Noirmoutrin flea market nets more than $2,500 for Crestview visit

French Sister City students host flea market and crêpes fundraiser

Brian Hughes / Special to the News Bulletin / USA TODAY NETWORK

NOIRMOUTIER-EN-L’ÎLE, France — The 19 French students who will visit Crestview in April 2022 recently held a successful flea market in one of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île’s central downtown parking lots and netted more than $2,500 toward their travel expenses.

“The weather was nice, sunny but not too hot, perfect for this event,” Noirmoutier Sister City Committee President Stéphanie Gallais reported.

At a flea market fundraiser organized by Noirmoutier’s Sister City Committee, Louna Tourneux prepares to plate a freshly made crêpe after Hugo Bugeon spreads Nutella on it. The students from Noirmoutier will visit Crestview with 17 classmates in April 2022.

Many of the island’s 10,000 summer visitors were still at their summer homes or campers, assuring a steady flow of browsers at the event, she said.

The students, who will stay with Crestview High School student hosts when they visit, did most of the work, Gallais said.

“It was a long day for us, arriving at 6:30 and finishing at 19:30 (7:30 p.m.),” she said.

Because last year’s COVID-19 outbreak on Noirmoutier island was largely attributed to an influx of visitors from Paris and other cities who fled to their summer homes as the country went into lockdown, the organizers took plenty of health precautions at their flea market.

“We organized social distancing and created pathways (between booths) to avoid problems between visitors, and we wore masks, had bottles of hand sanitizer, and put up health safety information signs,” Gallais, who is a nurse, said.

Noirmoutrin student Mattéo Touzot strums his guitar as his classmate, Esther Zarka, awaits customers at their flea market booth. The Noirmoutier Sister City Committee student group raised more than $2,500 toward their April 2022 trip to Crestview.

As vendors hawked arts, crafts and flea market wares, the students prepared and sold crêpes and accompanying soft drinks, tea and coffee.

For the signature French pancakes, students Louna Tourneux and Aurane Bidaud melted a dab of butter in a pan, swirled a ladle of batter around then flipped each crêpe to lightly brown the bottom. Then their classmate Hugo Bugeon put a healthy smear of Nutella on each, rolled it up and presented it to the customers. At times, lines formed for the delicacies.

As Alizée Suquet, Prune Rouillon and Esther Zarka observe, Prune's mum entices a customer at their flea market booth during a fundraiser to help send the Noirmoutrin students to Crestview in April 2022.

“We had more than 3 kilograms of batter,” Gallais said, which was nearly 7 pounds. “But the results were good! Selling the (booth) places to exhibitors raised 1,330 euros (about $1,565), plus sales of drinks and crêpes brought 800 euros (about $941).”

The successful event meant a lot of hard work, but the results made it all worthwhile, she said.

“Our students were happy to work,” Gallais said. “They know that the money collected will be used to help us for the Easter trip to Crestview.”

ABOUT CRESTVIEW’S SISTER CITY PROGRAM

Through Sister Cities International, Crestview has partnered with the French island community of Noirmoutier, located off the west coast of France, since 1995.

Periodic exchanges between the communities include group travels (the next trip for Crestview residents is planned for May or June 2022), individual visits, student exchanges and performances on the island by Northwest Florida State College’s student show choirs. College level academic partnerships include student internships and a year of study through NWFSC’s business program.

Crestview’s program was selected by Sister Cities International as the best in its population category for 2020.

For information, contact program president Brian Hughes, 850-398-5459, hughesb@cityofcrestview.org.