After 9 years of Bath petanque players visiting our twin city of Aix-en-Provence, we were able to return the hospitality at last when four intrepid Aixois spent the weekend of 22nd-25th June in Bath.
Joachim, Bernard, Renee and Lili were sponsored by the Bath/Aix Twinning Association and the City of Bath Petanque Club to play in the Bath Boules tournament in Queen Square on Saturday. Inevitably the French team ‘Les Aixois’ sailed through all the heats to the play offs in the afternoon. They were visited by the new Mayor of Bath, Councillor Andrew Furse, and the Mayoress, Mrs Mei-Ling Chou Furse, who are firm supporters of the city’s Twinning Associations. The distinguished visitors chatted to the French team and watched them play a few ends, before touring the square to greet other players.
In the afternoon the rain came down in torrents, some home ground players hoped that this would put the French off their game, but they were as strong as ever and finally won the Saturday trophy. Joachim said that he would remember those games in the pouring rain for the rest of his life!
Saturday evening saw the team drying off and sharing pizza with some of their hosts from the City of Bath Petanque Club, and they headed for town on Sunday morning for some sight-seeing and to take advantage of the ‘soldes’ on in the shops.
After a convivial lunch with more members of the Bath club, all set off to the Compton Inn at Compton Dando for a friendly ‘melee’ with Clive de Silva’s petanque players. Mixing the nationalities up (French, Bath & Somerset) meant that only one of the French was victorious this time, and we managed to provide a little sunshine for a while.
The Aixois and Bathonians then left the Comptons to the pleasure of Euro football while we sought a farewell ‘repas’ in Bath, hitting upon the delights of Martini Restaurant where we ate splendidly and still caught the end of the football, in the company of delighted Italians.
The Bath petanquers who joined in the various activities made the visitors very welcome, dusting off their half remembered school French to discuss food and football, as well as stepping in to help with arrangements when needed. The French delivered various gifts and mementos sent by the Jumelages d’Aix-en-Provence which reminded us of our visits to that lovely warm area.
The French visitors returned to Aix-en-Provence full of praise for the warm welcome they received from all the people they met, and despite the weather, are hopeful of returning with others in the future. They look forward to the 10th visit to Aix by Bath petanquers in October of this year.
A big ‘thank you’ and ‘merci beaucoup’ to both Twinning Associations for helping to make this weekend possible, and a special mention for Isobel de Castro for helping with the communication between Lesley and Joachim in the planning stages.
28th June 2012