Introduction (pages 7 to 14):
This outlines Simenon's interest in Paris from the age of nineteen and the various times that he lived in, or visited, the French capital. Simenon moved from Liège to Paris in December 1922, living there, except for a few visits elsewhere, with his first wife Tigy, until the spring of 1929. They returned at the end of the summer of 1936 to live in Neuilly-sur-Seine, which borders on the seventeenth arrondissement, until the spring of 1938. After that there were only short stays or visits, as at the end of the Second World War in 1945, and again in 1952 when he visited parts of Europe from his home in the United States.
Michel Lemoine also mentions his reference sources, which are principally from Simenon's own work, as well as acknowledging other experts for their help.
The Main Text (pages 15 to 252):
Michel Lemoine has taken the City of Paris, as far as its boundary, as his area of research. For administrative purposes, Paris is divided up into 20 arrondissements (corresponding to boroughs in some cities) and each of these is again divided into 4 quartiers (districts). With thorough and meticulous attention to detail, Michel Lemoine has researched all the works of Georges Simenon that have been set, wholly or partly, within the boundary of Paris. This amounts to some 250 works, Maigret and non-Maigret novels and short stories, as well as other appropriate items written under pseudonyms, autobiography and articles.
In reality, each arrondissement has a name, as have each of the quartiers. Using the number and name of each arrondissement as a kind of chapter heading, Michel Lemoine then uses its 4 quartiers as subheadings. Under each quartier there are listed the various streets, boulevards, squares etc. that are within it, and it is under each of these locations that Michel Lemoine enters the Simenon references, as in the following example:
|Main Heading: ||1er ARRONDISSEMENT: LE LOUVRE|
|Sub Heading: ||1er : quartier Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois|
|Locations: ||Jardin des Tuileries Les " jardins verts des Tuileries" 1, "le majestueux jardin" 2, "la paix repostante des Tuileries" 3, "l'harmonieux spectacle des Tuileries" 4, etc. etc.
|(Each Simenon reference is numbered, with the work identified in the Notes section at the back of the book).
Rue de Rivoli Simenon references
Place du Louvre Simenon references
Place du Châtelet Simenon references
Using this format, all 20 arrondissements are covered in numerical order, together with the 80 quartiers.
At the beginning of each chapter there is a plan of the appropriate arrondissement using the work of A.Dauzat & F.Bournon published in Paris in 1925 by the Librairie Larousse and entitled Paris et ses environs.
The reason for using a 1925 map of Paris is that Simenon lived in that city mainly in the 1920s and then in the later 1930s. During that time he knew many parts of the city very well and up to 1939 Paris changed little. Following the Second World War, many names of thoroughfares were changed. Many metro stations were closed during the Occupation of Paris (June 1940 to August 1944) and then only gradually reopened after the war, with some names changed and a few remaining closed permanently. After 1938 Simenon only returned to Paris for short visits and as Michel Lemoine states in his Introduction (page 9) '...when Simenon moved away from Paris in 1938, he took along with him, in the prodigious store of his memory, the essential of what the city brought him, a large supply of facts, experiences, sensations, impressions and images which will continue to sustain all his fiction just as if he hadn't ceased extracting from this vast reservoir of memories since he began to write. "I have never written about places that I don't know", declares the novelist, so that on this point one willingly believes him.'
Not that Simenon only relied on his memory, as he always had by him his reference sources his maps, his telephone directories (for names of characters), his medical books and anything else that would help him.
What is remarkable is that he was able to set certain novels and short stories so convincingly in locations where he had not set foot for some years, while he was living and writing them in a very different environment. For example, one of the longer short stories entitled "A Matter of Life and Death" (Sept Petites Croix dans un Carnet), set at Christmas in Paris, was written in April at Carmel-by-the-Sea in California, whilst the novels "Maigret in Montmartre / Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper" (Maigret au "Picratt's") and "Maigret and the Headless Corpse" (Maigret et le Corps Sans Tête), were written in 1950 and 1955, respectively, at Lakeville, Connecticut.
Notes (pages 253 to 297):
As indicated above, a number follows all Simenon references, which are listed in this section under the appropriate quartier. Against each number is the title of the work from which the reference is taken. For all the novels and many of the short stories published under the author's own name, Michel Lemoine has used the 72 volume "Oeuvres Completes" (Complete Works), edited by Gilbert Sigaux, and published in Switzerland by Éditions Rencontre, 1967-1973. Other works are to be found in the 27 volume "Tout Simenon" (All Simenon) published in Paris by Presses de la Cité, 1988-1993, or certain first editions or reprints. Whatever the source, the edition, volume (where appropriate) and page number is given. Details of these sources are indicated in the Introduction.
Index of Characters (pages 298 to 305):
This is an alphabetical list of fictional characters, as well as real people, referred to in The Main Text and the Introduction, each one followed by a page reference. The names of the real people are indicated in bold type.
Index of Places (pages 305 to 314):
This list is divided up into Two Parts. The First Part lists the thoroughfares and quartiers, and the Second Part the institutions, establishments and other buildings.
Index of works (pages 315 to 319):
The titles of the author's works are listed in alphabetical order. The novels and short stories written under the author's own name are in normal type, the short stories being underlined. Those works written under pseudonym are in italics with the short stories underlined, whilst works of autobiography and articles are in bold type, the latter in italics.
Illustrations are confined to the reproduction of eight French book covers, all Maigret texts, seven of them in black and white, throughout the book. The eighth, the first edition dust jacket of the short story collection entitled "le commissaire Maigret et I'inspecteur malchanceux" is reproduced on the front cover of the book in colour.
This is a reference book that might appeal more to the specialist reader and researcher of the works of Simenon as a whole than to the reader of specific items, but certain factors emerge that might be of general interest.
The number of locations used varies from one arrondissement to another, but the one most used by the author is the 8th arrondissement: L'Élyseé. This includes such thoroughfares as the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré that figure prominently in the reference sources. The next two are the 1st arrondissement: Le Louvre and 9th : L'Opéra. The former includes the Quai des Orfèvres, the Palais de Justice, the Rue de Rivoli and Les Halles (the then Central Market before it was moved in 1969), whilst the latter has the Pigalle area south of the Boulevards Clichy and Rochechouart, stretching to the Grands Boulevards.
There is a considerable drop in the number of locations used for the next two, the 4th arrondissement: L'Hôtel de Ville, which includes the Île Saint Louis, the Place des Vosges and the area known as the Marais, and the 18th arrondissement: La Butte Montmartre, which as the name indicates covers much of the Montmartre area, including both sides of the hill.
In these five arrondissement, the Maigret references range from about 35% of the whole in the 8th arrondissement, to about 55% in the 18th, but as much as 80% for the 1st, which does include the Quai des Orfèvres.