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Boston friendships around the world

The name of Boston echoes around the world, most famously in America where the Pilgrim Fathers settled. But it also resounds much closer to home - just across the Channel in fact.

Since 1958 Boston has been twinned with Laval in France - one of the longest-established twinning arrangements in the country, and the friendships continue to prosper.

The twinning agreement was signed in June, 1958, by the then Mayor, Councillor Cyril Valentine and the Mayor of Laval, Monsieur Le Basser.

The original aims were to maintain and develop the friendship, associations and alliances between the two towns, work together for the progress and development and wellbeing of the citizens, strengthen exchanges in all possible areas and encourage public assistance in respect of the continued development of the twinning. This is still the case and this commitment was renewed by the respective Mayors of both Boston and Laval during the 40th anniversary celebrations in 1998.

Laval is situated in the "departement" of the Mayenne, situated between Anjou, Brittany and Normandy, and has the river Mayenne running through it. Laval is its capital town which dates back to the 6th century as a trading post and has a rich cultural heritage and a well-preserved historic district, within which there is situated an 11th century chateau in which many of the functions of Laval with Boston are held.

Churches date from the 12th and 16th century of which the Basilica Notre Dame d'Avesnieres is undoubtedly the most beautiful with its magnificent steeple.

There are also several museums and the castle now houses a museum of art, created in honour of Douanier Rousseau, a famous painter and a child of the county.

The Old Bridge and the Grande Rue have been the scene of most of the commerce of Brittany, Anjou and Normandy. Much of the medieval town is still evident in the town wall, the towers and ramparts.

The old town expands all around the castle from the port Beucheresse to the river. In the middle ages the river was the life of the city. The Washroom boats are a reminder of this.

The Perrine gardens, between the castle and the basilica, are at the heart of the town and  honour one of the town's child prodigies, the sailor Alain Gerbault. A replica of his boat 'The Firecrest' can be found there.

A recent historical find were the Spas of Entrammes. Discovered in 1987 they can be dated back to the 3rd century. They are unusual in having kept their brick decorations. They were made up of four rooms - cold room, tepid room, steam room and then hot room. Paintings and statues decorated these rooms with great refinement. When the Roman Empire collapsed the building was transformed into a church in the 5th century.

The twinning organisation has a website with more detail and pictures - www.boston-laval-twinning.org

Contact Ian Clayton at glenhurst@btinternet.com or call on 01205 363976 and 07812 682123 to find out how you can become involved.

Boston also has friendship arrangements with its twin in America and Hakusan in Japan.

The connections with Boston, Massachusetts, are celebrated by the Historic Bostons Partnership and more information can be found at http://www.historicbostons.org/

The connection with Hakusan began with school exchanges in 1994 and was formalised in 2002.

Every year students travel between the countries to experience a home stay and find out a little about each other's cultures.

A group of students from Hakusan visited Boston last year, and a return visit to Hakusan by students from the Boston area will take place this July.

Find out more at http://www.city.hakusan.ishikawa.jp/language/en/friendship_cities.html