October 2023

24 members and friends arrived at the village of l’Orbière, hidden in the countryside near St. Georges-des-Sept-Voies not far from Gennes, at around 10h30 28 October 2023. History shows that families occupied the troglodyte village during the Middle Ages. By the 20th century, it is estimated that around 50 people occupied 10 separate dwellings which were eventually abandoned in 1960.

Entering the site, everything appeared to resemble any other small disused troglodyte village in the Loire Valley. Nothing appeared unusual. Some rooms were furnished, some weren’t.  However, as gradually the group dispersed and penetrated further into the black holes and underground tunnels that disappear in every direction, we discovered a magical world: a world created in the 1970’s by a Polish artist, Jacques Warminski. The sculptor worked for five years to create the spectacular environment we see today: “l’Helice Terrestre”. Below ground, brilliant blue lighting illuminates his carvings and draws visitors along narrow passageways with uneven lumps and bumps underfoot, towards more amazing creations and incredible sound effects. Above ground, visitors can marvel at the sculptured mound he created and can follow the steps or scramble over the unique abstract shapes to reach the top and view everything from a different angle.

L’Helice Terrestre is the result of the amazing vision of one man. Did he draw up plans or is it the result of an amazing flow of inspiration that encouraged his artistic talent to flourish and grow? 


Leaving l’Orbière with these questions, the group drove the short distance into Gennes itself where 25 members and friends, including several newcomers to our group, enjoyed a very good meal at the restaurant “Les Dames Barrau”. The atmosphere was friendly. Staff were helpful. All in all, it was a perfect follow-up to the magical experience of the morning that was so appropriate for Halloween, just a few days ahead.

ESU LOIRE VALLEY - Upcoming events

Head Office, Dartmouth House

After nearly three years of closure, predominantly due to the pandemic, Dartmouth House opened its doors on Monday, 9 January 2023. Opening hours will be from 09h00 to 18h00, Monday to Friday, and it is hoped that members will return with friends to help make Dartmouth House the vibrant and inclusive setting for the ESU’s charitable work it has always been.

With an ethos based on sustainability, Graysons will be taking over the in-house catering and will serve delicious menus with mouth-watering options for breakfast, with an array of tempting small plates and sharing dishes at lunchtime, not to mention cakes and afternoon tea and tipples. There is something for every occasion and every appetite.

Staff at head office look forward to greeting ESU members in 2023 and wish to remind everyone that membership fees help to provide young people with the life-changing speaking and listening skills and cross-cultural understanding they need to achieve their full potential and to change their lives and communities for the better.

ESU Debate Academy

The unique English Speaking Union residential summer school, Debate Academy, takes place every year in August at Stamford School in Lincolnshire. This friendly, immersive summer school for 14- to 18- year olds offers top-quality coaching in debate to all ability levels. It’s a wonderful opportunity for cultural exchange, in a supportive and fun environment.   

If you would like to send a student to Debate Academy, full information and booking can be found online here:

Trouble Club ‘Trouble in Tech’

Tuesday 12 December. 6.00pm-8.00pm. Members: £5, Non-members: £10, Livestream (Member): FREE, Livestream (Non-member): £5.

The ESU is partnering with the ‘Trouble Club’ to bring you this panel discussion on trends in the tech industry. The evening will be hosted by journalist Charlotte Moore.

Details to be announced.

Other French Branches

Paris branch

Although not organised by the Paris branch, the event below will take place in Paris. Applications should be made to not as shown on the poster.

Bordeaux branch

The “English Café” monthly conversation meetings will recommence September 2023 at the creperie “Twist ‘N’ Crêpes”, 329 Cours de la Libération in Talence, Wednesday evenings between 19h30 and 20h30.

Aix-Marseille branch

Awaiting update.

International Branches


Awaiting report


Happy Hour

The ESU USA is streaming a series of talks that are engaging, fun, and informative. Speakers are live and cover a wide range of topics. All free of charge. The custom is for speakers to suggest a unique cocktail to create and enjoy at home during the talk, hence the name “Happy Hour”.

Sessions are recorded and can be viewed at any time.

For more details:


The English-Speaking Union of Australia comprises branches in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria

The South Australia branch was established 31 August 1923 in Adelaide. To mark the centenary, a special 100th anniversary Christmas lunch is being held in the city Wednesday 13 December 2023, to which all ESU members are invited. Enquiries should be addressed to: ESU Loire Valley sends its congratulations to ESU SA for achieving this milestone.

The branch chairman and secretary will attend the ICM 2023 in Paris in October and plan an extended stay in Europe. Whilst all enquiries are welcome, applications will not be dealt with between late September and mid-November.

Attending other ESU events

A reminder to all that once you have subscribed to the ESU you can pay members’ rates to attend events organised by any branch in France or elsewhere in the world. 

A full list of member countries can be found on the main website: simply click the continent you are looking for under ‘Show Me’ at the top of the page:

Don’t forget to check out the other sites on our Links page.


60 rue Boisnet, 49100 Angers

Open to the public: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 13h00 to 18h00 and Thursday 18h00 to 19h00

Meet the New Library Director Mandy Torsey-Guillet, shown here on the left with retiring director, Phoebe Marshall-Raimbeau.

The BIG Christmas quiz

Sunday, December 3rd, starting promptly at 14h00

The Big Quiz is back with an extra special Christmas edition to mark its 13th year. Come to the library for an afternoon of fun. As usual, the quiz is a team event. Each team has a table for 6 people. You can enter as a team of six; or you can simply join a team which is partially complete and make new friends in doing so.

Each team has a designated colour, and team members may choose to wear clothes of that hue. The teams will be called ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, ‘Pink Floyd’, ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Greensleeves’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Black Eyed Peas’, ‘Simply Red’, ‘Blueberry Hill’, ‘Orange Crush’, ‘Yellow Submarine’.

Questions will cover a wide range of subjects – some topical, some general knowledge, some about France… and all with a Christmas theme. Wine, coffee, tea, and nibbles will be available. All this for just 12 euros per person!

You can sign up directly with the front desk in person, by phone or by email at

The Christmas craft fair will open on 23rd November and continue until 22 December, during which time the Library will be selling donated items. Why not call in to look for Christmas presents? You may also like to donate Items for sale: homemade gifts, gift vouchers, festive baskets, etc., with a minimum value of 20€. All profits will go to the Library funds

Note the date for the annual Christmas carol singing around Angers: Sunday, 17th December 2023

From 1st September registrations can be made for:

For more details of the many social activities that are available through the library, please contact the front desk on, or consult the website.

Angers International Welcome

Awaiting next update.

Check out the website here.

Loire Valley Voices

Do you like singing in French and in English?  The Loire Valley Voices choristers have a repertoire that includes pieces by the Beatles, Sting, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Womach, Laurent Voulzy.  They would welcome new members to their multicultural group, led by choirmaster, Stéphane Claire, who encourages each individual to find their true voice. 

For more details please contact

Bilingual families in Angers

We have been asked to advertise the activities of this group.

Please see below.

Join our community of bilingual (English/French) families in the greater Angers area for fun outdoor activities this summer. If you’d like to attend any (or all!) of the events, email Hilary Hodge at She will send out an email before each event with more details.

The Joy of Teaching English

The regional education board, the Académie de Nantes, is currently looking to recruit native English speakers to become full time or part time English teachers, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

They are looking for people from a whole range of different backgrounds, such as legal, medical, athletic, military, tourism, etc.  Applicants can select the region in which they would prefer to work.  If this is of interest, you can get in touch with the Académie via this link.

You will be asked for a CV, a short letter of motivation and your qualifications. If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend an interview during which all details will be fully explained.

beauville arts

Beauville Arts brings together young people and performing arts professionals to stage inspiring high-quality performances. With an ethos close to that of the ESU, their courses and summer camps “develop talent and boost confidence, helping to create lifelong friendships and precious memories”.

The company works with schools during termtime and provide courses and camps during the holiday period. Themes for 2023 include: West End Medley, High School Musical, Lion King, James Bond, High School Musical, Les Miserables, The Rise of Hamilton, The Greatest Show, Mamma Mia, and Fame. Some courses take place in Beauville, others on the Côte d’Azur and others in Germany.

Courses are taught in English and help develop skills in the English language as well as nurturing performing arts talent. More details can be found on the website: or by contacting


Daily English is an association that provides French young people with the opportunity to learn English by being immersed in a British family and provides British in France with the means to earn an income by teaching and hosting them. Click here to visit the website.

There’s a clear structure to these visits: the youngsters arrive on Sunday afternoon, and the hosts spend the first evening putting them at ease. From Monday to Friday, there’s a lesson after breakfast each day, then an outing and lunch.  In the evenings they all play board games or watch English films.  On Saturday, they leave by 11am.  Lessons are prepared by Daily English Daily who provide a whole teaching programme and the hosts simply print off what they need.

For more details either on how to host or how to find a suitable placement contact Sally on 04 99 65 21 63 or send an e-mail to


30 Rue de la Petite Bilange, 49400 Saumur

Since September 2021, in association with Language Connexion, this primary school has been offering all its pupils every assistance to learn English from an early age.  A young British teaching assistant motivates learning by using songs and rhymes for the early years and by using English to teach various subjects to primary and junior pupils.


What is WWOOF?

WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is an agricultural exchange that provides hands-on experience and education. WWOOF is not considered “work,” but rather a chance to exchange skills and language while learning about organic types of agriculture. Hosts provide housing, three meals per day, and other educational opportunities.

Typically, WWOOFers are expected to assist with farm work for four hours per day and eat with the hosts. During off-hours and weekends, WWOOFers, individuals with interests in agriculture, ecology, biology, environmental studies, sustainability, food systems, and/or English, can explore the locality. 

Monthly skill shares and talks are hosted on the farm and talks are organised to nurture relationships with local universities and agricultural experts.

Peace Rock Farm

Asheville, North Carolina

In keeping with Asheville Sister Cities’ continued efforts in developing educational and international exchanges with our sister cities, the Summer Intern, Blake Noble, a UNCA student who is currently living on Peace Rock Farm is excited to offer a one to two-week-long educational and hands-on agricultural exchange program to individuals involved with ASCI through

Open to receive WWOOFers for one to two weeks from July – Aug 20th with the possibility of finding a week during UNCA’s School semester (Aug 21 – Nov 24th).

Our hostel-style Bunk has the capacity for 3-4 individuals. The laundry, bathroom, and shower are conveniently located nearby. For WWOOFers’ entertainment, there is also an outdoor movie lounge, a ping-pong table, a rope swing, as well as 50+ acres of land, trails, and winding creeks to explore and learn about!

For more information, email:

Association France Grande-Bretagne

For anyone who may be interested, The Association France Grande-Bretagne in Paris are holding an event on Monday 4 December entitled “To be or not to be Shakespeare”

Details are given below, including a Zoom link.