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In 1996, following a change of French committee members and chairman, we started arranging additional reciprocal visits for smaller groups interested in walking and cycling.

 

In September ’96 the first group of 12 came over in three cars with bikes on the car roofs. We took them on a leisurely thirty-mile cycle ride via Henfield that included part of the old railway route to Southwater, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch by the lake. The evening was spent entertaining our guests with a relaxing meal, and they returned to France on the Sunday.

 

Since then these ‘mini-weekends’ (mainly walking) have proved extremely popular and,so far, we have managed to fit in an ‘extra’ trip each year, alternating with the hosting/visiting set-up of the main Exchange Visits. They tend to be smaller groups (10-20) with people going in their own transport and sharing where possible.

 

In 1998 a trip to St Martin, for a walk across the bay to Mont St. Michel, proved to be so popular that we were asked to limit the party to 25! (Including the French, we totalled nearly 80!).   In May 2010 we were invited to do this again.  This was great fun and we were lucky enough to have a sunny day even though the wind was a little keen.

 

We are always well entertained and treated to the true French hospitality. It’s a wonderful way to experience real (not tourist!!) France. Also, it's a good chance to practice any French you may know, but speaking the language is not essential.