after many years of visiting the Médoc region my wife and I bought a house a few miles north of Bordeaux and as part of the purchasing process were introduced to Gisèle Fouillit who undertook the translation for legal documentation on behalf of the Notaire.

1999 – We had become good friends with Gisèle and she introduced us to the Maire (Mayor) of Lesparre http://www.mairie-lesparre.fr/ and a number of other Lesparre people to discuss the opportunity of Twinning. A few Drayton residents were subsequently invited back to discuss it in more detail. Back in the UK an article was written for the Drayton Chronicle to invite villagers to an open meeting to discuss twinning. Both meetings were very positive and that autumn the first group came to Drayton.   During their stay with local people they met Parish Councillor and VWHDC representatives and went home to commend the idea.

2000 – Formal signing in Lesparre during August. Those volunteers attending were overwhelmed with Médocaine hospitality and came home wondering how we could match the occasion in 2001.

2001 – The Twinning group organised various fund raising events with the help of the Church and Residents.   Our Barn Dances, Musical Evening (with Drayton Musicians) were very well supported.   This meant that at our own signing ceremony we were able to provide an excellent cooked lunch – with Medocain wine – to over 100 residents and invited guests. The village was well supported by Banner Homes (Lesparre Close) who provided various things to our community in celebration.

2002 – Drayton families discovered more about the area around Lesparre.  The Medoc has a temperate climate with an average of 2300 hours of sunshine each year; the area boasts a wealth of beautiful chateaux. Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton-Rothschild are just minutes away, as are numerous other very fine Chateaux and smaller vineyards.  Beautiful freshwater lakes and all the attractions of the Atlantic Coast are nearby.  The drive to the coast takes you through the largest pine forest in Western Europe.  Leisure Facilities include cycling, golfing, horse riding, sailing, swimming, sail boarding, walking, plus many other outdoor pursuits.

2003 – We wanted to include the young people of Drayton and with the support of the School a friendly football competition was organised in the morning and we supported the Church Fete in the afternoon.  Lesparre has an International Tournament for young footballers that has been running for over 25 years.  Alan Alston helped with the football at Drayton School; we raised the funds to provide all the children and their parents with lunch at the village hall and a trip to Laser Quest that evening.  The following day we took them to Warwick Castle which suited all age groups and included a reminder of “interesting” historical events between our two nations!


2004 – One of the main events was to spend a day at the “Foire aux Vins” Lesparre’s annual wine fair.  To a wine lover the D2 is simply heaven with one great name quickly following another.  The Maison du Vin in Pauillac sells more than 50,000 bottles a year – all at chateau prices. Besides the trade stands there was other entertainment throughout the day with interesting folklore events culminating in dancing to live music all outside in the warm August sunshine.  We also visited a market on the coast, cruised the Gironde, studied the life of those living in the marshes and had a barbecue at a chateau on the edge of the Gironde.


2005 – Drayton provided the opportunity to introduce English wines to our visitors: one of our trips was to the Vineyard at Hendred!  The young people enjoyed the Maize Maze at Millets and 10-Pin Bowling. Although we had use of the Lesparre coach throughout the weekend, we took a Salter’s Steamer to Oxford and visited The Oxford Story.  On Sunday we risked a visit to Blenheim Palace – with the benefit of a French translator our guests were fascinated by this opportunity.


2006 – Bastille Day was particularly memorable – who could forget that our hosts played the British National Anthem on their National Day during the formal ceremony at the “Monument aux Morts” in the main square to honour those who died in both World Wars?   I guess that doesn’t often happen in France!   During this weekend we took the boat across the Estuary to visit “la citadelle de Blaye” a fort constructed by Vauban. We also enjoyed our first visit to Bordeaux.  There are few more elegant cities than this, unspoilt and historic, guided by our good friends.  The essence of the city is available in one visual sweep from the vantage point of the lovely opera house or the Tour Pey Berland  if you can manage the 240 steps!   Behind is the river, to the right the huge Esplanade Place des Quinconces.  To the left is Rue Saint Catherine – the Oxford Street of Bordeaux.


2007 – Beautiful weather! Ideal for visits to the Oxford Castle and the Botanical Gardens. On a brilliant day we went to Bath, enjoying the Roman Baths and an open top bus tour. The weather was perfect for our promenade over Wittenham Clumps for a glorious picnic at Days Lock where we introduced Pooh Sticks to our guests.  One group continued the walk to visit Dorchester and the Abbey.   This weekend dispelled all rumours of it always raining in the UK!


2008 – Our group arrived in Lesparre in private cars, a camper van and by air as more Draytonians decided to stay on beyond the twinning formalities.   We spent a day at Le Verdon for various seafaring ceremonies, strolling along the beach and finally being treated to a magnificent Firework display at the mouth of the Gironde.  Another day we had a very enjoyable time visiting Saint-Emilion.  Even those that had visited before had never visited the Monolithic Church and the vast caverns below the town.

What is Twinning? The concept of twinning originated in Europe as early as the turn of the century, and it is here that it has expanded most remarkably over the past 50 years. The basis of twinning is deeply rooted in friendship, with the main aims being to enable different communities to exchange experience of their history, culture and contemporary life-style, and thus increase mutual understanding, tolerance and respect.

The first modern twinning in the UK was between Keighley in West Yorkshire and Poix du Nord in France in 1920. Twinning links increased rapidly in the post World War Two era, assisting the process of peace and reconciliation, and leading to the formal twinning of towns which had not long before been engaged in armed combat.

In 1988, the European Parliament adopted a twinning report on the initiative of one of its Members. The report drew attention to the very considerable contribution twinning has made to creating a European awareness.

The UK is a leading protagonist in the twinning field with many hundreds of twinnings. In the European ranking it closely follows the examples set by France and Germany. The UK’s major twinning partners are France, Germany, USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland, but UK twinnings are global, including links with China, Japan, Argentina and many Commonwealth countries.

By the early 1990s communities started to re-evaluate the content of their twinning relationships and this time saw a noticeable trend towards the economic and technical aspects of twinning as well as the creation of more multi-lateral relationships.

Central and Eastern Europe became a more attractive option and twinning activity with these particular countries began to climb steadily towards today’s encouraging situation.

In order to get to know people and make new friends, one of the most important aspects of twinning is to host guests, and be hosted by them.  Besides making interesting visits locally and further afield, one of the most enjoyable parts of our weekends is to enjoy communal meals together – sometimes with entertainment.

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