Inverness will celebrate being twinned with the French holiday resort of La Baule for 30 years this weekend as a French delegation arrives in the Highland capital to attend a series of special events to mark the occasion.
The celebratory visit had been due to take place earlier this year in May but was postponed due to the effects of the volcanic ash cloud that caused disruption to air travel.
Today (Friday 9 September) Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Inverness City Committee, Kathleen Matheson, Chair of the Inverness Town Twinning Committee and members of the La Baule Twinning Group planted a tree at Cauldeen Primary School, Crown Primary School and Bellfield Park in the morning to mark each of the three decades of successful visits organised by the Inverness Town Twinning Committee and their French counterparts.
The French visitors were presented with paintings produced by pupils at both schools especially for the occasion. This was followed by a visit to the Scottish natural Heritage SNH offices in the afternoon and a civic reception to mark the 30th Anniversary in the Town House, Inverness, on Friday evening.
On Saturday 10 September Mayor Yves Métaireau and his party will visit Fort George and Nairn and on Sunday 11 September the visitors will take part in the Kirking of the Council event. They will join the historic procession from Inverness Town House at 10am which will feature dancers in traditional French costume to the Old High Church for a Service of Friendship. The service will be led the Reverend Peter Nimmo starting at 10.30am and is open to all. During their visit to the Highlands, the party from La Baule will also visit Ord Distillery at Muir of Ord and Eilean Donan Castle.
Provost Gray said “Since 1981, the links between Inverness and La Baule have strengthened with every passing year thanks to the dedication of the Inverness Town Twinning Committee and the many host families over the years on both sides of the channel who have made this twinning arrangement such a success in so many ways.”
Kathleen Matheson, Chair of the Inverness Town Twinning Committee added: “I am delighted that at last we are able to welcome our friends to Inverness during the thirtieth anniversary of the Town Twinning between La Baule and Inverness. This is a twinning that began, grew and flourished through friendship between two very different communities. Although we are different in geography we have strong similarities such as the importance of tourism to our local economies and it is on these foundations that we build and strengthen our friendships.”
La Baule is situated on the Cote d'Amour in the south of Brittany in France and has large stretches of beautiful beaches. Extensive areas of natural salt flats have given rise to an important salt gathering industry producing mineral rich natural sea salt.
Originally a farming area, it is predominately dependent on tourism. The population rises from some 18,000 people in winter to 180,000 in summer. Many holiday houses are owned by Parisians for weekend and holiday accommodation.
The twinning of Inverness with La Baule evolved from contacts between councillors from the two towns. In 1981 the twinning charter was signed.