Hillingdon is twinned with two towns: Schleswig and Mantes-la-Jolie.
Before the formation of the London Borough of Hillingdon, the former Hayes & Harlington Urban District Council established links with Schleswig and Mantes-la-Jolie in 1958.
The idea originated after the Second World War in Europe as a way to bring people from different European countries closer together. This is achieved by promoting links, better understanding of various cultures and challenging stereotypical images by developing cross-border projects for mutual benefit.
Twinning projects typically involve bringing people together with common interests such as sport, art, education and music. Other activities also encourage people to visit places they would otherwise not have seen or had the chance to experience. Other areas include promoting tourism as well as looking at projects to share ideas on wide range issues including democracy, the environment, economic development and cultural diversity.
Many projects involve clubs, schools and other agencies as well as individuals on work experience and or learning a foreign language. Involvement from local people is key to the success of any twinning arrangement and the Council and local town twinning association are always keen to identify local groups and individuals that would like to get involved or establish a new link with a similar group in one or all of the twin towns.
A former Viking settlement, Schleswig is just 30 miles from Denmark and lies on the Schlei, a 40 km long inlet of the Baltic.
It's skyline is dominated by the Dom St Petri, a 12th Century Lutheran Cathedral which contains a magnificently carved altar screen. In the shadows of the Dom is HoIm, a quaint fishing village with immaculate matchbox-sized houses, cobbled streets and decorative front doors.
On the cultural side it has several museums, one of which is housed in Schloss Gottorf, a former palace of the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein. Various festivals are held throughout the year including the 2-day Viking-Fest.
Shopping is a pleasant experience in the pedestrianised tree-lined streets, as is enjoying the pavement cafes. Afternoon 'Kaffee trinken' (coffee and cake) is not to be missed.
Follow the Seine North West of Paris and you will find Mantes-la-Jolie. Nearer still is Versailles.
Its history dates back to pre-Norman times and one of Frances famous sons, William the Conqueror, came from this area.
The numerous pavement cafes were once frequented by Impressionist painters who often settled their bar bills with a painting. You too can enjoy this typical part of French life, especially around the bustling market in the shadow of the Tour St. Maclou.
France is renowned for its food and the area has many fine restaurants to delight the gourmet - you might need to make use of Mantes excellent sporting facilities!
The Collegial church Notre Dame is not to be missed: an impressive example of French Gothic Architecture built in 1170, a few years after the more famous Notre Dame in Paris.
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