In May, the Braunton Twinning Association gave me and my friend Emilee the incredible opportunity to accompany them on their trip to France to visit Plouescat, the town Braunton is twinned with.

The twinning group go on this trip every two years and take two students from Braunton Academy, who are interested in the French language, along with them. This year Emilee and I were lucky enough to be selected, and we ended up having an amazing time.

Travelling abroad with neither our parents nor any teachers was a big step out of both mine and Emilee’s comfort zones, but we ended up loving every second of it! The Braunton twinning group became one big family to us throughout the trip, and were so hospitable and lovely.

During the trip, we stayed with a host family who were equally welcoming and kind, and we were able to experience the French lifestyle and culture first-hand, while getting the unique opportunity to practice our language skills in conversation with actual French people.

We spent every day in a big group with the twinners, and were organised with exciting day trips and activities to give us an insight into Brittany’s history. A highlight for me was visiting the Valley of the Saints, where 50 statues of Breton saints created by local sculptors were on display in a beautiful valley.

But by far the best part of the trip was meeting and getting to know the Plouescat twinning group. Despite the slight language barrier, we were able to make incredible friends that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Emilee and I are counting the days until they come to Braunton to visit next year!

On the last night of our trip, we all went to a restaurant to have dinner, and Emilee and I were asked to make a speech to say thank you for our wonderful trip. But not just any speech - we had to write and perform it in French!

We were quite nervous to have to speak French in front of an audience, but luckily one of our new French friends was able to help us with our pronunciation and we did it! It was a huge confidence boost for me and Emilee, especially with our GCSE French exams coming up in the spring.

Overall, our trip was unforgettable, and we owe it all to the hospitality of the Plouescat twinning group, and the kindness of the Braunton twinning group in letting us accompany them and looking after us so well!

It is a real honour to be linked with such a lovely group of people from a culture so different to our own, and we would wholeheartedly recommend anyone in the Braunton area to get involved with the twinning association.

By Holly Milton-Jefferies