Travel log Maigret's journeys in France
Châteauneuf-sur-Loire - 2
Le notaire de Châteauneuf
Paray-le-Frésil - Châteauneuf-sur-Loire - Sancerre - Arpajon / Avrainville - Dizy - Givet - Meung-sur-Loire - Ingrannes - Poissy/Orgeval - Nemours/Glandelles - St.-Fargeau - Le-Coudray-Montceaux - Morsang-sur-Seine - Vichy - Jeumont
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The former generations
After I bid farewell to Olivier Goussard who turned out to be a most amiable man, I take some photographs of the house and I try to call his father to set an appointment.
But still Jean Goussard is not at home. I think I'd better forget my time-scheme!

At last, that night after dinner, I succeed in reaching the former notary, although, one is a notary 'for life', so I still have to address this older gentleman with "maître".
We set the meeting at 10.00 am. the next morning. He lives on the edge of the Loire and when I ask him for his address he starts to give me very complicated directions in which he talks about upstream and downstream, in the mean time explaining the origin of the archaic French words for those notions, the bridge is involved and a square with trees. I haven't the faintest idea where I will find his house. When I ask him if it wouldn't be simpler just giving me the address, he answers: "bah.. mais c'est compliqué, vous savez !" (But that is intricate, you know!).
But, we find our way out of this and the next morning, without any problem I locate his home. When I arrive a young couple is leaving. Apparently Jean Goussard is still a busy man.
Me Jean Goussard - the son
I'm welcomed by a tall, healthy looking and energetic 80-year old man. He invites me in his study and while clearing his desk of some dossiers and papers, he explains that he still does some voluntary work for the judicial courts by supporting and supervising underprivileged people who have financial problems.
His son Olivier took over the study 12 years ago but Jean Goussard is still active and full of life. He tells me that the next morning he will accompany a group of nuns of the Dominican order of Châteauneuf on a walking trip in the Fôret d'Orléans, in search of sites where in the middle ages hermits had their recluse. He explains that those sites are very difficult to find because the shelters were built using only natural materials, that of course are long since gone. When I ask him how he knows where those sites are, he proudly admits that he himself found them after elaborate research in medieval documents. This has nothing to do with Simenon nor Maigret, but it is interesting and it's a pleasure to see this older man relish.
The actor Jean Richard (left) and Me Jean Goussard (right) during the shooting of the film "Le notaire de Châteauneuf".
As the genuine jurist he is, he prepared my visit and the dossier is already in front of him. All the correspondence of his father with Simenon is there. A real treasure! He reads out loud the letters to me, leaving out the amounts of money that are mentioned. He's a notary, isn't he?
His father, Olivier Goussard sr., came in contact with Simenon because of the property Simenon wanted to acquire in Seichebrière in 1934. The plan to build a kind of Norwegian log cabin on the grounds was never executed and Simenon resold the land in 1938.
From the correspondence one can derive that the men liked and trusted each other. In every letter Simenon emphasizes that Olivier Goussard must do what he sees fit. He gives him "carte blanche".
Jean Goussard must have been 11 or 12 y.o. when his father came in contact with Simenon. He never met him. When I say this seems a little odd to me, he explains that Simenon wasn't exactly a friend of the family. His father called him: "un client priviligé" (a privileged client). He visited his father in his study, liked to settle formal business swiftly after which the two men conversed, have a drink and a cigar and enjoyed each other company.
Excerpts of the notarial deed of the purchase of "Le Bois Bézard" by Simenon
Click on the thumbs to see a lager image
First and last page of the noterial deed of the purchase of "Le Bois Bézard" near Séichebrieres by Simenon and the cadastral plan of the property. On the first page the description of the buildings on the grounds and on the last page the sellers and Goussard's and Simenon's signature. On the photo the apparatus that was used in that period by the notary to imprint the pages of the notarial deed with a relief seal to authenticate the documents.
Me Olivier Goussard sr. - the notary of Châteauneuf
Olivier Goussard sr. was, according to his son, a very well read and cultivated gentleman with a very broad sphere of interest and awareness.
He was born in 1888 as one of two sons of a farmer. His brother took over the farm in 1913 and Olivier got a job as a clerk with the notary of Châteauneuf of that time, Me Coucheau. Goussard's brother perished in World War I, in 1914 on the battlefields of the Marne and the parental farm was sold. Me Coucheau who, also because of the war, had no successor to take over the study, chose Olivier Goussard to be his successor.
This way, by a concurrence of tragic circumstances, a farmer's son became a notary.

According to Jean Goussard his father was a nice man. Straightforward and primarily inspired by humanistic principles. When I ask him if I can give him my view on the personality of Me Motte, the notary from the story, and if he will then compare this with his father's personality, to see if Simenon did adopt his observation of Olivier Goussard to create the character of Me Motte, he agrees. I start reading my notes to him:
"Me Motte was a man who smiled easily, someone with a certain "joie de vivre" (someone who can enjoy life), someone who tried very hard to make his kindred and himself happy and therefore, maybe sometimes, had a propensity to spoil his children a little bit. A man with a broad vision and, for his time, progressive ideas ."
While I'm reading my notes Jean Goussard starts smiling and he is visibly moved. When I'm finished reading, I look at him and he says: "That's my father!"
No ivory miniatures
However important the similarity between the story-character and the real person may have been, Olivier Goussard sr. was no collector of ivory miniatures. Like his son Jean, he was always reading, studying, engrossed in his books and sorting out things he was interested in.

When I ask about his father's response when the story was published, Jean Goussard explains that Simenon never told Me Goussard in advance that he would use him and his surroundings as a source of inspiration for a character in a story. When he read the story his reaction was rather laconic and of course he smiled and was amused. "Furthermore he didn't pay much attention to it. A detective-story was not something that would occupy my father. What I remember is that my mother, who never read something like that, was keen to read the story."
Olivier Goussard sr. deceased in 1976.
When I prepare to conclude the encounter with this friendly and dignified gentleman I see that Jean Goussard not only was fully prepared for this meeting but that he also arranged for a dossier that he wants to give me. He made copies of the first issue of the story in the periodical "Police-Film, Police-Roman", he gives me an original photograph of his father. He made copies of the notarial deed concerning the acquisition of "Le Bois Bézard" by Simenon, a copy of a picture of himself with Jean Richard during the shooting of the film, etc...

I leave Jean Goussard's home contented and gratified and enhanced with memorable comprehension of an other Maigret story.
Paray-le-Frésil - Châteauneuf-sur-Loire - Sancerre - Arpajon / Avrainville - Dizy - Givet - Meung-sur-Loire - Ingrannes - Poissy/Orgeval - Nemours/Glandelles - St.-Fargeau - Le-Coudray-Montceaux - Morsang-sur-Seine - Vichy - Jeumont
Home Page - summary of works - Travel log (main page)