Stonehaven and District Community Council announced that they are in the final stages of “twinning” with the French town of Achères. The suburb of Paris is described as “vibrant and modern, but with a distinctive historical feel”. We take a look at the town that will become Stonehaven’s twin and what’s happening next.
Stonehaven and District Community Council (SDCC) started the process of “twinning” over 18 months ago, since then delegates from Achères have visited Stonehaven. SDCC chairperson, Phil Mills-Bishop mentioned on Facebook that delegations from Achères liked Stonehaven for a variety of reasons including the “bay, clifftops both North and South; Dunnottar Castle and its history, Braveheart, Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie/ Jacobites”
The commune of Achères is located to the North West of Paris and is sandwiched between the river Seine and the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. A commune is roughly equivalent to a township within an urbanised area, as such the commune of Achères extends slightly outwith the boundaries of the town. As the crow flies, it lies just short of 24 kilometres from the city centre of Paris. Achères lies on the south bank of the Seine on one of the iconic rivers many loops.
The commune covers a total geographical area of 9.44 km², although the area of the town itself is considerably smaller at around 3.2 km².
The population has climbed steadily since records began, with the current number of inhabitants (at the last count) sitting at just over 21,000.
Local Politics in Achères
The different levels of the French political administration system are numerous and complex, however, much like the SDCC the commune of Achères forms the most local level of administration.
Marc Honoré is the elected mayor; he has been in the post for 4 years and will be in his post for another 2 before he can seek re-election. Achères also has a municipal council, which elects the mayor.
The local coat of arms features a muzzled bear head emblazoned: “d’argent à la tête d’ours au naturel emmuselé de gueules et annelé d’or” .
The town logo depicts the commune’s position between the Seine and the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
History and economy
Much like Stonehaven, Achères has a rich history. With evidence of the towns founding existing in as early as 1212, when the settlers were permitted by the king to collect dead wood from the neighbouring forest and let their animals graze.
In 1699 Louis XIV constructed a military camp on the outskirts of what is now the town, the location was selected due to the proximity to the kings home of Versailles at the time.
The local economy relies heavily on the automotive industry, with a large number of residents working in the neighbouring Poissy PSA plant. Here parts of Peugeot and Citroen cars are manufactured.
On the border between Achères and the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye lies Europes largest sewage treatment plant, Seine Aval. The plant treats up to 75% of Paris’ wastewater and serves over 6.5 residents of the capital.
On the 18th- 21st of May a group of delegates from Stonehaven will travel to France to meet with Achères’ mayor Marc Honoré. During this visit, they will sign the twinning and concordat which will officially “twin” the two towns.
To promote this opportunity on Friday the 20th of April the Stonehaven and District Community Council hosted a French breakfast briefing at Molly’s Cafe Bar at the seafront.
The event was attended by local MSPs Mairi Gougeon and Liam Kerr, as well as by local Councillor Sarah Dickinson.
Currently, the community council is looking for additional delegates to join them on a trip to Achères, anyone is welcome provided they can prove a “French connection” to their desire to visit.
The mayor of Achères currently plans to visit Stonehaven on the weekend of the 7th and 8th of July.
In February the twinning was recognised for by Liam Kerr MSP, who submitted a parliamentary motion commending SDCC for their work.
In his motion, Mr Kerr praises the “tremendous support” from local business, clubs and schools
He also notes that funding will now be sought to purchase six commemorative plaques which will be displayed at various locations around Stonehaven.
If you would like more information on Stonehaven’s soon to be twin you can visit: http://www.mairie-acheres78.fr/
For more information on what Stonehaven and District Community Council does you can visit their Facebook page
If you have more information on the twinning, then feel free to contact us