Maigret’s strange wanderings –
Place Dauphine and the Brasserie Dauphine
by Murielle Wenger
On rereading the beginning of La colère de Maigret [COL], it seemed to me that Maigret was making a strange detour to get from his office to the Brasserie Dauphine… a new little Simenon mystery to clear up…
In the first paragraph of Chapter 1 we’re told that Maigret, after having passed under "the perpetually cool archway, and through the gate flanked by two uniformed policemen", looked first "towards the courtyard, then towards the Place Dauphine, and then back towards the courtyard." The Chief Inspector was in fact hoping that some colleague might come by, which would give him a pretext for taking an apéritif at the Brasserie Dauphine. A little further along we’re told, "Normally he would have had to turn left along the Quai, towards the Pont Saint-Michel".
Up to this point, nothing strange, and, if we look at the map, we see that if Maigret had left the PJ, he would indeed have had to turn left to go towards the bridge.
However, since no one happened along, what did Maigret do? "With a slight shrug of his shoulders, he turned right instead and walked into the Place Dauphine, cutting across it diagonally. He had suddenly felt an urge, on leaving the office, to go to the Brasserie Dauphine and… to treat himself to an apéritif." And that’s just what he did…
But if we understand that he turned to the right, we have to wonder why he crossed the Place Dauphine diagonally… Looking at the location of the Brasserie on the map, why would he have passed by the Place? It would seem more logical for Maigret to simply continue down the Rue de Harlay, since the restaurant was located at the end of it…
The only hypothesis I can come up with to explain this little mystery is that by “Place Dauphine”, Simenon meant all the space in front of the stairway of the Palais de Justice, including therefore all that’s found of the Rue de Harlay on the right on our map… What do you think?
And since we’re at the Brasserie Dauphine and the Palais de Justice, I’ve just taken a look at the new Pidax coffret of the Rupert Davies series (and by the way, our secretive and modest Berthold, when he announced the release of the new coffret, "forgot" to tell us that he was the author of the very fine text featured in the accompanying booklet…) in the episode Maigret vor dem Schwurgericht (Raise your right hand), whose outside scenes were partially shot in Paris, in particular there’s a scene where we see Maigret leaving the Palais de Justice with Lucas, just after the end of Meurant’s trial:
And then we see Meurant and his wife descending the stairway:
The shot is taken so that we can see the corner of the Rue de Harlay, and what is clearly the restaurant Aux trois Marches (red arrow).
A little further into the scene, Ginette Meurant and her husband leave by taxi, and Maigret tells Lucas to follow them. We then see Lucas waiting for another taxi, and once more, clearly, the restaurant:
Between these we get a view of the entire corner:
And if we compare that image (the film was made around 1960) with an image made today (via Google street view since I don’t have my own photo), we can see how much things have changed, and how much the building that housed the restaurant itself has undergone modification:
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get exactly the same angle, but I wonder if the building we can see in the background of the photo from the episode still exists… in the picture it looks as if it’s on the other side of the Seine, but if we compare it with today’s photo, it doesn’t seem to be as large… Can our Parisian friend Jérôme possibly take us a photo at the proper angle, so that we can make a better comparison?
translation: S. Trussel
Honolulu, February 12, 2016