As one drives around the UK one regularly sees signs of the type “Pangbourne, twinned with Houdan” or “Reading, twinned with Düsseldorf”. What does this actually mean? The twinning movement started in Europe very soon after 1945. Its fundamental aim is to promote personal friendship at a local and thoroughly personal level, and through it international understanding and the defusing of traditional tensions. Most people are familiar with overseas travel these days, but few get to make lasting friendships and stay with hosts in their own homes, or to entertain overseas visitors in their turn. It is an excellent way of making new friends.

Pangbourne decided over 30 years ago that it wanted to be twinned with Houdan, a charming and historic French market town, an hour by car from Paris and on the traditional road from there to Brittany. It is to this small town that twinning visits are made in alternate years, usually at the beginning of May, with reciprocal visits from the Houdannais (as they are known to their compatriots) in-between, also at the beginning of May. These visits are packed with activities both social and cultural, but all on an agreeably informal and fun basis. Pangbourne Twinning Association is open to all, including members of surrounding villages. Young people and families are especially welcome, and no knowledge of French is required, as the French are always keen to try out their English. They are as keen to learn about us as we are about them, and they are famously hospitable..