One of the country’s oldest twinning arrangements will be celebrated in Medway next week (May 19-21) with a Taste of France coming to Chatham.

The event marks the fifty fifth anniversary of the link between the town and Valenciennes, a community in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais near the Belgian border. 

A three day French market will be held in Military Road, Chatham, beginning on Thursday, 19 May with speciality food and crafts on display. On the third day, Saturday, 21 May, musicians and dancers will give performances and there will also be the chance to learn more about French cuisine from the town’s experts.

Fashion shows will take place in the Pentagon Shopping Centre on May 21 with the theme of the 1950s. Visitors are encouraged to dress in the costume from the time with prizes on offer for the best outfits.

Robin Cooper, Medway Council’s Director of Regeneration, Community and Culture, said: “We are delighted to celebrate this special occasion by bringing a Gallic flavour to the streets of Kent. It’s a superb opportunity for food,fashion and fun.”

Visitors from Valenciennes will be here for the Summer Dickens Festival next month (June)and Medway representatives will be going to the French town in September for their annual carnival.

The two towns were first linked in 1956, making this the second oldest link of its kind between communities in the UK and France, and since then there have been regular social, cultural and economic exchanges.

The European Union has helped fund arts initiatives and the development of specialist training for engineers from both communities.Work experience placements have taken place at Mid Kent College and the College in Vallenciennes for students of catering, hospitality, hairdressing and beauty.