Eric Vannier was mayor of Mont-Saint-Michel for 24 years. Elected for the first time in 1983, he had the honor of being the youngest mayor in France and to be re-elected until 2001, then from 2008 to 2014. In recognition of his longevity in office of elected and for having given 24 years the best of himself in the service of Mons and Mont St Michel, Eric Vannier was named honorary mayor of Mont Saint Michel in April 2014. This award honors a long career in the service of general interest as a former mayor of Mont Saint Michel, general counsel of the English Channel and regional councilor of Lower Normandy.
During his public career, he illustrated himself by numerous actions to improve the lives of Mons, tourist, economic and cultural revaluation of Mont St Michel and its national and international reputation. His career as mayor was marked by the “Great restoration Project of the maritime character of Mont Saint-Michel” that he carried and sustained with energy with the state of the Basse-Normandie region, the department of the English Channel, the township of Mont Saint-Michel. This project will be completed in 2015 and is to date the largest ecological project in the twenty-first century and will forever mark the history of Mont St. Michel.
Upon his arrival at the head of the municipality of Mont-Saint-Michel in 1983, Eric Vannier is full of ambition for this town he loves so much and has come to know intimately from an early age. He sets to work to fundamentally transform the town of Mont Saint Michel and improve the lives of its inhabitants.
He thinks of safety first of Mons and Mont Saint Michel. This will result over the years to the establishment of a system of centralized alarm monitoring and video surveillance to ensure the protection of people and heritage of Mont St-Michel. In the same way he contributed to reorganize the team of the fire department which includes professional and volunteer fire-fighters, security guards, Mons and the establishment of a common security plan.
During his terms of office, the mayor of Mont St Michel has also changed the organization of the municipal staff, which led to the increase in the number of municipal police in order to ensure the protection and well-being of the residents and visitors of Mont Saint Michel.
On his initiative, the sanitation union grouping the townships of Ardevon, Beauvoir and Mont St Michel is created and allows the realization of a sanitation project to finally put an end to the pollution of the river Couesnon by the discharge of wastewater.
Initiated in 1983 by Eric Vannier, this project helps preserve the unique character of the island Mont Saint-Michel that is threatened by the natural action of the tides that accumulate 100,000 tons of sediment each year. This, according to experts, would have led to the irreversible attachment of Mont St Michel to the mainland by 2040.
To face this major ecological and environmental threat, Eric Vannier helped launch the “Great Restoration Project of the maritime character” which plans to build a dam that removes sand from the bay through a lugger technique and a pedestrian bridge to allow the tides and river Couesnon to wander around Mont Saint-Michel.
In 1995, Eric Vannier signed the official agreement of the project with the state, the Basse-Normandie region, the department of the English Channel and the township of Mont Saint-Michel.
In 2009, the dam on the Couesnon river is completed and the results of dredging are already visible near the rock.
The years 2010-2012 marked the beginning of the construction of reception facilities and public transport and the development of the new parking.
The shuttles were put into service in 2012 and in 2014 the pedestrian bridge is open to all to connect the continent to Mont St Michel.
The end of the big project is scheduled for 2015 after the destruction of the causeway and the return of Mont Saint-Michel in its original maritime character. This is a huge contribution to the future of Mont St Michel.
A year after his election in 1984, the former mayor of Mont-Saint-Michel signed the first agreement with the state defining the relationship between the Abbey and the village. The township and the monument are now close together, relationships are tracked and constant with the different actors and the cultural aspect of Mont St Michel knows since a flourishing development.
Eric Vannier also revalorized the communal heritage. This will be the first “Norman Centre for Information and Meetings”, a new space on the Mont Saint Michel to work and host seminars.
Then it will be the rehabilitation of the old school to create a meeting place for Mons and welcome artists wishing to exhibit in the Wonder. Eric Vannier has also said: “This is a way to preserve our heritage, the school will become a friendly place to meet but we will also be open to all. The first exhibition will be devoted to the Japanese city Miyajima with which we paired. ”
Eric Vannier participates in the “Project for permanent lighting of Mont Saint-Michel” in collaboration with the state, as well as Christmas lights, very popular with locals and visitors. These lights, in addition to their aesthetics, are also used for the development of the Mount, including its Abbey. Enlightened, this grandiose architectural monument is sublimated to the delight of tourists still staying on the Mont St Michel.
With Eric Vannier, Le Mont Saint Michel also became the theater of cultural and sporting events.
For example, the International Festival of Mont Saint Michel in 1987 that includes many artists.
And the creation of the marathon of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in 1998, a race of 42 kilometers between Cancale and Mont Saint Michel which annually attracts thousands of French and international runners.
The Mount also hosted the Tour de France twice: in 1990, the Mont Saint Michel was the arrival of the 4th stage after 203km from Nantes , and in 2013 the Mont Saint Michel was the arrival of a stage against the clock from Avranches. These events have significantly increased the radiation of Mont-Saint-Michel, who also ranked first natural and cultural French site in World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and also through the arrival of many personalities.
Mont Saint-Michel not only attracts visitors but also foreign delegations and VIPs from around the world.
In 1983, Eric Vannier participated in the launch of the “Great Restoration Project of the Maritime Character of Mount Mont St-Michel” and got for the opportunity President François Mitterrand that gave a speech at the Abbey to launch the project and removed the first stone of the dam of the rock Roche Torin.
A year later, April 28th 1984, the official ceremony for the inscription on the World Heritage of the “Wonder of the West” was organized by the mayor of Mont Saint Michel with the managing director of UNESCO, Amadou-Mahtar MBOW. Many French ministers were also present for the occasion, including Jack Lang, Minister of Culture and Paul Quilès, Minister of Planning.
On November 30th 1988, Eric Vannier welcomed Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister and François Mitterrand, President of the Republic at a summit on East-West relations, human rights and disarmament. During his speech, Mitterrand stressed that “Thatcher pointed out that we were in a beautiful place, it’s true and we feel like it.” On this occasion, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand lunched in the famous Hostel La Mère Poulard.
At the signing of the formal agreement between the state, Basse-Normandie, the English Channel and the Mont Saint Michel area on April 1st 1995, Eric Vannier received Edouard Balladur, the Prime Minister of the time, giving a speech for the sand removal of the Mount and promised to affect 300 million francs on the state budget for this project. A promise that was kept by his successor Alain Juppé.
Finally in 2007, the Mont Saint Michel welcomed Nicolas Sarkozy as well as his future Prime Minister Francois Fillon, to launch his presidential campaign. Nicolas Sarkozy described the Mont St Michel as “a very symbolic place of what man has done better but also human errors, nature, what we can do to fix things, the encounter between a secular republic and at the same time a spirituality.”
In 2015, the president Francois Hollande is expected to officially inaugurate the end of construction of the “Great Restoration Project of the maritime character of Mont Saint Michel.” Eric Vannier, former mayor of Mont Saint Michel will attend the ceremony as honorary mayor of Mont Saint Michel. Thus, from François Mitterrand to François Hollande, through Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, Edouard Balladur, Alain Juppe and Dominique de Villepin, the highest authorities of the State found themselves united around the “Big Projet of Mont Saint Michel” . As Eric Vannier had wanted since 1983, the “Great Restoration Project of the maritime character of Mont Saint Michel” is a project of national consensus, turned to the world and that honors France.
In line with his ambitions for tourism in Mont Saint Michel, Eric Vannier heavily involved in developing the Japanese market since 1980 with trade with the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and also conducting trade with Japanese sacred island of Miyajima, coupled town with the Mount since May 16th, 2009.
The cultural outreach of Mont-Saint-Michel, associated with the image of France, have attracted many Japanese visitors to the Norman site. Japanese tourism jumped from 5,000 visitors per year to more than 400,000 today and participated in the growth of the local economy and jobs.
Eric Vannier becomes the “ambassador” of the Mont Saint Michel and its inhabitants by going repeatedly to Japan and many other foreign countries.
During his travels abroad, he aims to make known the Mont and popular by foreign populations.
He will also be at the origin of the twinning of the Mont Saint Michel with Mount Taishan, the sacred and very popular mountain in China, and participates in many activities to develop the image and reputation of Mont Saint Michel in the world.
Eric Vannier has deeply changed the Mont-Saint-Michel by modernizing it and preserving its original appearance. The small French town has become a city looking to the future. It is for those 24 years of loyal service that Eric Vannier was awarded April 15th , 2014 and received the title of honorary mayor of Mont Saint Michel.
Eric Vannier was also named in 1989 by the Minister of Culture Jack Lang, Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature for the cultural measures he has taken for the township of Mont Saint Michel.