Amateur artists and craftworkers are looking forward to the EuroMayenne Craft Fair at Mayenne Exhibition Hall that last year drew 90 exhibitors and more than 3,000 visitors.
The theme this year is Spain with music and flamenco dancing which is a departure for an association founded in 1991 by a French woman who wanted to welcome the numerous Britons arriving in the department to help them integrate.
Today it has more than 300 members; two-thirds are English-speakers and the others are French with some Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Americans and Canadians.
President Nicole Devel-Laigle said: “One of our rules is the president should be French because we want to keep alive the principle this is a group where we in France wish to continue to provide a network of help, guidance, activities and friendship to those coming to live here. We also want to make sure it does not become a solely expat association.”
“A priority is to help people master the language. We have a salaried teacher who gives lessons at three different levels at Laval and Mayenne.
“We also run conversation workshops where people sit at tables of four and they speak for one hour in French and one hour in English, which is of benefit to all members.
“We have about 30 signed up for the French lessons and would really like people to know about the classes because it would be good to see more people benefiting from them.”
The association also has interest groups including photography, rambling, craft work, gardening, cookery, reading and the card game Belote. Some members also help in English speaking activities in local schools.
The craft fair came from a British member’s idea and Mrs Devel-Laigle said: “Little by little it has grown into a big event. There are all sorts of handmade objects on display and for sale by both amateurs and professionals. We like to think it is the first Christmas market in the department”.
Annual membership is €20 and anyone wishing to sign up for the fair can email Clotilde Sedouga at email@example.com