Chez les Flamands - 1
Chez les Flamands - Maigret and the Flemish shop - The Flemish shop - Georges Simenon, 1932 (Cap-d'Antibes)
For more background information on the story and Givet, visit also the Travel Log:
The story - a summary
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Maigret accepted, off duty, to help the Peeters family to elude from the awkward situation they are in.
The facts of the case as he learns them from Anna, the girl who requested his help, are the following: The Peeters family, originating from Flanders, live in the French town of Givet. They are small grocers who run a store on the border with Belgium. Bargemen come there to drink. The family is not well-liked.
All the town of Givet accuses "Les Flamands", to be responsible for the disappearance of Germaine Piedboeuf, daughter of a night-watchman. This girl had a child from Joseph Peeters, Anna's brother. Joseph is supposed to marry Marguerite, daughter of the local physician, Dr. Van de Weert. So Germaine and her child could have been an obstacle for this marriage.

Maigret's first investigations lead to nowhere. In fact, everything seems to clear the Peeters family from any blame. They are proud, honest and courageous people.
La nuit du
carrefour
La guinguette
à deux sous
The only thing that worries Maigret is the turbid character of Joseph, the idealized son. Meanwhile, the body of Germaine Piedboeuf is dredged up from the Meuse river. The skull is smashed with a hammer.
L' inspecteur
Cadavre
Les larmes
de bougie
Vente à la
bougie
La maison
du juge
Mon ami
Maigret
Maigret à
Vichy
Bruno Cremer as Maigret and Alexandra Vandernoot as Anna In in the French TV-series
l'Affaire
Saint-Fiacre
A bargeman, a man with a shady reputation and questionable habits, claims to have seen the Peeters one night, throwing a weighty object in the Meuse. But during a visit in his boat, Maigret discovers the hammer that was used for the crime and the coat of the victim.
L'Auberge aux
noyés
Le notaire de
Châteauneuf
Although the case seems to be resolved, Maigret does not stop his investigation.
More and more he gets intrigued by the behavior of Anna, who always keeps the same impassible and self-controlled attitude.
The impetuous escape of the bargeman, clearly intended to derive attention, makes it obvious to Maigret that Anna is the murderer.
Her almost incestuous admiration for her brother made her decide to dispose of the girl, so that her brother would not carry out his plan to commit suicide when ever he had to marry Germaine.
M.Gallet,
décédé
Le charretier de
"La Providence"
Chez les
Flamands" - 1
Chez les
Flamands" - 2
Cover and first page of the 1997 Claude Lefranc edition of a comic on Maigret chez les Flamands.

Click on the picture to see a lager image
Surprisingly, Maigret decides not to arrest Anna. Suspicions will continue to weigh on the escaped bargeman who disappeared without a trace and is not likely to be tracked down.
As for Anna, she will leave Givet and her family lastingly to begin a new life in Paris. (1)
Bruno Cremer as Maigret and Pierre Dherte as Joseph in the French TV-series Margaret Tyzack as Anna and Rupert Davis as Maigret in the 1963 BBC TV-series
Analysis of the locality
Givet is a small town (8.000 inh.) in the Ardennes department (08) at about 300 km (186 mi) north-east of Paris. It is situated right on the border with Belgium. The Ardennes are not only a French administrative region but also a beautiful wooded and hilly area covering a part of the south of Belgium and the north of France.
The Meuse river divides the town in two parts. The story is set on the left bank of the river where also the city-center is to be found. There is a bridge connecting the town-center with the right bank of the Meuse.
For more information on the localities go to the Travel Log.
The Flemish shop
"It was rather peculiar to look, from the city, or better from the bridge that constituted the central point of Givet, in the direction of the Flemish house. One found oneself in a French city. Small streets. Bars filled with devotees of billiards or dominos. The odor of anise aperitifs and familiarity all around. Then this stretch of river. The customs building. And finally, all at the end of the scenery, the house of the Flemish family."
"It was necessary to speak at the top of your voice because of the din of the wind. Givet, on five hundred meters, was only a cluster of lights." (2)
According to this description in the novel the house and shop of the Peeters family was to be found at 500 meters from the town-center.
This is not possible.
While walking with Maigret from the train station to her home, Anna, the oldest daughter of the Flemish family, explains to the commissioner which buildings they go by.
"A endless, very broad, quay, with every twenty meters the mooring-posts for the barges. Some warehouses. A low building with a flag rising above it.
- The French customs... Our house is further on, near to the Belgian customs... "
"The home of "the Flemish" was distinguishable. It was a rather important construction, at the edge of the river, at the place where the boats were most numerous. No other houses in the immediate vicinity. The only building in sight, on about a hundred meters, was the Belgian customs building" (2)
So, the Flemish shop must be situated in between the French customs building and the Belgian customs post a 100 meters away from the house.
In the novel it looks as if the town-center and the Flemish shop are not more than 500 meters apart. The Belgian border actually is at 3,7 km (2.3 mi) from the bridge in the town-center.
Probably Simenon reduced the real distance to make it possible for Maigret to cover the way in between the bridge and the shop by foot.
On the actual spot there is a house that fits with the story. At present it is a private home but in past times it has been a café, the "Café Français".
Simenon stayed in Givet in 1930, the novel was written in 1932. In this story he consistently changed all names of localities. The Café Français became the Flemish shop.
The Café Français is depicted on an old postcard. The prospect of the house didn't change very much, only a window on the 1st floor (2nd floor - US) was widened.
The Flemish shop or actually The Café Français on an old postcard
The same building in September 2003
The Flemish shop with in the background (behind the tree) the former Belgian customs building The Meuse river in front of the Flemish shop, in the distance GIvet at 3.7 km
Go to: Chez les Flamands - 2
Images
From top to bottom:
[- Composition of a drawing of Maigret's silhouette from the cover of: Georges Simenon, "Maigret hesite", Presses de la Cite, Paris and map on http://www.1bis.com/1bis/. Design G. de Croock.]
- Photo from the TF1 TV-series "Maigret chez les Flamands" by Serge Leroy - Bruno Cremer and Alexandra Vandernoot.
- Photo from the TF1 TV-series "Maigret chez les Flamands" by Serge Leroy - Bruno Cremer and Alexandra Vandernoot.
- à Claude Lefrancq Editeur - 1997, on: http://www.bedetheque.com/index.php?S=1801
maigretcouv03: Scénario: Odile Reynaud, Dessin: Frank Brichau, Edition: Claude Lefran - Cover
- Claude Lefrancq Editeur - 1997, on: http://www.bedetheque.com/index.php?S=1801
maigretcouv03: Scénario: Odile Reynaud, Dessin: Frank Brichau, Edition: Claude Lefran - First page
- Photo from the TF1 TV-series "Maigret chez les Flamands" by Serge Leroy - Bruno Cremer and Pierre Dhert
.http://www.maigret.de (BBC 1963, By Eric Tayler, Maigret: Rupert Davis. (anna Peeters: Margaret Tyzack)
- Map by:Route 66, Route Europa 2000, Copyright Route 66 Geographic Information Systems B.V., Ede (NL). Adaptation by G. De Croock.
- - Map by:Route 66, Route Europa 2000, Copyright Route 66 Geographic Information Systems B.V., Ede (NL). Adaptation by G. De Croock.
- Old postcard Givet - Café Français
- The Café Français today - Photo G. de Croock
- The position of the Flemish shop - Photo G. de Croock
- The Meuse in front of the Café Français - Photo: G. de Croock
Notes
(1) Translation and compilation from: Maurice Piron, L'Univers de Simenon, Presses de la Cité, Paris, 1983, p.283. Translation of excerpt: G. de Croock.
(2) Georges Simenon, Chez les Flamands, 1932. Excerpts translated in English by G.de Croock out of the 1978 edition Pocket, Paris.

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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