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So much more than a library!

Known as the ‘friendly library,’ La Souterraine English Lib­rary and Information Centre, in Creuse, is keen to make new friends as many member families have returned to the UK.

Founded in 2009, it is more than a library and members and volunteers take part in numerous activities.

Co-president John Essom said: “We are also a social community and as many of us have been here for several years we have between us a wealth of local knowledge and an understanding of how the French system works.

“Our cafe has free Wifi and there are activity groups including French classes, walking, singing, camera club and an art group which only started in January last year but which has produced some stunning work. We also put on events, including quizzes and get togethers such as a paper plane race and, soon, we will take on the local pétanque team.”

Fellow co-president, Steve Chicken feels the library plays an important social role and members say “the information on offer helps deal with the day to day practicalities of living in France.”

Based in a 15th century building that belongs to the mairie, the library has around 3,000 fiction and non-fiction books, and DVDs.

Membership is €24 a year per household and group activities charge a small fee per session.

Mr Essom said one aim was to foster integration in the community and some French classes were oversubscribed.

“There is quite a buzz in our café and we have French locals dropping in from time to time.”

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