Deep in the heart of rural France, in the Seven Valleys area of Pas-de-Calais in the north is a sizeable community of English speaking expats. This part of France is very popular with British, Dutch and Belgian holidaymakers, second-homers and émigrés. Close to the borders with those countries and just an hour from Calais port it is a hidden gem and a secret part of France that is truly lovely. There is lush green countryside, wonderful architecture – from impressive Flemish influenced buildings to country cottages with shutters and gorgeous old doors draped in roses and pleached pear trees climbing the walls. It is a place where heritage and tradition are cherished, a place of culture and good cuisine, inhabited by the friendliest people in France. There are lovely properties for sale here, some at bargain prices and with the commute to London being just a few hours its a popular place for Brits to buy property. Just outside the charming and picturesque market town of Hesdin some British residents have set up the Seven Valleys Social Group.
TGLF: When and how did the group get started?
7VSG: Our group began in March 2010 when it was decided between some friends to hold a quiz night. It was such a success and well supported that we had a meeting between three or four of us afterwards and thought it might be an idea to hold other events.
We have a list of supporters, who though they are not members, sign up to receive details of events as they wish and attend at their convenience. Membership doesn’t necessarily increase during the summer months as most of our members are French resident. But we do find members have more visitors in the Summer and they can and do bring their family and friends to events which does swell the numbers.
TGLF: What sort of things do you do?
Well where do I start? We have a bar which is stocked with wines and UK & Continental beers and soft drinks. We have a Superleague pool table, dart board, football game and board games for all members to take advantage of. We meet every 3rd Wednesday of each month (now first Tuesday) and our evenings are usually themed.
TGLF: Do you entertain your French neighbours at the Club House?
Most of our members are British but we have quite a few French members and other nationalities too. And we always have a good French turnout for the Hallowe’en and other non-monthly events. We have French visitors for club nights and we have created a really good Anglo/French rapport within the area.
Note: Now called The First Tuesday Club.