Le Tigre

It is always interesting how sounds can create silence. Atlantic Ocean waves wash smoothly unto the sandy beaches and marsh, as elderly couples and youth admire nature. Sure, we can hear the sound of water, and perhaps even the rustling of tree branches in the breeze, but somehow, quite naturally, there is silence.

We are in Saint-Vincent Sur Jard visiting the house of Georges Clemenceau, who was an important figure in French history and a native of Vendée. He was twice Prime Minister of France, in addition to being a journalist and physician,  and he led in the closing years of World War 1 as one of the key figures who created Treaty of Versailles. 

He spent the last 10 years of his life here because he wanted to though the ocean view was peaceful. I see why he chose this place. On a day like today, I can imagine how tranquil the silence was to him.

“Smileeeee!” says Sinyi. The Taiwanese exchange student has a camera clasped in her tiny fingers and pointed directly at my face. 

“You have to smile in the camera!”

“I don’t like smiling for cameras. It’s pretentious.”

“What? You a bizarre boy!”

A house which once hosted esteemed delegates and foreign ambassadors has been overrun by foreign exchange students, but even with this sudden arrival of modernitym la Maison de Clemenceau commands our attention.

We listen in admiration as the tour guide discusses Clemenceau's life.  He was nicknamed “Le Tigre” for his fierce attitude towards politics and reputation as a hunter. Throughout the house are remnants of his animal nature, but also relics from an astounding life.

We walk into the surrounding gardens ,which happened to be designed by Claude Monet. The historic home, the artistic foliage, and the beautiful weather are too much. In the middle of it all is a large bust of Clemenceau. He is prominent with an unflinching focus on the Atlantic waters. This was his home. It’s as if he never left. 

 I genuinely smile, and turn to Sinyi.
“Ok. Now you can take a photo.”