The French community in the Algarve is well catered for, with the most representative association being the UFE Algarve, the regional branch of the ‘Union des Français à l’Etranger’. As concerns the western tip of the Algarve, another association – Les Copains de Lagos – looks after the needs of French-speaking residents in that area.
Created by Frenchman Patrice Chedozeau in 2015, the association has a membership of 400 as well as its own website https://lescopainsdelagos.com and Facebook page: Les Copains de Lagos.
Initially named ‘Les Amis de Lagos’, it only became officialised in 2017 under the current more colloquial heading ‘copains’, which also stands for ‘friends’.
In 2018, an agreement was signed with Boavista who put six petanque (French bowls) tracks at the disposal of the association.
Besides a monthly lunch or dinner for anywhere between 40 and 60 members, a variety of activities such as walks, bicycle rides, society games as well as petanque are proposed, each one with a team leader.
Conferences on the subjects of health, housing and taxation, held in the past, have also been organised in the Lagos town hall.
One of the goals is to assist new arrivals and, to this effect, the association opened its office in Lagos last year that also serves as a library with over 1,200 books. Due to the Covid virus, town officials have delayed its inauguration.
Furthermore, Les Copains de Lagos participates in humanitarian and ecological actions such as financial support towards the local firefighters during the terrible fires.
The association has also taken part in beach cleanups led by local authorities in Lagos. Each week, an activity agenda is emailed to its members and a monthly meeting with team leaders enables an activity report to be sent out as well.
Now that weekend travel restrictions have been lifted, I was able to attend a long-awaited spring gathering for its members on Sunday, May 2. It was the occasion for an outdoor buffet lunch served in the grounds of Aldeia Azul, a very attractive local resort.
On arrival, we were greeted by Patrice and George Humphreys who was in charge of showing us around the resort as a recently signed agreement now allows members of Copains de Lagos to benefit from its facilities in exchange for an optional yearly subscription.
Following the traditional ‘aperitif’, members lined up at the buffet where a paella main course was served by the Brazilian chef from U.Puro, a popular Lagos restaurant. French cheese and Portuguese wines were supplied and, to round off the informal lunch, a French pastry chef from Lagos provided a selection of her delicacies.
Although most of those attending were French, I did meet a duo of Swiss bikers as well as a Franco-Portuguese couple.
The Algarve does, indeed, have a lot more to offer than just golf and pastel de nata!
Copies of French-language magazine Vivre Le Portugal, published by the Open Media Group (publishers of the Algarve Resident), were also distributed among members.
By DOUGLAS HALLAWELL