On the 2017 Twinning weekend the Winchester-Laon Twinning Association entertained 64 visitors from our partner city, a beautiful mediaeval town in Picardy for an action-packed weekend. Saturday was spent in Winchester or at Romsey's Beggars' Fair and in the evening a French choir and Hampshire's 'Madding Crowd' gave a joint concert.

Sunday brought a visit to Portsmouth with visits to the Historic Dockyard and Nelson's flagship HMS Victory. In the evening everyone attended a hog roast where there were short speeches by the presidents of both Laon and Winchester branches of the Association and by Winchester's Mayor, David McLean and Laon's Deputy Mayor, Philippe Mozin. Live music was provided and members enjoyed excellent food and drink, not least a Nebuchadnezzar of champagne (equivalent to15 litres) provided by kind French visitors.

The Winchester-Laon Twinning Association was inaugurated in 1991 and by creating this network of friendships, aims to foster an understanding of each country's culture, traditions and histories. In Winchester events with a French flavour are held throughout the year. New members are welcome and it is not essential to speak French although a few words are useful. Guests and hosts always mange to communicate!

Beryl Dixon


We have been invited to Laon for the last Bank Holiday weekend in May, and to avoid the problems we had in 2016 trying to get a Channel crossing on the Friday, we have decided to travel to Calais on the evening of Thursday 24th May and stay in a hotel before continuing to Laon on the Friday. This will also give us time to spend at a place of interest en route. We will leave Laon on the morning of Monday 28th May and arrive in Winchester later that day.

We are currently waiting for quotations from a number of coach companies. The company we used in 2016 has ceased trading, and from the one quote we have received so far it is clear that the cost per person will be significantly higher than the £90 we charged in 2016. That year we filled a 53-seater coach as we had a lot of choir members with us - this year it is likely that we will have around half that number of people. The overnight stay in the hotel will also add to the cost, of course.

Thanks to all of you who have told us you’d like to join us on the trip to Laon. We do now need a firm commitment so we are asking you please to let us know no later than 16th February to confirm that you intend to join us. At that time we will be asking you for a deposit.

Do please encourage your friends and family to join the Association as we really do need more members, particularly younger people! Note that if we are unable to get sufficient number of people to justify hiring a coach we will have to consider using minibuses (as we did a few years ago) or taking private cars. In general the journey is much more enjoyable in a coach as it feels more like a holiday, and people can chat and get to know one another.