Great Dunmow, a historic town in Essex, has been twinned since 1991 with Dourdan, a beautiful, historic French town (see above). Dourdan is located 30 miles south west of Paris in an ancient royal hunting forest, now a regional park. It has a fine medieval castle and church, and many other lovely old buildings including a timbered market.
Every other year we visit Dourdan for a long weekend in May, staying with host families who provide great hospitality, including accommodation and meals (all we pay for is the coach journey there and back).
Dourdan’s Twinning Association arranges a day trip for everyone to a famous place in France – most recently Amboise on the Loire, previously the royal palaces of Chantilly and Fontainebleau, the artists’ village of Barbizon and Monet’s beautiful garden at Giverny.
On another day our individual hosts each take us somewhere special, and we all get back together for the visit dinner that evening. As a result we get to know delightful French families and renew the close friendships which have blossomed through Twinning.
Dourdan Twinners visit us in alternate years, staying with Dunmow hosts for a long weekend in May. We entertain them in a similar fashion, with a group visit to a place of interest such as Cambridge, Windsor, Bury St Edmunds or Hatfield House. We also take them to our favourite local haunts, rounding off the weekend with a dinner and social evening.
Twinners from the two towns also meet later in the year for a shorter weekend get-together in England (e.g. Dover Castle, Brighton), or France (e.g. historic Arras, or the beautiful Somme Estuary which we toured by vintage steam train).
In addition to Twinning visits, we organise regular social events in Dunmow for our members, such as a Caledonian Evening (Burns Night ‘lite’), a barbecue and a fish & seafood supper, where we have fun, meet our friends and make new ones.
Our members tell us:
“The hospitality of our Dourdan hosts was amazing. We have made some lovely new friends.”
“Monet’s garden at Giverny was wonderful, a truly memorable experience.”
“Twinning events are great value, and the visit dinner was perfect.”