Friends of Pontoise 160 miles south of Calais and just 20 miles short of Paris lies Pontoise, the picturesque town twinned with Sevenoaks since the early 1960's. A place full of history too, who's origins pre-date Sevenoaks by almost a millennium. The Romans called it Pons Hisarae, from which evolved the current name, Pontoise, the bridge over the river Oise.
Once one of the principal towns in medieval France, its castle provided both a royal residence and an imposing fortress. It became an important centre for skilled craftsmen and a major agricultural market. However, plague, war and revolution all took their toll and several centuries of decline followed. It wasn't until the coming of the railway that Pontoise saw a revival in its fortunes. It was then that the impressionist painters discovered the Oise valley and Camille Pissarro settled in the town.
With around 30,000 inhabitants, present day Pontoise is about fifty per cent larger than Sevenoaks but is itself in danger of being dwarfed by the adjacent new town of Cergy, built since the advent of our twinning and its partner in the modern conurbation of Cergy-Pontoise. However, Pontoisiens are fiercely independent and visitors will be impressed by their sense of history and culture.
Above the town's ramparts, on the site of the old castle, stands the Pissarro Museum, one of several art galleries to be found. Beneath it, in fact beneath much of the old town, one can explore numerous vaulted tunnels, dating from the 13th century. And, of course, the town is dominated by the magnificent Saint-Maclou cathedral.
A packed calendar of events starts the year with the International Piano Campus and ends with one of the world's oldest fairs, the Foire Saint-Martin dating from 1170. Salted herring, for which Pontoise was once famous is still served on the opening day. In between comes the Spring medieval spectacular "Bouquet Provincial", the Autumn Baroque Music Festival and much more.
In fact, far too much to list here, and more than enough to support the increasing cultural links and growing bond of friendship between our two towns. The Friends of Pontoise is always happy to welcome new members and, be reassured, fluency in French is by no means essential.
Medieval tunnels beneath Pontoise.
If you would like further information on our twinning activities, or on Pontoise itself, please take a look at these websites:-
Friends of Rheinbach
In March, 1995, the Sevenoaks Town Council
was approached about forming a friendship link. Rheinbach
was already twinned with Villeneuve lez Avignon in France, and had a friendship link with Deinze in Belgium. That September, the Sevenoaks Town Council hosted an open meeting, and a Steering Group for 'Friends of Rheinbach' was formed: we were in business. Since then there have
been many visits, the Friends of Rheinbach and Die Freunde von Sevenoaks making
the trip to each other’s town in alternate years. Boat trips on the Rhine,
visits to castles, wineries, a Classic car weekend, concerts, even a cricket
match one year, have all featured as entertainment for us British. Our German
friends have enjoyed amongst other things Chatham Dockyards, Rochester, a trip
by paddleboat on the Medway, Arundel castle, and most recently the RHS gardens
So, what and where is Rheinbach
is a small, pleasant modern town with some earlier features - the attractive inner town has many striking half-timbered buildings and the remains of a castle. It is a commuter town for Bonn and Cologne. It lies in agricultural environs but includes, on its outskirts, significant and growing industrial and commercial areas. Its population, taking into account the surrounding villages, is about 30,000.
has three grammar schools, a music school, a College of Technology and a superb sport and swimming centre. It is well-known for its glass industry, including a major training facility - glassmakers from Bohemia relocated in Rheinbach
is within easy reach of Sevenoaks
whatever your mode of transport. Budget airlines from Gatwick offer flights to Cologne / Bonn Airport (Less than one hour from Rheinbach); fast rail links using Eurostar, with changes in Brussels and Cologne or under eight hours if driving using the Tunnel link.
The connection with Rheinbach is open-ended. You don't need to speak German - quite a proportion of our membership has very little, or none at all. But if you want linguistic, educational, cultural, social, sporting, commercial, craft, - whatever! - links with Germany, come and join us, and let's see what we can do together!
For further information contact the Secretary, Margaret Willis via email firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.friends-of-rheinbach.org.uk/Die Freunde von
Sevenoaks website address: http://www.freunde-von-sevenoaks.de