The PARTNERS of a North Craven guesthouse were received as guests of honor at a French Mediterranean seaside resort twinned with Settle.
Kate Howard and Ian Owen, owners of Shepherds Cottage B&B in Chapel-le-Dale, took a week in May to travel to southwestern France, visiting the Tarn region and the coastal area around the Eastern Pyrenees.
Aware that the seaside town of Banyuls-sur-Mer was twinned with the neighboring town of Settle, they decided to write to the mayor, Mr. Jean Michel Sole, to introduce themselves and organize a meeting with him and give him some gifts from the Dales .
Ian explained that he was intrigued to find out why two completely different towns had already twinned.
He said: “The two places couldn’t be more different – Banyuls is a beautiful seaside resort on the Mediterranean, six or seven miles from Spain, surrounded by lush vineyard terraces and enjoying 300 days or more of sunshine. uninterrupted – and, as much as we obviously love Settle and the Dales, we struggled to find an obvious connection.
Arrived in Banyuls, they go to the Town Hall on the promenade. A lady, who introduced herself as the mayor’s representative, presented them with a souvenir mug, a DVD of Banyuls history and a bottle of red wine from one of the local vineyards.
In return, Kate and Ian gave him a box of Settle fudge and two mugs with cartoon sheep on them.
They were ushered into the mayor’s office, where a tapestry hung celebrating the links between the two cities.
The deputy mayor then telephoned a local general practitioner, Dr Pierre Francis, Banyuls president of the Settle / Banyuls Twinning Association.
The handset was handed over to Kate, who speaks a little French, and Dr Francis explained to her that in anticipation of their visit, a local restaurant had been booked for eight that evening and that the seven members of the association matchmaking would be there.
Feeling somewhat overwhelmed and slightly embarrassed, Kate insisted that neither of them had come in an official capacity and that they didn’t think such hospitality was necessary.
Despite this, Dr Francis insisted that they both attend the meal – at Fanal, a Michelin-starred restaurant, overlooking the marina.
Kate said: “Pierre told me that it was very important that we discuss the issues related to Banyuls and Settle.”
Both attended the five-course meal, graciously provided by the Banyuls association, and despite Ian’s lack of spoken French, had a good time with the association members, who had a good working knowledge of Settle. and the Dales.
They expressed some sadness that since the establishment of the twinning links in 1992, a number of members of the Settle association have died or have become too old to continue the administration of the group, and that the representatives of Banyuls have keen to rekindle the relationship with new, young people from the Settle area.
Ian and Kate left Banyuls excited about the twinning deal.
Ian said: “We discussed a number of opportunities for the future – a reciprocal food and drink fair, showcasing each city’s products and drinks; walking group exchanges, to enjoy some of the spectacular hikes to be done around this part of the French coastline – they even have a network of caves in the nearby Pyrenees, similar to that of Ingleton.
If anyone in or around Settle would like to get involved in the reform of a Settle / Banyuls twinning association, contact Ian and Kate at Shepherds Cottage by email at [email protected] or call 015 242 42377 .