Les Associations – join the club!
The beginning of autumn (September) brings out the Forums des Associations in every town and village throughout the region.
Often running alongside an autumn fair, a local produce market or a good old apéro, this gives local clubs and community groups a chance to strut their stuff.
It also gives us a chance to sample and enroll in the many activities, sports clubs, community and social organisations available in the area throughout the year.
‘La vie associative’ is an important part of French community life, with over a million associations offering all manner of educational and leisure pursuits.
Originally, most groups were run either by the Catholic Church or a political party. However, following the laïcité (secular) laws introduced in 1905, a new government made up of anti-clerical atheists decided to separate state and church and reduce the power of the clergy.
The aim of the asso is to provide groups of two or more people with shared interests the chance to establish not-for-profit organisations, to meet and to raise funds legally.
All associations must have a ‘Bureau’ consisting of president, treasurer and secretary. These positions are voluntary and unpaid. Salaried staff cannot be part of this management structure, so a person setting up an association will often ask family and friends to form the ‘bureau,’ in order that he or she might receive a salary for the activity.
Associations may organise 2 ‘rifles’ (bingo) per year to raise funds for their activities, so when you see the RIFLE posters going up around the region in late autumn, your support will be much appreciated – and who doesn’t enjoy a game of bingo really?
Don’t let shaky French put you off. They usually appreciate new members and are happy to make an effort to speak slowly or do whatever it takes to help you to fit it.
Why not pop along to the Forum des Associations in your town or village? You might well be surprised at the activities on offer.
Here’s a few dates across the region :
Saturday 7th September
Argelès sur Mer, 10am – 5pm, Espace Jean Carrère
Bages, 2pm – 6pm, Médiathèque
Banyuls sur Mer, 9am – 1pm, Front de Mer
Canet en Roussillon, 10am – 7pm, Théâtre de la Mer
Céret, 9am – 12pm, Boulevard Maréchal Joffre
Palau del Vidre, 3.30pm – 6pm, Salle du foyer François Tané
Port Vendres, 9am – 1pm, Place de l’Obélisque
Saint Génis des Fontaines, 10am – 4pm, Salle polyvalent
Saint Marie la Mer, 10am – 1pm, Salle Omega
Sorède, from 10am, Complexe Sportif
Thuir, time TBC, Boulevard Mitterand
Sunday 8th September
Elne, 9am – 3pm, Complexe Sportif
Ille sur Tet, 10am – 4pm, Espace la Catalane
Saint Cyprien, 10am – 6pm, Grand Stade les Capellans
Saint Laurent de la Salanque, 10am – 5pm, Complexe Latécoère
Saturday 14th September
Amélie les Bains, 2pm – 6pm, Avenue du Vallespir
Le Barcarès, 9am – 6pm, Mas de l’Ille
Le Boulou, 10am – 5pm, Complexe des Echards
Saint Paul de Fenouillet, 9am – 12.30pm, Foyer rural
Sunday 15th September
Saint André, 9am – 4pm, Place Arago
Saint Estève, 10am – 5pm, Espace Saint Mamet
Saturday 28th September
Montesquieu des Albères, from 10am, Salle Thubert