Yesterday I went to the ‘Forum des Associations’ for the town of Saint Cloud. It took place in the Hippodrome de Saint Cloud, which was also an excuse to take photos from an otherwise inaccessible viewpoint. The morning was cloudy, but just as I was walking over the sun made a brief and very convenient appearance. (You can see one of the photos I took on the new background.)
The Forum des Associations is held by lots of French towns at the rentrée, the start of the school year. The principle is pretty much the same as Freshers’ Week, with rows of stands in a gym advertising lots of different societies, except that most of the people sitting behind them are grey-haired. This makes it somewhat difficult to identify whether, for example, the promising sounding Cercle Féminin d’Amitié Européenne covers all ages, or if someone under the age of fifty might stick out like a sore thumb.
There were no fewer than 65 stands in the hall, from all the local sports clubs to the theatre, museum and library, to name just a few. A lot were geared towards families, which prompted many ‘Vous avez des enfants?’ the moment I approached. When I replied in the negative to the lady at the Médiathèque stand, she said, ‘Pas encore?’ and, undeterred, popped a leaflet on children’s books into my bag anyway.
One of the most interesting stalls was that run by the AVF – the Accueil des Villes Françaises, a nationwide organisation helping people to make friends when they move to a new town. I was invited to sign up for an invitation to a cocktail with the mayor of Saint Cloud in October, amongst many other events that they are running. In the end, I gave up on the tennis stand, which had a permanent queue of people waiting to sign up, but took a leaflet for the climbing club. The only downside of all of these societies is that you have to sign up (and pay for) the entire year, which is no mean financial and time commitment if you decide to try something new. Adrenaline-Escalade, at 250€ for the year, is looking like a more reasonable venture compared to 600€+ for the tennis…
Finally, this being France, there was also a poster up advertising ‘les Aperitifs de Quartier’, one for each of the 5 zones in Saint Cloud. I’m not entirely sure if this is just an annual thing, or who is providing the aperitif, but I’m tempted to go along!