Wokingham has been twinned with Erftstadt, in Germany, since 1977 and Viry-Chatillon, in France, since 1988.

Twinning became popular after the Second World War, with the aim of building links and exchanges between individual towns and cities in the hope that it would bring reconciliation and prosperity after years of conflict.

The Wokingham Town Twinning Association has been instrumental in organising various visits and activities to both towns over the years and Wokingham has hosted and welcomed visitors here too.

The Town Twinning Association closed in 2022 and group visits are no longer arranged.  However, a number of our residents still remain in contact with good friends in Erftstadt and Viry-Châtillon, and links are also still made through some of our local schools too.

If you’d like to learn a little more about our twinned towns, please see below:

Erftstadt literally means “Town on the Erft” and is located about 12 miles south west of Cologne. Erftstadt was formed, during local government reorganisation in 1969 from a collection of 15 small towns and villages. The largest of these towns are Lechenich and Liblar and the oldest town in Erftstadt celebrated the 700th anniversary of its charter in 1979. The total population is approximately 49,000 and the town has an area of some 120 square kilometres of which 80% is still devoted to agriculture.

Lechenich was founded in 1279 and was a walled and moated town connected to the local aristocratic family of Metternich whose seat was Schloss Gracht. Liblar was important as a centre of the brown coal open cast mining industry. The area on the outskirts of the town that had previously been worked, has now been reclaimed and transformed into a large and beautiful leisure park of woods, lakes and nature park.

Just like Wokingham, housing has sprung up in most areas and there was a conscious effort to provide new infrastructure which included a shopping centre, swimming pool and a new Town Hall. Many of the occupants of Erftstadt commute to larger neighbouring towns, particularly Cologne, and there are also excellent motorway links to Bonn and Dusseldorf.

A favourite trip for many visitors to Erftstadt is a visit to the Eifel region. Less than one hours drive from Erftstadt, this hilly region offers beautiful panoramic scenery and a host of pretty towns and villages. One such is the ancient walled town of Bad-Munstereifel. To the north west is the wine producing region of the Ahr valley. Typical of so many wine producing villages is Ahrweiler famous as a spa and well known for its red wine.

Bonn, the capital of the Federal Republic, and Cologne with its magnificent cathedral and stylish shopping centre are also favourite places to visit. The great river Rhine which flows through both cities offers many opportunities for excursions and discoveries in both directions.

There is no shortage of cultural activities in Erftstadt and there is a fortnights Cultural Festival each year with exhibitions, performances, lectures, poetry and readings. Artistic projects with a twinning flavour include Hanneke Blessing’s project of ceramic relief worked by artists from our three twin towns and Sabine Boebe’s mural on her neighbour´s wall depicting the journey from Erftstadt to Wokingham.

Sports enthusiasts are also well catered for in Erftstadt and this is an area which was targeted early on in the twinning of the two towns. For over ten years the Carl Schurz Football Cup was competed for by teams from Wokingham and Erftstadt with a similar tennis tournament for the girls. In the past teams from both towns have competed at hockey, badminton, tennis and chess.

One in four people in Erftstadt pursue some form of sporting activity and, in addition to the sports above there are opportunities for swimming, golf, clay shooting, howling, horse riding and many others.

February is Karneval in Erftstadt, and this is a favourite time for visits from both Wokingham and Viry-Châtillon. Being near to Cologne, one of the great Karneval cities, Erftstadt bursts into “annual madness” with crazy costumes and fabulous floats. Kolsch, the local beer From Cologne, flows freely, as does the wine, the Schnapps and the Klare.

Then there are the Kirmes or church festivals and the Volksfeste or people´s fairs. There’s the St Martins Latern procession and the famous Gymnicher Ritt, a cross country procession, first mentioned in 1809 but probably much older which originating from a procession to bless the crops. Last, but by no means least, the famous Weihnachts Markt or Christmas Fair.

To view Erftstadt’s Council website click here: erftstadt.de/web/

No, you can´t see the Eiffel Tower from Viry-Châtillon, but there´s a very good chance you´ll catch a glimpse of it on your journey to Viry. Viry-Châtillon is situated about 12 kilometres south of Paris, close to Orly airport, alongside the N7 and close to the river Seine.

On opening a map of the Isle-de-France region for the first time, Viry-Châtillon does not stand out. However the town is of regional importance. The Paris to Orleans mainline railway, the Paris to Lyon motorway and the Montereau to Paris to Rouen waterway all pass through or close to Viry. The town is situated about 12 kilometres south of Paris, close to Orly airport, alongside the N7 and close to the river Seine.

Historically Viry-Châtillon came about from the joining of two villages – Viry sur Seine and Châtillon sur Orge. Mention of Viry can he found in solicitors records, dated 1093, at Longpont Abbey within which are named a certain Mr Vilgrin, horseman and Lord of Longpont. Châtillon on the other hand was known to be the site of a feudal castle on the banks of the river Seine Viry, which houses many historical buildings the most famous of which is Saint Deny´s church dating from the twelfth century, was known as a resort area for Parisian nobles and gentry as early as the sixteenth century.

Many well known people such as Marshall Marmont came to live in Viry as did the Perrault brothers. Charles Perrault was a well known story writer and author of the well known fairy tales Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. Le Notre created the gardens of the Orange grove and Louis the fourteenth considered choosing Viry for his residence, before finally settling on Versailles.

Châtillon, meanwhile, had become one of the cornerstones of regional development, with its port on the Seine dealing in wine, grain and coal.

The joining of the two villages took place in 1490, with the creation of Viry-Châtillon The town´s first mayor, Mr Larue, took office in 1790 when the population was 408. The coming of the railway and the aeroplane at the beginning of the century played an important role in Viry-Châtillon´s development Especially important was the creation of Port Aviation, the world´s first aerodrome.

In more recent times quarries and sandpits have played an equally important role in the town´s development. The result of these workings is the fine set of lakes and associated water sports facilities that Viry is justly renowned for. The lakes offer sailing, water-ski, power boat and diving activities, all of which can be viewed from the town´s chair lift. There are also two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), two large sports stadia, five gymnasia, 15 tennis courts; and an ice rink which is home to one of France´s leading ice hockey teams. Sport holds an important place in lives of the people of Viry-Châtillon, but there are many cultural activities that also take place in the town.

Saint Deny´s Church is the home of a famous music festival, there are three cultural centres which offer numerous activities in various parts of the town, and the festival which takes place on the lake attracts large crowds from all over the area. The Place de la Republique, in the centre of the town is dominated by the Hotel de Ville, or Town Hall. This imposing classically styled building with its fountains to the front and beautiful Mayors Garden to the rear, is typically French. Viry-Châtillon has a blend of old and modern architecture from period houses and public buildings, to modern apartments and shops.

A short walk from the Hotel de Ville will take you to the Market Place which has an indoor market surrounded by stalls and a mixture of boutiques and traditional French shops The market, open on Sundays, is always very popular with visitors. There are pleasant walks around the town, cafes and bars, and a number of fine restaurants. The Orangery, the Church of Saint Denys, the Shell Chapel, and la Ferme are some of the other local landmarks.

To view Viry-Châtillon’s Council’s website click here: ville-chatillon.fr/

For any queries regarding our twinned towns, please contact our Civic Officer.