Ampthill Twinning with Nissan Lez Enserune

Nissan lez Enserune dancers at Ampthill Festival 2013 

Ampthill Twinning Association

Ampthill is now officially twinned with Nissan-lez-Enserune in France. The official signing was undertaken by our Mayor, Margaret Wilson on June 25th this year.

Nissan-lez-Enserune is situated in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, 10 miles from the Mediterranean and approximately eight miles south of Béziers - Béziers-Vias airport has regular flights directly from London Luton by Ryanair.

The twinning will open up many opportunities of experiencing life in France and allow French visitors to live like the English! Already a pétanque team has visited and played a match against English opposition. The tennis club is looking to host a visit from their counterparts in France and the camera club have expressed a wish to visit Nissan. Ampthill Rugby Club under 13s is arranging a tour next April 2011.

The major benefit will be to our children. Links have been initiated between schools in Nissan and our schools in Ampthill. Video links will, hopefully, be set up in the near future with possible mutual exchanges between students. Ask your language teacher for more details.

The Twinning Committee also wishes to arrange visits for adults not connected to a club, society or school. To this effect, we have established membership of the Twining Association to raise funds to ensure we can host visitors in the true English style. Annual membership costs will be £10 per family, £5 per individual, £10 per business (£25 if a link is wished to be placed on the website supporting the initiative). Membership will offer many benefits including three newsletters per annum, advance notice of functions, assistance in exchange visits and special offers.

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Ampthill Twins with Nissan-Lez-Enserune

In the historic setting of the Old Court House on the 25th June 2010 Ampthill Town Council signed the Twinning Charter with Nissan-lez-Enserune, a village in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France.

The twinning will be a community-led project, which will enable the residents of both towns to experience each other's cultures. The most striking thing about the exchange proposal so far is the

enthusiasm of the council in Nissan. A large number of people including councillors, families, friends and members of the twinning committee have been involved and are obviously very keen for this exchange to happen. Now that the twinning charter has been signed between the two towns they can have access to generous European funding. Whether this can happen on the British side is not known and clearly needs to be explored. 

Ampthill Town Twinning Ceremony between Ampthill (UK) and Nissan-Lez-Enserune

On Friday 25th June 2010 a ceremony took place at the Old Courthouse, Church Street, Ampthill to officially mark the twinning of Ampthill with the French town of Nissan-Lez-Enserune.

Ampthill Town Twinning Ceremony - Part One - Ampthill Mayor's Speech

The footage contained in this video includes Mayor Margaret Wilson's speech of welcome to our French visitors

Ampthill Town Twinning Ceremony - Part Two - Nissan-Lez-Enserune Mayor's Speech

The footage contained in this video includes a speech by Nissan-Lez-Enserune Mayor Pierre Cros.

Ampthill Town Twinning Ceremony - Part Three - The Signing of the Twinning Agreement

The footage contained in this video includes the signing of the twinning agreement by Ampthill Town Mayor Margaret Wilson and Nissan-Lez-Enserune Mayor Pierre Cros.

Ampthill Town Twinning 2010 Ceremony - Part Four - Twinning Committee Chairman's Speech

The footage contained in this video includes the speech by the Dave Ratcliffe, the Chairman of Ampthill Town Twinning Committee.

Your help is needed in Twinning with Nissan Lez Enserune

In a community lead project Ampthill is looking to join a growing band of towns that has a twin with a town/village in another country to enable the residents (in particular the young) of Ampthill to experience the culture of another country.

We are looking to our near neighbour France and initial links have already been made with Nissan Lez Enserune, a village in the Languedoc Rousillon area of France. Nissan is approximately 25 minutes from Beziers airport that has a direct flight from Luton with Ryanair.

Anybody wishing to volunteer to be involved in the TownTwinning Committee please contact Dave Ratcliffe at


About Nissan-lez-Enserune and the efforts made so far in twinning

Nissan-lez-Ensérune is an attractive little town (population 3,500) in the Hérault department between Béziers and Narbonne and about half-an-hour's drive from the Mediterranean. The area is served by several airports offering cheap flights from Luton and East Midlands. The proposal for an exchange has come from Dave and Karon Ratcliffe, who live in Ampthill but have a house in Nissan. There have now been preliminary visits in each direction, as well as several less formal occasions. This paper outlines the benefits which could accrue to Ampthill and makes suggestions about what needs to be done to secure these benefits. 

The most striking thing about the exchange proposal so far is the enthusiasm of the council in Nissan. A large number of councillors (and their families) have been involved and are obviously very keen for this exchange to happen. At first they appeared to be hanging back from making any very precise arrangements for individual exchange activities. The reason for this has become clear. Once an exchange agreement is signed between the two towns they will have access to generous European funding. Whether this can happen on the British side is not known and clearly needs to be explored. 

Sport - There is a well-equipped rugby ground with a stand and a new club house is to be built in the near future. Although the team (Nissan-Colombiers) play at a lower level than Ampthill, there were more spectators than might be seen at a match in Ampthill. An invitation has already been issued for an Ampthill team to go and play in Nissan this year. The mini and youth of both clubs are very interested in the opportunities a Twinning would give. The ground is next to the 'boules' area and there has been some interest, both in Nissan and in Ampthill, in an exchange. This would be a teaching exchange since French and English bowls are quite different games. The Nissan tennis club is also very interested in an exchange.

Schools -  There are many opportunities. For children aged 9-10 it would be easy to arrange a weekend exchange based on mini-rugby, which is well-developed and strong in both towns, and on a taster foreign language experience. This idea could be put to Alameda Middle School and to the primary school in Nissan. The school in Nissan is one of a grouping of village schools known as a 'communauté des communes' and Nissan councillors are well represented on the governing body. Redborne Upper School is mainly interested in a Year 9 exchange for children who have just transferred from middle schools. In France all children from Nissan (aged 10 to 15) go to the Collège Paul Bert in Capestang, a slightly larger town a few miles away and attractively situated astride the Canal du Midi. The school building is imposing and the town also has a huge 'Collégiale' church which looks like an unfinished cathedral. Unfortunately it was not possible to meet any teachers of English or any representative of the school. The councillor who represents Nissan at the school could not be present during the visit. The most obvious opportunities for schools would be for sixth formers taking business studies, history, geography and tourism, as well as French. This is enlarged upon in the next paragraph. All children from Nissan go to the lycée in Béziers, half-an-hour away.

Tourism and Trade - Languedoc- Roussillon is a fascinating area with all sorts of important subjects for study. Nissan lies in the shadow of a steep-sided hill (Ensérune) where there was a Gallo-Roman settlement (the Oppidum) from the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD. It has mostly been excavated and there is a well-appointed museum (with the exhibits mostly labelled only in French). From the hill there is a magnificent view of two major features of the region. The lake of Montady with its star shape is an astonishing example of a huge drainage system created in the 13th century and which still functions today. It is in fact no longer a lake. The second feature is the famous Canal du Midi, created in the 17th century under Louis XIV and his minister Colbert by Pierre Paul Riquet, probably the greatest engineer who ever lived in France or in any other country. His work still dominates the region from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, although it is now at the service of tourism not trade. Worth a visit on its own is the Tunnel du Malpas, the first canal tunnel ever built and now having underneath it two more tunnels, one for the railway and one for drainage. The well-appointed museum with its striking model of the triple tunnels provided visitors with elaborate brochures in English. Languedoc-Roussillon is probably the largest vineyard in the world and provides an interesting example of a region that has survived monoculture and over-production of low quality wine to become an area now challenging Bordeaux and Burgundy. Not far away to the south are the salt marshes and the important mussel and oyster farms. Visits are possible and they emphasise the difficulties of production and the considerable competition they have to combat. The whole region invites a fascinating study of how a country deals with extreme heat and potential water shortage in the summer. Many different kinds of study visit are possible and would not necessarily depend on an exchange, although it is certain that Nissan would do everything possible to facilitate such visits. 

Civic Dignitaries from Nissan Lez Enserune Visit Ampthill - 6th to 8th November 2009

Civic Reception at the Offices of Ampthill Town Council on Friday 6th November 2009

Images of Nissan Lez Enserune

Nissan Lez Ensérune - Town View

The Community of Nissan Lez Enserune

Nissan Lez Ensérune - Town Hall

Nissan Lez Enserune Town Hall

Nissan Lez Ensérune - Market

Nissan Lez Enserune Market Day

Nissan Lez Ensérune - Cafe Culture

Cafe culture in Nissan Lez Enserune