After a cruelly early start, departing Didcot at 04h00, we arrived in Lyon airport to torrential rain.
Not a good start to our latest twinning visit to Meylan. However, we were soon on the bus and making our way to Grenoble where we were collected by minibus and taken for some lunch. Eating was to prove and enduring element to this visit. After lunch we dispersed to our hosts for a well-earned rest before the official welcome drink at the Mairie. By the time we arrived, the sun had come out and we could see the spectacular mountain backdrop to the town hall.
It was during the welcome address that the Mayor of Meylan, Mme Marie-Christine Tardy, announced that she had recently decided to stand down as mayor.
Marie-Christine’s links with twinning are longstanding and we were sorry to learn that this would be the last visit that she would preside over as mayor but were delighted to learn that her replacement is to be Damien Guiguet, someone we have already met several times.
The next morning at 08h00 we were all in the bus ready for the drive to the town of Vienne, in the Rhone Valley. Our first stop was the Gallo-Roman museum where we used audioguides to take us around the informative displays both inside and out.
After our visit to the museum we were all ready for lunch which was taken, appropriately enough, at the Table de César restaurant in the museum, overlooking the Rhone.Here we learnt the important difference between a rivière and a fleuve, with the latter being a river that reaches the sea. After and excellent meal we made our way across the bridge ready for our guided walk through the history of this fascinating town. Divided into two groups (one with a French-speaking guide, one with an English-speaking guide) we made our way to the cool serenity of the cloister of the church of St André le Bas where we met the Green Man grotesque amongst others.Making our way through the narrow streets we emerged into the square surrounding the Temple of Augustus and Livia. Our guide indicated where essential repairs had been carried out over the years. Grazing quietly just next to this temple was a cow, courtesy of Yoplait. Moving through the ages we passed in front of the Renaissance styleTown Hall, briefly entered one of the private courtyards to see the ancient spiral staircase, and then climbed up to the Roman amphitheatre.It was re-discovered in 1922, and is one of the biggest of the Gallo-Roman period. Around 11 000 people could sit down on the 46 tiers of seats. Currently, it is the setting for the Jazz Festival. With that we descended to the river and boarded our bus back to Meylan.
Saturday was a day to be spent with hosts, in a variety of activities. Some went walking in the mountains, others visited local towns such as Aix les Bains, Chambéry or Annecy, but everyone had the chance to learn more about this magnificent region of France.
In the evening we were reunited to listen the the music of one of the bands from the Espace Musical de Gaston Baudry before going on to dinner at the Chateau de la Veyrie in Bernin. Another superb meal followed, with speeches and exchanges of gifts.
Finally on Sunday we had a quiet morning before meeting for lunch in the Jardins de Meylan. By the time we had finished eating (again) it was time to get on the bus back to the airport for our flight home.