There were two visits from Ruthin to Briec in 1997.
The first of these, in August, was to participate in the Briec Music Festival. a Modern Dance group from Ysgol Brynhyfryd, the River City Jazzmen, and Dawnswyr Delyn represented the rich musical culture of North Wales.
October saw the 'official' exchange visit, with the usual convivial hospitality with plenty of ad hoc singing and the inevitable Breton dancing, as well as an excellent mix of interesting visits.
The photographs show the performers at the festival, social events, a joint committee meeting, and the visits - as varied as the magnificent church and 'calvaire' at nearby Pleyben, a biscuit bakery, and the incinerator close to Briec, which processes much of the region's refuse. We also enjoyed a visit to a nursery specialising in the growing of Chrysanthemums, which French families traditionally place on family graves on All Saints' Day.
And there was the CCCC - Cornouaille-Cymru Conker Contest. If the Breton representative won this, could it be because he had supplied the conkers?
In October the bi-annual visit of our own association members took place. Twenty-one members in all went over in several cars, setting off on Friday 22 and returning on Wednesday 27 after breaking the journey at a hotel in Portsmouth. A detailed account of the visit appeared in the local press in November.
Suffice to say that the welcome from the Briecois was as warm as ever and they succeeded in finding new and interesting places for us to see, notably a dairy farm, a cider and buckwheat festival and the reconstructed mediaeval village of Melrand in the Morbihan.
Following the cancellation of our visit to Briec, planned for Spring 2001, because of the foot and mouth epidemic, we had some catching up to do. We duly fitted in a visit in each direction in 2002.
At Easter a party of about 40 of us headed for Briec, mostly using the usual coach/ferry method. Alas Bank Holiday is not the ideal time to be on the motorway through the West Country and it took us the best part of twelve hours to reach Plymouth. Fortunately that was the only bad feature of what tumed out to be one of most enjoyable trips since the twinning began. It appears that the Briec committee had so many offers of accommodation for us that they deliberately placed us with people who had not been hosts before. By all accounts everyone was well pleased. And, of course, the regulars had plenty of opportunities to renew their ties with old friends too. As we had four full days there this time there was more time for people to do their own thing.
Nevertheless one of the highlights was certainly a day into which were crammed a boat trip on the Odet, a visit to a tulip farm, an excellent lunch (of course!) and a visit to a lambig (cider brandy) distillery. Nor can we fail to mention The Welsh Tea Dance' at which several hundred Briecois partook not only of the tea and the dancing but of Welsh cakes, bara brith and products generously provided by Patchwork and Llaeth-y-Llan.
This year it was Ruthin's turn to visit Briec and on Thursday, 28 April a party of 37 people from Rhuthun, including the Mayor and 10 who were visiting Briec for the first time met outside the Town Hall at 6.30am to board a coach for Birmingham Airport. This was the first time for us to travel to Briec by air as the new service from Birmingham to Brest only commenced in March of this year. After a 2 hour coach journey and a 1 hour flight we duly arrived at Brest at 1.00pm French time and were met by 6 members of the Briec Twinning Committee.
They had arranged a picnic lunch for us on arrival but as it was pouring with rain they had to very quickly change the location. After some animated discussion and driving around for a while, the coach eventually pulled into the covered car park of the Leclerc Hypermarché, where we ate our picnic!! At least we were dry and the picnic was typically Breton – ham and pate baguettes, tomatoes and a choice of white wine, red wine or beer! This was followed with freshly peeled apples and coffee. Having made use of the facilities at Leclerc (!) we reboarded the coach for a trip around Brest.
We then proceeded to Briec Town Hall where we received a warm welcome from the Mayor, Jean Paul Le Pann, and met our hosts for the next five nights. Later that evening we were entertained to dinner at Edern. On Friday we went on a coach tour to the Cap Sizun area, visiting the mediaeval village of Pont Croix (where we were joined by 4 other Rhuthun people, who had travelled by car and ferry) and the sailing resort of Audierne, where we had an excellent lunch. After lunch we visited a snail farm and some Breton snails have now found a home in the Vale of Clwyd! During a pleasant walk along the coastal path at la Pointe de Brézellec we were fortunate enough to see two dolphins in the bay. On returning to Briec the two committees held a joint meeting as is our custom each year before returning to Edern for a crêpes and games evening. Great fun!.
Saturday and Sunday were free days with our hosts and different people did different things although quite a few managed to get as far as Quimper. Saturday evening was the night of Bagad Brieg’s annual Fest Noz to which we were all invited. This was held at Arthémuse, the new concert and convention centre opened in 2000. Over 1000 people came to the Fest Noz and it was great to see so many young people taking part in traditional Breton dances. Before going to the Fest Noz, some of us planted potatoes by torchlight, but that is another story!! At 9.00am on Monday we left Place de Ruthin in Briec to visit the Huelgoat area where we toured the site of an old silver mine and, after another excellent lunch, went walking around some remarkable rock formations. Monday evening we returned to Arthémuse for dinner with our hosts and members of the Briec Twinning Committee.
On Tuesday morning we all gathered at the Intermarché supermarket in Briec for a farewell drink and cake before leaving for Brest Airport at 11.30am to catch the 1.25pm flight to Birmingham, arriving home in Rhuthun at 4.30pm our time. This was by far the least tiring way of travelling to Briec. Long may the flights continue!
Briec 1997 - 2005