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In September 2016, 12 of us - 6 Members (Peter Rostron, Fred Belcher, Eric Locke, David Bond, Geoff Loosemore & Peter Barns-Graham) and their Wives - visited the Probus Club of Cambrai & Douai in northern France. The visit was a follow-up of the 'making contact' visit by Peter Rostron, Ray Harris, Martyn Guy & Andrew Langton on 6th May 2015. The purpose of this visit was to take that contact a stage further, enabling more members of the clubs to meet each other, and confirming our willingness to develop friendly (informal) relations with them. The visit also enabled some of our members to get to know their area a little. The visit went very well. The Frenchmen and their partners gave us a very friendly welcome. We are hopeful that some of them will make it across to Herefordshire in 2017-18.

Probus Cambrai-Douai has about 35 members, roughly evenly from each of Cambrai & Douai (see map below), and has a similar outlook as our Club although it is not quite as active as our Club. It does not have a web site at the moment.

At the Monthly Meeting on 27.09.16, and also the President's Evening on 22.10.16 (E16o), Geoff kindly showed us the 'home video' he had produced on the trip. This was viewed with great pleasure and both reminded those who went on the trip about the trip and enabled those who did not go on the trip to see what we got up to.

Except as reported otherwise, photos by Peter & Jackie BG.

Day Notes Images : maximum size : 600 pixels in either direction
Tuesday, 13th September We travelled independently (in 4 cars) to Le Mouton Blanc (33 Rue Alsace Lorraine, Cambrai, web site which is where we stayed for the 3 nights. It took about 1½ hours to get there from Calais. We had agreed to meet in the Bar at 6pm - and duly did so. We were joined for the evening meal by Regis Boulant and his wife Christine. Regis, who is the Probus Cambrai-Douai Member responsible for PR/Outreach, gave us a warm welcome to the area.

Having mentioned the warm welcome we received, it is worth mentioning that our visit took place during a heat wave with temperatures well into the 30s°C. That made for glorious weather during our outings but meant also that we needed fans in our rooms at night.


Thanks to Geoff for the following, the picture of the Hotel being a 'still' from his video.

Wednesday, 14th September Regis Boulant had kindly organised a walking tour of Cambrai for us so, after breakfast, he joined us along with 2 fellow members of his club - Loic Brutin (Past President) and Jean-Pierre Brisanboise (Next President) - along with the guide, Christina. This tour lasted about 2 hours and proved most interesting, providing us with insights into the history of the town along with sight of sites within the town (in particular inside the Town Hall) that we would probably not have obtained had we been on our own.
    see here for some photos taken during the tour

After a short break to freshen up, we drove in convoy to Salons St. Jacques (web site here), a restaurant in Neuville-Saint-Rémy (about a third of the way from Cambrai to Douai), where we met many of the members of Probus Club Cambrai-Douai with their spouses/partners. Just under 50 of us sat for an excellent buffet lunch. The wine was frustratingly-good for those of us who had to drive afterwards! For some of us more than others, the language barrier was a bit of an issue but both sides made good effort to overcome that problem and the good will that was shown boded well for the future of the relationship between the 2 clubs. We invited them to visit us in Herefordshire and are hopeful that, at the least, some will come over in due course.
    Picture in the middle below: Peter Rostron making an excellent speech in French.
    Thanks to Geoff for the other photos which were taken from the video he prepared on the trip.
After lunch, we returned to our hotel. Some of us retired to our beds, retreating from the heat of the afternoon, but some were more adventurous and toured the town some more. We met up in the bar for a tipple before going into Cambrai for dinner. We split into 2 groups for this, all enjoying good meals in true 'outside in the square' style.
Thursday, 15th September This was a 'free day' but all agreed to go together on 2 visits - firstly to an exhibition on the First World War at Peronne, secondly to Vaucelles Abbey.

The exhibition was 'Historial de la Grande Guerre' at a museum within the Château de Péronne (web site here). It was very impressive, providing a very good historical account of WW1 in general, and of the battle of the Somme in particular, and providing a place of information & remembrance without slipping into glorification of the fighting.
    see here for some photos taken during the visit

After a pleasant lunch in Péronne, we went to the nearby Abbaye de Vaucelles (web site here). Much of the Abbey has disappeared but the Chapter House, "the biggest Cistercian Chapter House in Europe", was still largely intact as were enough other parts to make the visit worthwhile. The extensive gardens were also very interesting.
    see here for some photos taken during the visit

We had a short break after returning to the hotel and then kept up our 'routine' of meeting in the bar for a tipple before going into Cambrai for dinner. We had a most enjoyable meal together, this time inside rather than outside a restaurant. The noise level indicated that we had a great time!
Friday, 16th September After meeting for breakfast, and settling our bills, we went our separate ways. Most went back to the UK but one couple stayed in France for another night or two. The weather broke on the way back, producing a deluge of rain which we were pleased happened just after our most enjoyable visit to Cambrai rather than during it. However, that deluge also hit England (part of the M4 was closed for a time because of flooding) so some people had a bad journey back, which was a shame.