Le Haillan (population 10,000) is a quiet residential suburb to the north-west of Bordeaux and is arguably best-known for its château ...

Le Haillan’s three twin roundabouts

Le Haillan (population 10,000) is a quiet residential suburb to the north-west of Bordeaux and is arguably best-known for its château, which is the headquarters and training centre of local top-flight football team Girondins de Bordeaux. Down the years, the town has also developed ties with three twin towns elsewhere in Europe, and these links are celebrated in a series of landscaped roundabouts.
Our first stop is Enderby (population: 8,000) in Leicestershire, England, which is represented by a reproduction of an old-school red telephone box, a genuine letterbox and a piece of granite from Enderby Quarry which, the plaque reads, “was presented by Enderby Parish Council to the council of Le Haillan on the occasion of the twinning of Enderby and Le Haillan on the 18th April, 1987”.

A rare example of French and British letterboxes pictured together!
Since then the twinning has gone from strength to strength. The committee organises coach trips (1,200 kilometres each way!) for families to visit their “twin” counterparts and sample the village centre which, according to an ever-reliable source, “has a newsagents, petrol station, florists, beauty salon, delicatessen, library, cafe, bookmakers, and hand car wash”. The committee also runs exchange programmes between secondary schools (the twinning actually came about because of existing links between schools in the two towns) and year-round English-language courses for adults at the local cultural centre.

The second roundabout represents Colindres (population, again 8,000), Le Haillan’s Spanish twin. This fishing port is located a “mere” 400 kilometres away, just to the east of Santander on the Bay of Biscay. The maritime theme is clear to see on our roundabout: we give you a boat, complete with mast and fishing net, beached on stony sand coupled with two oars and an anchor.

The twinning agreement was set up in 1990 and, given the relative proximity of the towns, there is a steady stream of trips and exchanges between the two, and regular events that range from language lessons to tapas parties! Colindres has rapidly become a popular destination: inland from the port area is the old town with some fine examples of 16th- and 17th-century architecture, most notably San Juan Baustita parish church.

Our final stop is the roundabout that represents Kalambaka or, in its anglicised form, Kalabaka (population: 11,000), a town which is tucked in amongst the famous Meteora rock towers in the Thessaly region of central Greece, some 2,500 kilometres away from Le Haillan. Le Haillan and Kalabaka have been twin towns since October 1992 and the French arm of the association, like the others, organises regular trips, exchanges and conferences.

In Kalabaka itself, the name of which derives from the Turkish word for “powerful fortress”, the oldest surviving building is the late 11th-/early 12th-century cathedral, although the “ruins” on the roundabout possibly hark back further than that. Unlike on the Enderby roundabout, there is no plaque claiming authenticity so I have a funny feeling the pillar is not from Ancient Greece but rather from the local garden centre. 

And that is where our pan-European trip through Le Haillan comes to an end, without forgetting that the three twins can also be spotted in Bordeaux itself, where the 50 or so trams have all been given the names of towns or cities that are twinned with communities in greater Bordeaux: so keep your eyes peeled for trams #2223 (Enderby), #2213 (Colindres) and #2220 (Kalambaka)!


  1. Le Haillan has now almost 10 000 inhabitants.
    Bernard P. SARLANDIE, municipal councillor

    1. Thanks! The figure has been updated accordingly.