St Etienne City Hall

About us

The 2010 results
The 2010 project
The 2010 finalists
Code of Ethics
The World Mayor Prize

The 2008 results
The 2008 project
The 2008 finalists
The World Mayor Award

The 2006 results
The 2006 finalists
The World Mayor Award
Dora Bakoyannis congratulates John So

With Mayor of Amsterdam
With Mayor of Harrisburg
With Mayor of Melbourne
With Mayor of St Etienne

Mayor of Amsterdam
Mayor of Antananarivo
Mayor of Augsburg
Mayor of Denver
Mayor of Dubrovnik
Mayor of Harrisburg
Mayor of Makati City
Mayor of Melbourne
Mayor of St Etienne
Mayor of Valencia

On Mayor of Amsterdam
On Mayor of Antananarivo
On Mayor of Augsburg
On Mayor of Bangalore
On Mayor of Belo Horizonte
On Mayor of Denver
On Mayor of Dubrovnik
On Mayor of Harrisburg
On Mayor of Houston
On Mayor of Istanbul
On Mayor of Makati City
On Mayor of Melbourne
On Mayor of Mulhouse
On Mayor of New Orleans
On Mayor of New York
On Mayor of Phnom Penh
On Mayor of Sofia
On Mayor of St Etienne
On Mayor of Taipei
On Mayor of Toronto
On Mayor of Valencia (VE)

By Mayor of Amsterdam
By Mayor of Augsburg
By Mayor of Belo Horizonte
By Mayor of Dubrovnik
By Mayor of Makati City
By Mayor of Melbourne
By Mayor of Valencia

The 2005 results
Contest methodology
List of finalists
Winning mayors write
Mayor Rama writes - Mayor Bakoyannis replies

The 2004 contest
List of all 2004 finalists
Edi Rama wins 2004 award
People ask - Edi Rama replies

Front Page
Site Search
About City Mayors

St Etienne Mayor Michel Thiollière
questioned by an international audience

City Mayors invited those who participated in World Mayor 2006 to put questions to St Etienne Mayor Michel Thiollière, ranked fifth out of 50 in World Mayor 2006. From the questions received, a representative selection was forwarded to the Mayor. Below, he replies in detail, as well as with candour and thoughtfulness.

Questions & Answers
From Bertrand D., St Etienne
What does St Etienne need to offer and how does the city need to present itself to attract French and international business as well as tourists?

Michel Thiollière replies: Gradually the new image of the town is getting to be obvious. More and more, Saint-Etienne is perceived as “the place to be”. Saint-Etienne Metropole has a territorial development strategy that is based upon an ambitious housing policy and the development of the main infrastructures linked to travel and economic development. Tourists will be drawn to the region when we make known to them the beauties of the region, and the effectiveness of communications. We are focusing on developing quality of life for our inhabitants in areas such as waste disposal, river preservation and protection of the air that we breathe - with particular emphasis on sustainable development.

Universities, industrialists and researchers have combined to create new training courses and to improve student living conditions. Such policies attract people and business to the area. Economic development is a key component in this. More and more, the world of economics and the press is intrigued by the city. They instinctively think and talk about Saint-Etienne, making it known that “something is going on…” By relying on the culture of solidarity and welcome intrinsic to the inhabitants of Saint Etienne, we can open up the city to the world.

For ten years, Saint Etienne City and St Etienne Metropole have attended international meetings within great city networks (CGLU, Eurocities and so on). We have become active participants in these meetings in which we explain our industrial restructuring in creative engineering and innovation. In this way we have been in contact with about fifty European communities.

Saint Etienne is well known for its soccer team, and I hope it will be just as well known for its excellence in optics, mechanical engineering, medical technology and other expertises. Tourism is soaring following the creation of the tourist information office of Saint Etienne Metropole. The main topics of interest are architectural and industrial heritage, especially the architectural traditions of Le Corbusier.

From Jean Claude M., St Etienne
Question: St Etienne has a wonderful and highly informative city website. Why does it not provide translation into other European languages as well as, for example, Arabic and Chinese?

Michel Thiollière replies: The English version of our website is about to be launched. For the moment, English will be the only foreign language because most people all over the world understand it. But you are right; to be open to the world Saint Etienne Metropole has to communicate in appropriate languages. It will be available soon

From Olivier B., Paris
I was born in St Etienne but now live, for professional reasons, in Paris. I am always surprised that the national media hardly ever mentions St Etienne and the events that take place in the city. How do you propose to promote the city more forcefully, nationally and internationally?

Michel Thiollière replies: You are right to underline the importance of communication for an area undergoing such a transformation as ours. Great cities are in competition within the European ‘space’ and the image they project plays a strong part in their attractiveness. Gradually the city is getting more and more focus in the media. Culture is a good way of ensuring important media coverage. Culture plays a part in many of our initiatives. We have in our favour the City of Design and the International Biennial of Design, the Corbusier site in Firminy under the patrimony of Unesco, the high quality of the museums (the Modern Art Museum with the second most important collection of modern art in France after the Beaubourg museum, the Museum for Art and Industry and the Museum for mining activities).

Furthermore, many initiatives to further promote culture are under way: the first Zenith in Rhône-Alpes, the Scène for “Musiques Actuelles”, as well as several urban projects involving famous architects such as Norman Foster and Fumihiko Maki - each of whom is in charge of one of the ‘Ground Zero Towers’. Our application to become “2013 European capital of culture” is based upon our art and culture, which reflects our sense of modernity while embracing the future.

From Muhammad B., Paris
I am a French Muslim and want to live according to my religious beliefs as well as to carry on certain traditions of my parents and grand parents. At the same time I wish to be an integrated part of French society and seen to be so. Am I asking for the impossible?

Michel Thiollière replies: More than 100 different communities are spread over Saint-Etienne. For years they have lived in harmony. Saint-Etienne can be held up as an example of good relationships between peoples and cultures. Personally, I keep alive my relationships with friends of all religions. For example, I have facilitated the construction of religious buildings such as the new mosque of St Etienne. On integration, French society has evolved, showing respect for all citizens. In my own city there is no employment discrimination against anyone. We have many employees from Maghreb, who are valued and appreciated. Hard work and education result in professional success.

From L. B., St Etienne
Parts of the centre of St Etienne are not good. Often houses remain empty until they become uninhabitable. At the same time there is an increasing number of people who prefer to live in the suburbs of the city. How do you propose to make areas like Beaubrun and Tarentaize desirable again?

Michel Thiollière replies: We have major projects underway to improve the structural fabric of the town and to enable it to expand and develop, as well as initiatives to boost arts as a vehicle for development and social cohesion. These projects that will help transform the image and influence of Saint-Etienne and its surrounding areas include the new tramway line, the City of Design and the new district around Châteaucreu. These projects will contribute to gradual urban revitalisation. We are also about to launch, with the help of the government, the “public corporation of Saint-Etienne urban development” scheme that will extend over the next 15 years. Under the scheme, at least one thousand flats will be demolished in order to renew the urban framework of the city centre. The Beaubrun and Tarentaize areas are an integral part of this plan.

From Gerard C., St Etienne
Given the popularity of our football team, is it possible to increase the capacity of the Geoffroy Guichard Stadium?

Michel Thiollière replies: Soccer is part of St Etienne’s culture. Who can forget the “Green Epic” until we lost the 1976 final game in Glasgow? What team doesn’t desire to play in this mythical stadium? A study is to be made into the possibility of increasing the capacity of the stadium by up to more than 45 000 seats, and to offer more comfort to spectators. We have the best spectators in France.

From Benoit B., St Etienne
Which major projects do you plan to implement during the coming five years to make St Etienne one of Europe’s principal cities?

Michel Thiollière replies: Our application to become “2013 European capital of culture” is part of it, and so is our gradual movement towards the position of “French capital of design”. First of all we must restore our self-confidence by inviting people from all over Europe to discover St Etienne’s history and culture, and by encouraging the people of St Etienne to discover other European cultures. Secondly, we shall continue to encourage St Etienne in its design creativity and innovation in engineering in order to win markets. It remains a fact that the rebirth of our city will require improved road and rail accessibility.

From Maxime C., Gentilly
Do you have long-term plans to promote public transport and eventually ban the city centre to all motor traffic with the exception of non-polluting vehicles?

Michel Thiollière replies: Good public transport goes hand in hand with quality of life in towns. For more than 100 years, the inhabitants of St Etienne have been proud of their tramway, the cheapest in France. We have just launched a new tramway line, and built up a new public transport system, linking the town to the train station with buses, tramways and trolleys. We have a ten-year plan to develop public transport by building special lanes for trams and buses to “Plaine Achille” (with the construction of the new A45 highway) and to “La Metare”.

We intend to encourage the development of rail and express tram networks, together with
“soft transport” such as cycle tracks and walkways. We intend to eventually have goods delivered to the centre of town by tramways, moving away from van traffic and pollution. All this is close to my heart

From Robert G., St Etienne
You have been short-listed for the 2006 World Mayor Award. What makes, in your opinion, an outstanding mayor?

Michel Thiollière replies: This is a wide question. I think that an outstanding mayor has first of all to be close to the people - to listen to the people and to invite creative dialogue. But at the same time, he must have a vision for the future that includes the direction and development of the wider world. He must always remain in touch with the local population while expanding such a wealth of experience by national and international contacts. Above all, an outstanding mayor must have the ability to make the right decisions and to solve the problems of inhabitants.

St Etienne Mayor Michel Thiollière

Michel Thiollière

After becoming Mayor of Saint-Etienne and President of its Urban Community (a federation that includes 43 districts and almost 400,000 inhabitants) Michel Thiollière lost no time in launching a major urban renewal project. This would go on to profoundly change the face of the city, allowing both its service sector and cultural and architectural assets to assume their full potential. In 2006 Michel Thiollière was included among the top ten mayors in the annual World Mayor project.

The city has been marked by the upheavals caused by 200 years of industrial revolution. It has also suffered the effects of crises in the mining and metalworking industries. Against this background, Michel Thiollière’s optimistic style has shone through - often contrary to the local mood. On assuming office he quickly set in motion his restructuring plans, making his imprint as a visionary, or more simply as somebody with the capacity to shape the future.

His action has been based upon major projects to improve the structural fabric of the town and to give it the means to expand and develop. In all of this, initiatives to boost the arts as a vehicle for development as well as social cohesion were not forgotten. Today a number of major projects are helping to transform the image and influence of St Etienne and its surrounding area. More