Les Associations – join the club!

Recyclerie du Vallespir

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