Celebrities in Switzerland: Elisee Reclus
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Reclus, Elisee (1830 - 1907) France / Scientist / VD

Geographer Elisée Reclus lived over over 22 years in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva. Born in 1830, he initially went to the Protestant College in Montauban before studying geography under Carl Ritter in Berlin. He identified with with the Republicans during the Revolution of 1848. Forced to leave France due to his opposition to the coup d'Etat of December 2, 1851, he would not return for another six years. Won over by the anarchist theses put forth by Bakunin, whom he met in 1865, he became a theorist of anarchism.

Elisée Reclus was once again banished due to his participation in the 1870 Siege and Commune of Paris and he exiled in Switzerland. He wrote for the journal Le Révolté, published by Russian anarchist Kropotkin, and ran the newspaper L'Etendard révolutionnaire. Elisée Reclus was not blind to the beauty of Lake Geneva: The splendor of the lake and the circle of mountains reflected in it, (...) a climate milder than in neighboring countries, have made this sheltered corner of Switzerland a traveler's favorite. (...) With their cosmopolitan population, Montreux and Vevey belong to the entire human race.

As a consequence, he had a villa built in Clarens, which he called Le Rivage. He lived in this house on the shores of Lake Geneva from 1879 to 1892. There he worked on his Nouvelle géographie universelle, which would crown him the father of modern geography. His home was warm and inviting and he often hosted his anarchist friends. In 1892, the geographer and anarchist left Clarens for Brussels, where he taught at the university.

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