Didier Sarda has spent his life giving back to Talloires. A native of the village, he worked for many years at the Office of Tourism, finding ways to introduce Talloires to visitors from around the world. He eventually set up his own event management company, hosting seminars, business meetings, and sporting events that filled the hotels and restaurants in the village. He also managed the taxi company, as well as a small hotel and a traditional Savoyard restaurant – all in Talloires. He likes to boast that all of these jobs have allowed him to live and work in his beloved village.
Didier has been an ardent supporter and friend of the European Center. He ensures that our students, staff, faculty, and visitors are part of the fabric of the village. He has directed conference business to us and has transported all of our guests around the area, from students to political, diplomatic, and scientific VIPs.
In March 2020, Didier was elected Mayor of Talloires, a dream come true for this Talloires devotee. We recently asked him to share his thoughts about the European Center and its relationship to Talloires. In light of the pandemic, Didier noted that the absence of the Tufts programs has made a significant impact on the village. It’s strange, he says, that “the economy is restarting, life is restarting, […] but Tufts isn’t here.” The arrival of the Tufts students typically brings new energy and excitement to Talloires each year: “it’s definitely a sign of the beginning of the [summer] season when all the students arrive in the month of May,” Didier added.
In addition to the arrival of the students, Talloires and its residents also look forward to the other cultural events that the European Center hosts during the summer. “Beyond the students, it’s also the conferences, the artists, and more,” Didier said. “The Priory is one of the primary centers of the village from May to October every year,” bringing new ideas and activities to the community. That the village serves as a cultural crossroads is only natural to the mayor: he understands the often-referenced magic of Talloires. “It’s a place that is enormously inspirational,” he noted, in large part due to its natural beauty. “It inspires artists, it inspires business owners, it inspired monks – so there’s something happening here.”
He takes his role of both resident and mayor seriously in this regard. “As residents of the village – those of us who live here all year – we have the duty to share the village,” he explained. Something he hopes to do through his work is to “continue inspiring people,” and to help keep the magic of Talloires alive and well for generations of visitors to come.