Britons needed to build friendships in Vendée group

Enjoy meals together, trips and other events, such as last year’s Queen’s birthday meal with Coronation chicken and a film on her life

A Vendée Franco-British association is looking for new non-French members to join, as British numbers have fallen with some returning to the UK.

Called Le Pont à Sion and based at St Hilaire de Riez, it has more than 100 members and only around 20 are now non-French. President Jo Collin­son said: “In our association we feel blessed to be with a really super set of French people and we would hate to see an end to it because we don’t have enough English- speaking members.

“In the last nine months we have seen several people leaving, often because they have been in their 80s and gone back to the UK for health reasons and perhaps, some of them, because of Brexit.

“Numbers rise in summer as we have quite a lot of second home owners who join us when they are in France, but we would really like to see new people join who are here through the winter.”

The association was founded 10 years ago and has become very popular with twice a week meetings with informal language games, films in either French or English and a glass of wine on Thursday evenings and on Friday mornings there is coffee, chat and a popular bilingual quiz.

Mrs Collinson said: “The most important aspect is that we have become a group of friends and it is very convivial.

“People who come along always say that the ambience is fantastic. After the Brexit announcement French and British members met up and we had a sob and a moan together. We get on really well.”

She says it is open to all ages and all levels of language: “We have some French members who speak hardly any English and others who speak fluently and it is the same for our British members with their ability to speak French. Somehow, we all manage to communicate.

“It is a great way to learn each other’s language as it is all through games, with no formal teaching. The quiz has become extremely popular. We put one on every week, with members often contributing questions.”

Membership is €15 a year and the group meet in the new mairie premises. Call Mrs Collinson on 02 51 55 84 56 or check the site