Photo courtesy of Mercer Island Sister City Association                                Most of the Mercer Island delegation in Thonon, France, overlooking Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

Photo courtesy of Mercer Island Sister City Association Most of the Mercer Island delegation in Thonon, France, overlooking Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

Sister city relationship continues

Mercer Island mayor signs agreement with mayor of Thonon les Bains, France.

  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 9:37am
  • Life

By Jane Meyer Brahm

Special to the Reporter

In July, 2000, two mayors – one from Thonon les Bains, France and the other from Mercer Island – signed a proclamation declaring that their cities would be “sister cities,” pledging mutual friendship, respect and commitment to forging a long and productive sister city relationship.

It was a leap of faith. No one knew if the “twinning” would last.

But 20 years later, Mercer Island and Thonon les Bains, France, remain strong sisters, and the relationship is deep and enduring.

In February, a delegation of 16 adults from Mercer Island traveled to Thonon les Bains to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the “jumelage” (sister city twinning) between the two cities, and to lay the groundwork for the next 20 years.

During a five-day stay in Thonon, the group toured the city, visited the Chateau de Ripaille and the Thursday market, and visited the new cultural center and city library created in a former convent from the 17th century. They toured Thonon’s water treatment plant, as well as the nearby Evian water factory. They toured Switzerland’s last operating salt mine and spent a day in the mountains in the resort of Les Gets. One evening a troupe of singers and dancers in vintage costumes performed to the traditional music of the Haute Savoie region. On another evening, the group was entertained by a talented jazz trio.

“The people of Thonon were wonderfully welcoming,” said Roberta Lewandowski, president of the Mercer Island Sister city Association. “And we learned a lot about their cultural history as well as current government systems. It was a very educational trip.”

There were informal opportunities to ask questions and discuss similarities and differences between the two cities, and to talk about possible future exchanges. It was, by all accounts, also a very fun trip – with lots of food and wine and cheese. It should be noted that all participants, including Mayor Benson Wong, paid their own expenses.

One moving event was visiting a knoll in the mountains above Thonon, where in 1944 an American B-17 shot down by Germans managed to crash-land with only one engine. All nine crew members survived and were taken by members of the French Resistance to safety in nearby Switzerland. There’s a tiny chapel at the site, with plaques commemorating the event, symbols of the gratitude of the French for the role of the U.S. in World War II.

The highlight of the delegation was a ceremony in Thonon’s Hotel de Ville, during which Thonon mayor Jean Denais and Mercer Island’s Mayor Benson Wong signed official documents rededicating their cities to the continuing Sister City relationship. In an exchange of gifts, the Mercer Island Sister City Association gave to Thonon a piece of custom glass art depicting mountains, a lake and bridge, engraved to mark the anniversary. The City of Thonon gave to Mercer Island a large original painting of three sailboats on a lake, which likely will be displayed in City Hall.

Jane Meyer Brahm handles publicity and communication for the Mercer Island Sister City Association.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Life

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

By Larry Lark, contributor How do you top the 2021 Dodge Durango… Continue reading

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD
Car review: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD

By Larry Lark, contributor If you want something truly special, get in… Continue reading

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport
Car review: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor Subaru has made a few tweaks to improve… Continue reading

T
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab Custom… Continue reading

2021 Lexus NX 300h
Car review: 2021 Lexus NX 300h

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Lexus NX 300h luxury sports utility… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country
Car review: 2021 Chevy Tahoe 4WD High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for short, in the… Continue reading

Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle. Courtesy photo
Car review: Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle

By Larry Lark, contributor Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle continues… Continue reading

2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL
Car review: 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL

By Larry Lark, contributor Compact sedans are not in vogue now, but… Continue reading

2020 Honda Insight. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Honda Insight

By Larry Lark, contributor Honda’s Civic and Accord have been bestsellers for… Continue reading

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

By Larry Lark, contributor With each passing year Toyota continues to refine… Continue reading

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE

By Larry Lark, contributor Toyota’s venerable Corolla received a bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation… Continue reading

2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

By Larry Lark, contributor Volkswagen’s full-size Atlas SUV received a bold refresh… Continue reading