La nuit du carrefour - 2
The home-triangle
From the description on the previous page it is assumed that the situation is as follows:
Coming from the North, Paris / Arpajon, the filling station with the workshop is on the right hand side of the road, on the North side of the crossing. The Three Widows House is also on the right side but to the South of the crossing. Emile Michonet's house is right across the filling station.
Why is this so?
Coming out of the Andersen's house (Three Widows House) Maigret stands talking with Inspector Lucas. They are looking at the crossing.

"On the right side of the road, opposite of the filling station, runs the road to Avrainville"

This shows in any case that the filling station is on the West side of the road and because Michonet's house lies opposite of the filling station this must be on the East side of the road.
It also demonstrates that the Three Widows House is on the South edge of the crossroads, but why on the West side of the road, the same side as the filling station?
When he is in the house on the first floor, in Andersen's sister's room, Maigret opens the window to breathe some fresh air and he looks out over the road.

"At the Michonnet's only one window was illuminated, the window on the first floor. Still the silhouette of the insurance agent in his arm chair was thrown on the light yellow curtains, like a Chinese shade."

This means that Maigret can see the front of Michonnet's house from the Three Widows House, therefore it must be on the opposite side of the road.

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La nuit du
carrefour - 1
The Pursuit
La nuit du
carrefour - 2
An other excerpt confirms the hypothesis and adds more information about the specific position of the buildings.
The first night of Maigret's presence at the crossroads, the wife of the murdered diamond trader Goldberg, is also shot and killed, right in front of the Tavern in Avrainville.

"Then Maigret turned in on the road to Avrainville. When they arrived at the tavern....
La guinguette
à deux sous
L' inspecteur
Cadavre
Les larmes
de bougie
Vente à la
bougie
La maison
du juge
..- I think I hear a car coming....
Finally the car came closer....
Maigret and Lucas, standing in front of the tavern, were shone upon by the headlights of the car....
A lake in a silk stocking. A foot touching the ground. Then something dark came forward, probably a fur coat. Maigret wanted to advance towards the visitor.
On that moment resounded a loud crack, the women tumbled face down to the ground...."

This quotation justifies that the positions were as follows:
The car coming from Paris on the main road drives in towards Avrainville. Maigret and Lucas standing in front of the hotel are looking at the car and are shone upon by the headlights. This means the policemen are directed towards the West, towards the crossing. More so when Maigret wants to approach the women.
Mon ami
Maigret
Maigret à
Vichy
l'Affaire
Saint-Fiacre
L'Auberge aux
noyés
Le notaire de
Châteauneuf
M.Gallet, décédé
Le charretier de
"La Providence"
"The gun shot came from the fields on the right side of the road. The Chief-Inspector rushed as fast as he could in that direction"

The right side of the road being the North side.
Maigret pursues the perpetrator across the muddy fields, without being able to identify or arrest him.
By daylight, the next day, Maigret tracks the footmarks of the nightly pursuit on the smutty land, starting in Avrainville and finishing on the main road (see gray dotted line on sketch of the situation: La nuit du carrefour - 1).
Chez les
Flamands
Conclusion....
When he arrives on the border side of the main road:

"He saw Oscar standing in the doorway of his workshop....
- Waken up already, Chief-Inspector?.... He shouted over the road.
On that same moment a car stopped in between the filling station and Maigret. It was the old car of Andersen....
- I wouldn't have driven to Paris without your permission...."

The course of events and the descriptions in the novel implicate that the site of action in this Maigret novel is surely enough situated as presented on the sketch of the situation.

1. The filling station lies on the Northwest side of the crossing.
2. The house of Emile Michonnet opposite to that, on the Northeast side.
3. The Three Widows House of Carl Andersen and his sister on the Southwest side of the crossroads.
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Images from the film "La nuit du carrefour" with Jean Renoir in the role of Maigret. Renoir also directed this movie, 1932.
Revision after a visit on site
September 2003 Added: March 2004
Of the crossroad as it looked in 1931 nothing is left.
The N20 is a four-lane expressway. The D26 to Avrainville, is of course modernized, but still a quiet road. This side road does not really cross the N20 anymore, it goes above it over a bridge. At both ends of the bridge are the access and exit roads of the N20. The site became a traffic junction instead of a crossroad.
There is no trace either of the houses that were assumed to be there.
On the spot where the garage of Oscar should be a business is to be found now where excavators can be sold and hired out. Where the house of Michonnet should be truckers can now find a parking place. And in the place where the House of the three widows should be nothing at all is to be found, except for some shrubs that screen the neighboring fields from the road.
Dove tower
However, inquiries show that beyond the crossing in the direction of Etampes there used to be ruins of a columbary, a typical French dove tower, like it was built next to manor houses from the 16th up to the 18th century. The presence of such a dove tower indicates that once there must have been a rather important country house or manor. The photos show examples of some of these distinctive dove towers that were usually erected next to the mansions of wealthy families.
Keeping homing pigeons was a very popular pass-time of the affluent classes and the nobility. The pigeons provided an important means of communication in former times, especially in warfare.
Dove tower 16th century
Even a meeting with the clerk of the municipality of Avrainville specialized in the history of the village, could not bring to light if there had ever been a garage or a filling station at the crossroads, nor if there was a house on the site where Michonnet's house should be.
For more information on the surroundings of the crossroad, visit the Travel Log at:
Arpajon / Avrainville
Dove tower 18th century
Images
From top to bottom:
- Postcard of Avrainville, 91 - Essonne, France, (around 1910), Mediasys - Images de la France d'autrefois.
- Cover of Georges Simenon, "Maigret at the crossroad", Penguin Books 2'6, #C2028, 1963. From: S.Trussel's Simenon's Maigret website.
- Covers of Georges Simenon, "Maigret at the crossroads", Pinguin Books Maigret "Collections", #6652, 1983 and Pinguin Classic Crime, #0076, 1987. From: S.Trussel's Simenon's Maigret website.
- Images from the film "La nuit du carrefour", Maigret: Jean Renoir, 1932. Website of the University of Nancy.
- Composite crossroad: Center map: http://www9.mappy.com , é 2003 Mappy, Photos: G. De Croock
- Dove tower 16th century
- Dove tower 18th century
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La nuit du carrefour - 1, - 2
La guinguette à deux sous - 1, - 2
L' inspecteur Cadavre - 1, - 2, - 3
Les larmes de bougie - 1, - 2
Vente à la bougie - 1, - 2
La maison du juge - 1, - 2, - 3
Mon ami Maigret - 1, - 2, - 3
Maigret à Vichy - 1, - 2
l'Affaire Saint-Fiacre - 1, - 2
l'Auberge aux Noyés - 1, - 2
Le notaire de Chéteauneuf - 1, - 2
M.Gallet, décédé - 1, - 2, - 3
Le charretier de "La Providence" - 1, - 2
Chez les Flamands - 1, - 2