Maigret on the Seine: bridges and quais
In homage to Michel Lemoine
by Murielle Wenger
In the works of Simenon, and particularly in the Maigrets, it could be said that the city of Paris has acquired the status of an actual character. The novelist understood, in evoking the names of the Parisian streets, how to build a personal geography of the city in a way so evocative that the reader could create his own representation of the capital. While we have previously discussed this Maigret geography, that picture still lacks, among other things, a discussion of the bridges and quais, since they are truly a part of this geography, the importance of the Seine and fluvial images for Maigret being well known…
This new study is dedicated to the memory of Michel Lemoine, in a modest and respectful homage, and with the immense regret that we will no longer be able look forward to his newest commentaries…
Which bridges and quais are most often evoked in the Maigret saga, how are they presented by the novelist, and what is their importance in the plots of the novels? These are the questions this study will attempt to answer. To carry out this inventory, we've obviously relied on the essential work of Michel Lemoine, Paris chez Simenon, allowing us to refine our results, complete our research, and not only to find certain information that would have otherwise eluded us, but also to discover things he himself hadn't reported, and which we can only regret not being able to discuss with him…
For our statistical inventory, we'll proceed as follows. Rather than count the number of mentions of each of the bridges and quais, we've taken the number of novels in which each of them appears at least once. The great majority of these mentions are "nominal", that is, the bridges and quais are noted by name. Sometimes however, though rarely, when the text only contains the words "bridge" or "quai", the specific one can be determined by context. Once more we acknowledge the assistance of the work of Michel Lemoine in identifying some of these mentions. Finally, we note that our inventory is limited to the 20 arrondissements of Paris, ignoring surrounding areas.
- "Just across the bridge…"
To leave for Suresnes
Or even for Charenton,
All along the river Seine
You go under the bridges.
During the day, following its course,
All Paris passes by boat...
(beginning of the song,
Sous les ponts de Paris
[Under the bridges of Paris])
The bridge is, by definition, a place of passage, a theme dear to Simenon. In Paris, the bridges serve to cross the Seine, to go from one bank to the other, but in the Maigrets, bridges also have other roles... They are the scenery that surrounds the barges, moored nearby, or tirelessly led by tugs, whose whistles form the soundtrack entering by the wide-open windows of Maigret's office... The bridges are also the refuge of clochards, a place to watch the fishermen (particularly the one at Pont Saint-Michel evoked in Ch. 8 of La patience de Maigret [PAT]), but also a means for setting the action of a novel at a precise Paris location.
We have catalogued 16 different bridges in the texts, (with the number of novels in which they appear in parentheses)... Pont Saint-Michel (34), Pont-Neuf (21), Pont d'Austerlitz (10), Pont Marie (5), Pont-au-Change (3), Pont Saint-Louis (3); several bridges appearing in two novels, Pont Louis-Philippe, Pont des Arts, Pont Mirabeau, Pont National; and lastly bridges mentioned in just one novel, Pont de Bercy, Pont de Sully, Pont de la Tournelle, Pont de la Concorde, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, and Pont de Grenelle.
- Pont Saint-Michel
Readers familiar with the Maigrets will certainly not be surprised to find that this is the most frequently mentioned bridge, for they'll know that this is the view on which the Chief Inspector casts his eyes from his office. It's from its appearance and that of the Seine that he often deduces the weather, but he also finds pleasure in regarding the barges passing under its arches. And it's a place of passage for Maigret himself, when he arrives at or leaves his office, or goes to crime scenes on the other bank of the Seine. We note that while it's most often cited by name, sometimes simply the word "bridge" will do, especially when the author is speaking of the scene from Maigret's window. And since it was established from the beginning that the Chief Inspector has a view of the bridge from his office, ("From the window, he could see an arm of the Seine, the Place Saint-Michel, and a floating wash-house, all under a blue haze through which the gas lamps twinkled like stars as they lit up one by one," at the beginning of Pietr le Letton [LET]), it becomes almost superfluous to mention it by name...
The first appearance of the bridge in the saga occurs in La nuit du carrefour [NUI], a little after the opening sentence evoking the "dairy-shops in the Place Saint-Michel". Curiously, it's not the Chief Inspector himself, but Carl Andersen who casts the first glance toward the scene of the bridge... "From where he stood, he could see the movement in the street, the trams and buses crossing the bridge". We encounter the bridge again in Cécile est morte [CEC], where it serves simply as a place of passage... it's there that Maigret awaits the tram which will take him to Bourg-la-Reine. In Signé Picpus [SIG], the bridge becomes once more an element of the scenery, with its "gaudy swarm". And it's always in these two roles that we'll encounter it in other novels, either as a place of passage, or an element of the scene.
As a place of passage, in Maigret et son mort [MOR], when Janvier takes the bridge to get to the bistro Little Albert had phoned from; in L'amie de Madame Maigret [MME], when Maigret walks towards the bridge to take a taxi to the Hotel Beauséjour; in Maigret et la Grande Perche [GRA], when Maigret watches Mme Serre, who had come to visit him in his office, "walking with little steps, out in the sunshine, towards Pont Saint-Michel"; in Maigret et l'homme du banc [BAN], when Albert Jorisse gets arrested by a policeman on the bridge; in Les scrupules de Maigret [SCR], when Jenny waits for Marton to leave Maigret's office; in Maigret aux Assises [ASS], it's Gaston Meurant who hesitates between crossing the bridge and going into the PJ; in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret [ENF], it's the Chief Inspector who crosses the bridge to walk to the Boulevard Saint-Germain to the offices of François Paré; and in La folle de Maigret [FOL], he and Lapointe cross the bridge to get to Angèle Louette's apartment on the Rue Saint-André-des-Arts.
As an element of the scene, in the guise of a picture postcard "view of the Seine", as in La première enquête de Maigret [PRE], when Maigret, then the young Chief Inspector's Secretary, is received by Xavier Guichard, and he looks through the windows "open on the Seine. The tugs, dragging their strings of barges, sounding their sirens before passing under the bridge and lowering their stacks. The trams, buses, carriages, and taxis, passing ceaselessly on the Pont Saint-Michel, the sidewalks brightened by women in light-colored dresses." Thereafter, the formulation recurs throughout the novels like a refrain, with hardly any variation. And so in Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM], the various department heads, meeting for Report with the Chief of the PJ, "were standing, sometimes at the window, watching the buses and taxis passing on the Pont Saint-Michel". We find the same theme in Maigret à l'école [ECO], where Maigret's colleagues, once again in the Chief's office, savor "this light which bathed the city and made every street corner, the facades, the roofs, the cars which passed on the Pont Saint-Michel, like paintings you wanted to hang on your wall."
In Maigret et la Grande Perche [GRA], the mention of the bridge sets the scene for a night of interrogation... "The city was no longer noisy. From time to time a taxi crossed the Pont Saint-Michel." In Le revolver de Maigret [REV], in contrast, it's a scene of early morning... "the tug that passed earlier came back upstream, sounding its whistle before going under the bridge, followed by seven barges. The sky was pink, and you could see luminous egrets at the corners of certain roofs."
In Maigret se trompe [TRO], it's a scene both "meteorological" and "cinematographic"... "It was still gray, the river an ugly color, the people walking more quickly than yesterday, especially when crossing the Pont Saint-Michel swept by the wind, the men raising their arms to hold down their hats, the women lowering them to hold down their skirts." A similar image in Maigret et la jeune morte [JEU], "the rain fell diagonally, pattering on the windowsill, while on the Pont Saint-Michel, people were suddenly walking more quickly, like in the old silent films, women holding down their skirts." In Un échec de Maigret [ECH], "A cold, damp wind had come up, causing passers-by to hold on to their hats, sticking their clothing to their bodies. Some, on the Pont Saint-Michel, walked leaning backwards, as if they were being shoved." In Maigret et le voleur paresseux [PAR], "the Pont Saint-Michel, where the north wind made passers-by lean in the same direction, all at the same angle." We can believe that Simenon tried his brush at variations, like Monet in his Rouen Cathedral series…
In Maigret tend un piège [TEN], it's an August afternoon, and the windows "let in hot air which seemed to emanate from softened asphalt, and from the Seine you expected to see steam rising, like from water on a stove. The taxis and buses on the Pont Saint-Michel moved less quickly than usual, seeming to crawl along."
Sometimes the scene is uniquely audio... "You could hear the sound of cars and buses on the Pont Saint-Michel, sometimes the siren of a tug which lowered its stack before passing under the arch." (L'ami d'enfance de Maigret [ENF]); "The windows in Maigret's office were open again to the rustling of the air outside, and the noise of the cars and buses on the Pont Saint-Michel." (Maigret et l'indicateur [IND])
And sometimes it's even a notation which serves to emphasize a pschological mood... In Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM], the Chief Inspector, while waiting to go to Judge Angelot's for the final interrogation of Paulette Lachaume, looks at "the cruel, gray Seine, the black ants swarming on the Pont Saint-Michel, dodging among the buses." In Maigret et le clochard [CLO], after the interrogation of Guillot and Hardoin, Maigret regards "dreamily, the Seine flowing beyond the trees, the boats passing, the bright spots of the women's dresses on the Pont Saint-Michel.". In La colère de Maigret [COL], at the very end of the novel, when Maigret learns of Jean-Charles Gaillard's suicide, he remains "standing, looking at the open window, the rustling of the trees, the boats gliding on the Seine, the passers-by swarming like ants on the Pont Saint-Michel."
Thoughout the publication chronology, the appearance of the bridge changes with the transformations of passing time... In Maigret et l'affaire Nahour [NAH], modern times chase away the carriages and trams, and we get an image of the urban crowd... "On the Pont Saint-Michel, a traffic jam brought movement to a halt, and three uniformed policemen were excitedly blowing of their whistles, trying to untangle the cars and buses."
Sometimes, infrequently, the setting is reversed, and it's from the bridge that Maigret regards the buildings of the PJ... "From the Pont Saint-Michel, Maigret could see the light in his own office." (L'amie de Madame Maigret [MME], on his return from Lagny); "It was past midnight. The quai was deserted, as was the Pont Saint-Michel. There were sounds in the distance, and Maigret could hear the steps of several people in the courtyard of the PJ." (Maigret s'amuse [AMU])
And since we're on this bridge, let's try to clear up a mystery found in Maigret se fâche [FAC], where "Pont de la Cité" is mentioned twice, first in Ch. 6, when Maigret, installed "in his familar place, near the open window" at the Quai des Orfèvres, sees an Amorelle et Campois tug passing "on the Seine, giving two great bursts of its siren before going under the Pont de la Cité", and a second time in Ch. 7, when Maigret returns home, and "from the Pont de la Cité, he saw a tug going up the Seine with five or six barges". As Michel Lemoine put it so well, (op.cit.), "The analogy with the novels in which Maigret contemplates so often the Pont Saint-Michel from his office at the
Quai des Orfèvres supports our interpretation", which is, that "it's certainly the Pont Saint-Michel he has renamed" as "Pont de la Cité, a bridge which doesn't exist in Paris". We recall that it's in this same novel that Simenon places the Maigrets' home, not on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, but the Place des Vosges…
A little less frequently mentioned than Pont Saint-Michel, Pont-Neuf is nonetheless a classic element in Simenon's Parisian scene...
It's sometimes a place of passage, as in L'ombre chinoise [OMB], when Maigret gets off the bus "at Pont-Neuf, from which he can see the windows of his office" (Maigret is returning from the Saint-Philippe-du-Roule district, on the right bank, where he attended Couchet's funeral, and if he could see the windows of his office, it must mean that the bus had crossed Pont-Neuf, and that Maigret had gotten off on the Quai des Grands-Augustins side, or at least at the corner of the bridge and Quai des Orfèvres); In Signé Picpus [SIG], when Maigret gets a taxi there to take him to Rue Caulaincourt near young Emma's; In Maigret et la Grande Perche [GRA], when Maigret crosses it in a police car to get to the Neuilly police station; Again in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters [LOG], the car taking Maigret to the Baron's on Rue des Batignolles, passes, on Pont-Neuf, the one in which Torrence is bringing in Cicero; In Le revolver de Maigret [REV], Maigret crosses the bridge with Lourtie, with whom he'd just had a drink at the Brasserie Dauphine, to find a taxi on the Rue de Rivoli; It's the same street Lucas and Maigret walked to, crossing the bridge, in Maigret à l'école [ECO]; It was by the Pont-Neuf that Léontine left after her first visit to the Quai des Orfèvres (La folle de Maigret [FOL]); And it was by the Pont-Neuf that Maigret returned after his visit to Nathalie in Maigret et monsieur Charles [CHA], when he stopped at the Brasserie Dauphine for a cognac.
At other times, it's a place for cafés and bistros, such as the "Tabac Henri-IV, in the middle of Pont-Neuf" (L'écluse no 1 [ECL]), where sailors congregate, or the "little bar, in front of the statue of Henri-IV, in the middle of Pont-Neuf" (Cécile est morte [CEC]), which Michel Lemoine identifies as being the same one.
Pont-Neuf can become, under Simenon's pen, like a monument symbolic of Paris, and his description takes on impressionistic hues... "A purple sun set on Paris, and the view of the Seine straddled by Pont-Neuf was daubed with red, blue, and ochre." (L'écluse no 1 [ECL]); "Pont-Neuf all pink in the sun" (Maigret [MAI]).
This bridge is also a place where suspects throw themselves into the Seine... Mascouvin in Signé Picpus [SIG] and Florentin in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret [ENF], and where the laundry barge was moored, where Fernande did her laundry (L'amie de Madame Maigret [MME]). Simenon's boat, l'Ostrogoth, was moored there as well (Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM]).
- Pont d'Austerlitz
The first mention of this bridge in the saga is found in L'écluse no 1 [ECL], in a description once again impressionistic... "Pont d'Austerlitz, whose steel structure rose like the set-piece in a fireworks display, with the architecture of Notre-Dame veiled in blue and rose beyond it." According to Michel Lemoine, and we agree with his interpretation, this description "seems to be a result of confusiing Pont d'Austerlitz and its neighboring bridge, used only by the métro." Indeed, Pont d'Austerlitz is of stone, but the Austerlitz viaduct, reserved for the passage of a subway line, is a metal bridge. The confusion can be explained by the nearness of the two bridges to each other.
This bridge can be a place of passage, as in Maigret se fâche [FAC], when the Chief Inspector, returning from his meeting with Campois, has the taxi stop in the middle of the bridge, for he wants to walk back the rest of the way home, to be alone with his thoughts.
It can be a key place in an investigation, as in Maigret et son mort [MOR], when they learn that Little Alberts friends' car broke down on the Quai Henri-IV, and Maigret says, "What's important, was that the car was turned towards the Pont d'Austerlitz." It's the clue which allows him to conjecture that Albert's home was in the southeast of Paris, which is later confirmed.
But Pont d'Austerlitz in the saga is often a place Maigret passes when he goes to the Forensic Institute, which is actually near one end of the bridge. This is the situation, for example, in Maigret et l'homme du banc [BAN], when the Chief Inspector accompanies Mme Thouret; in Maigret et la jeune morte [JEU], where Maigret goes with Janvier; and in Maigret et le corps sans tête [COR], where this time he's with Lapointe, and they're waiting outside, watching "the incessant comings and goings on the Pont d'Austerlitz".
- Pont Marie
In the saga, Pont Marie often serves as a shelter for clochards. It's there that Victor spends the night in La guinguette à deux sous [GUI], and where a clochard informs Torrence about Vivien in Maigret et l'homme tout seul [GUI]. Above all, it's where François Keller was staying (Maigret et le clochard [CLO]), and thus it's a bridge crossed many times by Maigret in that novel, since that's where Jef Van Houtte's barge was moored.
It's also a place where "vagabonds of the water" like to moor their boats, like de Greef on his Fleur d'amour (Mon ami Maigret [AMI])… or Simenon on the Ostrogoth in 1931…
And this bridge is a place of passage in Maigret et le tueur [TUE], when the Chief Inspector goes to the Batilles' house on the Île Saint-Louis.
This bridge appears fairly late in the saga, its first mention found in Maigret et le client du samedi [CLI], when the author describes the route Maigret takes to return home from his office... "The collar of his overcoat turned up, hands in his pockets, he rounded the Palais de Justice, passed under the great clock, and crossed Pont-au-Change." In other words, on leaving the PJ, Maigret turns left and takes Boulevard du Palais to get onto the bridge, which he crosses, as the text explains further on, to get to the Place du Châtelet where he gets the bus home. The second time Maigret crosses Pont-au-Change is in Maigret et le fantôme [FAN]. This time the Chief Inspector takes this bridge on his return to the PJ after having visited Norris Jonker on Avenue Junot. Here, Maigret crosses the bridge, regarding "the familiar silhouette of the old Palais de Justice". The third mention, in La patience de Maigret [PAT], evokes a fisherman near Pont-au-Change, that Maigret sees as he's getting off the bus at Place du Châtelet, in the opposite direction from the time in Maigret et le client du samedi [CLI], since Maigret has just left his home in the morning, on an old platform bus…
- Pont Saint-Louis
Actually, this bridge, which connects Île de la Cité with Île Saint-Louis, is never mentioned by name in the Maigrets, but is only called "the bridge" when it appears in three novels: In Maigret et le corps sans tête [COR], when Maigret goes to Lucette Calas's house... "He walked towards Île Saint-Louis, around Notre-Dame, crossed the iron bridge, and found himself a bit later on the narrow and populous Rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile."; in Maigret et le clochard [CLO], when Maigret, accompanied by Lapointe, goes to Pont-Marie for the first time... "Crossing the iron bridge, they got to Île Saint-Louis"; in Maigret et le tueur [TUE], it's Lapointe, whom Maigret has assigned to investigate Antoine Batille's friend, who goes to Île Saint-Louis, and crosses the bridge to get to the same street, to buy cigarettes.
- Pont Louis-Philippe
This bridge is mentioned in Maigret et le clochard [CLO], as the one under which Léa sleeps; in Maigret et le tueur [TUE], the bridge is part of the scene of the Île Saint-Louis when Maigret goes to Antoine Batille's burial, and he sees a line of cars "all along the quais, from Pont Louis-Philippe to Pont Sully".
- Pont des Arts
This bridge is mentioned in two stories... in L'homme dans la rue [hom], the bridge is crossed during the wanderings of Stéphan Strevski, followed by Maigret, who fears that that man will throw himself into the Seine from it; in On ne tue pas les pauvres types [pau], Janvier is there investigating the bistros in the areas Tremblet met with his daughter.
- Pont Mirabeau
Chronologically, in terms of publication, this bridge is the first to appear in the saga, found in La tête d'un homme [TET], when Inspector Dufour makes his report to Maigret about the escape, explaining that Heurtin crossed the Seine over the Pont Mirabeau to get to the Left Bank. The other mention is in a much later novel, Une confidence de Maigret [CON], in which the bridge plays an important role in the plot, since it's from there that Josset claims to have thrown the knife into the Seine.
- Pont National
This bridge appears twice in the saga, in once case by name, in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM], where it provides a more precise location of a place of the action: just opposite the Pont National was the shop of the grocer who saw Jacques Sainval's car waiting for Paulette Lachaume, whose house is about 200 yards from the bridge. The other mention of this bridge is made without its being specifically named, and once more it's Michel Lemoine's research that we call upon to learn that "the bridge whose name Maigret had forgotten" in Maigret et son mort [MOR], the bridge between Quai de Bercy and Quai de Charenton, was Pont National.
- Pont de Bercy
If the Quai de Bercy is a place mentioned fairly frequently in the saga, as we will see shortly, Pont de Bercy, on the other hand, is mentioned only once, in Maigret et le clochard [CLO]: it's there that François Keller slept before living under Pont Marie, and it's where he had witnessed the death of old Willems…
- Pont de Sully
This bridge only appears in Maigret et le tueur [CLO], to provide a location of the action. (see above, the citation for Pont Louis-Philippe.)
- Pont de la Tournelle
This bridge is one of the landmarks along the route of Maigret's walk with Ducrau in L'écluse no 1 [ECL]... Leaving Charenton, they went along the Seine, catching sight along the way of Pont d'Austerlitz (see above), then crossing Pont de la Tournelle to Île Saint-Louis, before finally reaching Pont-Neuf.
- Pont de la Concorde
The only mention of this bridge in the saga is found in Maigret et les vieillards [VIE]... it was from this bridge that Jaquette threw the pistol and shells that had shot Count de Saint-Hilaire.
- Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Another bridge from which a weapon was thrown, or more precisely, not far from it, this time François Ricain's Browning, in Le voleur de Maigret [VOL].
- Pont de Grenelle
Maigret crosses this bridge to get to where Sabin-Levesque's body was found, in Maigret et monsieur Charles [CHA].
And if you'd like to learn a little more about the bridges of Paris, here are links to three sites:
- "I covered the quais and underneath the quais." (Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM])
|"But I also love the quais of Paris
My old quais on the banks of the Seine
Under the blue sky, under the gray sky"
(extract from the song, Quais de Paris)
If the bridges let us pass above the Seine, the quais are the path alongside the flow of the river. Maigret takes great pleasure in strolling along the quais, and it's a route he chooses often, going to the PJ or returning home... And it's one of his favorite places to promenade, arm in arm with Mme Maigret...
While we can identify, in the saga, a certain number of quais, numerous mentions speak simply of "the quais" as a general entity, indicating that someone walks them, lives there (clochards, for example), or that such-and-such a building fronts on them.
We've catalogued 24 quais in the texts, and here is the list, with, in parentheses, the number of novels in which they appear at least once: Quai des Orfèvres (14), Quai de Bercy (7), Quai de la Tournelle (6), Quai des Grands-Augustins (6), Quai de l'Horloge (6), Quai de Charenton (5), Quai de la Rapée (4), Quai de la Mégisserie (4), Quai Voltaire (4), Quai de Javel (4), Quai de Bourbon (3), Quai de Valmy (3), the quais mentioned in two novels only, Quai de Jemmapes, Quai des Célestins, Quai d'Orléans, Quai de la Gare, and lastly, those mentioned in but a single novel, Quai d'Austerlitz, Quai Henri-IV, Quai de Béthune, Quai d'Anjou, Quai du Louvre, Quai des Tuileries, Quai d'Orsay, Quai de Grenelle.
- Quai des Orfèvres
It's evident that the expression "Quai des Orfèvres" most often designates, in the Maigrets, the building which houses the offices of the PJ, and thus we can find mention of this quai in this referential form in every novel of the saga. What interests us here is the quai itself, as a geographical entity, viewed most often from Maigret's office...
We meet the first evocation of this quai at the debut of the saga, as it's in the third chapter of Pietr le Letton [LET] that the raging of the November storm is described... "The trees on the quai were shaking violently, and little waves lapped around the laundry barge." In contrast, a novel at the end of the saga describes the quai on a hot day in August... "not a tremor of the foliage of the trees on the Quai des Orfèvres, the Seine flat and smooth as silk." (Maigret et l'homme tout seul [SEU])
The quai is crossed by Maigret's visitors coming – or hesitating to come – to his office, like Little Albert in Maigret et son mort [MOR], or Pigou in Maigret et le marchand de vin [VIN]. But it's also Maigret himself who walks along it, to go to the Brasserie Dauphine, for example. And the quai can serve as a weather indicator. Thus, in Les scrupules de Maigret [SCR], as he leaves his office, "On the quai, the cold surprised him, and he raised his overcoat collar, put his hands in his pockets, and headed towards the bus stop." In Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM], when the Chief Inspector arrives at this office in the morning, "On the quais, the rain was colder, and even more slanted."
- Quai de Bercy
We recognize Maigret's fondness for this quai, where he has led many investigations. So it's hardly surprising to find that it's been mentioned in numerous novels.
In Maigret et son mort [MOR], the Quai de Bercy is the first milestone on the route of Lucas's pursuit of Victor the Czech, from Little Albert's café on the Quai de Charenton (which we'll return to)... Victor, after leaving the café, heads toward the Quai de Bercy, "long, straight, with no side-streets", "almost deserted", bordered with railings, behind which were located the wine warehouses. For on this quai are the entreprises of the wine merchants, like Hervé Peyrot (Maigret et la vieille dame [DAM]) and Oscar Chabut (Maigret et le marchand de vin [VIN]).
We find a long description of these warehouse, of which we'll only give the first sentence here, at the beginning of Ch. 7 of Maigret s'amuse [AMU], when the Chief Inspector brings his wife there for a long stroll along the quais... "This was Quai de Bercy, where the shade of the trees was as soft and quiet, on that afternoon, as that of the promenade of a small town." And in La pipe de Maigret [pip], the quai was described as "like a provincial mall", with its "green arch of trees."
- Quai de la Tournelle
In the novels of the saga, this quai has hardly been mentioned, except to situate geographically some place in a plot. Thus, in L'écluse no 1 [ECL], Gassin gets an order to load his barge at the Quai de la Tournelle; in L'auberge aux noyés [noy], it's a sailor who has to go unload tiles on this quai, which Simenon curiously renames "Quai des Tournelles", as he did in Maigret et le clochard [CLO], where Mme Keller's windows looked out onto this same quai. In Maigret et le fantôme [FAN], it's at the Hôtel de la Tournelle, on the quai of the same name, that Stanley Hobson stays; in Maigret et le marchand de vin [VIN], Désiré Chabut has his bistro there; in La folle de Maigret [FOL], it was in a restaurant on the quai that Le Grand Marcel had dinner with Angèle Louette.
- Quai des Grands-Augustins
This quai is one of those Maigret likes to look out on from his office window, when he's not regarding the Quai des Orfèvres or Pont Saint-Michel. According to Michel Lemoine, it's the location of the Chope du Pont-Neuf (see, in the Forum, our text The mystery of the Chope du Pont-Neuf) in the novel Maigret [MAI], and also of the hotel Maigret stays at in the same novel. Notably, this is the quai of the café Aux Caves du Beaujolais, from which Little Albert made his first call to Maigret (Maigret et son mort [MOR]), a café found at the place "where the Quai des Grands-Augustins forms a ramp to the Pont Saint-Michel." Following Michel Lemoine, we agree that it's the same café as in Maigret tend un piège [TEN] and Maigret s'amuse [AMU], where the Chief Inspector stations himself to have a view of his office windows.
- Quai de l'Horloge
Parallel to the Quai des Orfèvres, this quai runs along the other side of the Palais de Justice, along the other bank of the Île de la Cité. The Quai de l'Horloge, in the Maigrets, is the site of the cells of the Dépôt. It's to there that Maigret leads Ducrau at the end of L'écluse no 1 [ECL], Picard in Signé Picpus [SIG], and where he interrogates Dédé in La première enquête de Maigret [PRE]. It's to there as well that he has Pierrot driven, to enter the PJ more discreetly, for the Quai de l'Horloge is "hardly frequented. No one will pay any attention to him. One of my inspectors will wait for him at the door and lead him here through the Palais de Justice." (Maigret se trompe [TRO]).
- Quai de Charenton
With this quai, strictly speaking, we leave the limits of Paris, but as it's an important location in the investigations, we'll include it. In fact we have all the more reason to do so since Simenon himself, in the saga, mentions this quai as a sort of continuation of the Quai de Bercy, which it extends beyond the warehouses we've spoken of above... "Ha! Beyond the limits of Paris, well into Charenton, the quai continues to be called Quai de Bercy." (La pipe de Maigret [pip])
The Quai de Charenton is an important scene in two Maigret investigations, La pipe de Maigret [pip] and Maigret et son mort [MOR]. In the story, it's where Mme Leroy's house is found, on "a very wide quai, with warehouses, barges unloading", where "there were no more trees", but "warehouses, suburban villas built when it was still almost country and now stuck between apartment houses." In the novel, we find essentially the same decor... "the quai widened out, bordered on one side with one- or two-story houses... There were always a great number of barges there, and Maigret saw once more the harbor covered with barrels as far as you could see." It was on this quai that they discovered Little Albert's café, "at a street corner on the quai."
In Maigret s'amuse [AMU], the Chief Inspector and Mme Maigret continued their promenade on the Quai de Bercy, towards "the Quai de Charenton, where Paris suddenly takes on the aspect of the suburbs. He had always liked the wide unloading quais cluttered with barrels and various materials, the gray houses, between new apartments, recalling a Paris of another era."
Finally, if Oscar Chabut had his warehouses at Bercy (see above), his offices were on the Quai de Charenton (Maigret et le marchand de vin [VIN]), giving Maigret the opportunity to lead a new investigation there, among the rows of barrels and the odors of cheap wine…
- Quai de la Rapée
It's on this quai that Simenon situated "the pink buildings of the Medico-Legal Institute [the morgue]" (La colère de Maigret [COL]). Leaving there, Maigret and Janvier see the "comings and goings aboard the barges moored at the quai" (Maigret et la jeune morte [JEU]). It was at the Quai de la Rapée that the elder Willems fell in (Maigret et le clochard [CLO]).
- Quai de la Mégisserie
This quai is known for its numerous animal and plant shops, and in the Maigrets, it's where we encounter a number of bird shops, as in Maigret et l'homme du banc [BAN], where Maigret visits old Saimbron who lives on the quai, in a building stuck "between two shops where they sell birds, and whose cages invade a good portion of the sidewalk." In La folle de Maigret [FOL], Léontine de Caramé lives on the same quai, in a building whose ground floor is occupied by a bird seller, the well-named M. Caille [quail]...
- Quai Voltaire
In the saga, this quai serves essentially as an address, particularly for the offices of two notaries, Me Ballu in Maigret se fâche [FAC] and Me Barbarin in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM].
- Quai de Javel
This quai has been renamed today, "Quai André Citroën", after the automobile manufacturer whose factory was located there. And some characters in the saga were employed in that factory, Victor Poliensky in Maigret et son mort [MOR], and Joseph Raison in Maigret et le voleur paresseux [PAR].
- Quai de Bourbon
This quai served as the address of the offices of Amorelle et Campois (Maigret se fâche) [FAC] and of the Englishman who lent his apartment to Jacques Sainval. (Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM])
- Quai de Valmy
With this quai, and the one below, we leave the banks of the Seine for the Canal Saint-Martin. We allow ourselves this departure because it's a place Maigret often goes to, and which he enjoys. The Quai de Valmy includes the warehouses of Balthazar Coffee (La première enquête de Maigret [PRE]), and it's also where Jef Schrameck lives (Maigret et l'homme du banc [BAN]). But above all it's the quai where we find Aline Calas's bistro (Maigret et le corps sans tête [COR]), and Maigret enjoys investigating along this quai, where the buildings have faded yellow and white facades which can, on a sunny March morning, have an aspect "as light as a painting by Utrillo" (ibid.).
- Quai de Jemmapes
This quai borders the other side of the Canal Saint-Martin, opposite the Quai de Valmy above. Itʻs on this quai, in "two rooms above a green-painted bistro", that Ernestine and Alfred Jussiaume live (Maigret et la Grande Perche [GRA]), and at the end of the quai is the police station (Maigret et le corps sans tête [COR]).
- Quai des Célestins
Ducrau's offices are on this quai. (L'écluse no 1 [ECL]) And when Maigret comes to interrogate Jef van Houtte on his barge moored at Pont Marie, he hears "the sound of cars, above, Quai des Célestins" (Maigret et le clochard [CLO]), and, a little later, the Chief Inspector and Lapointe cross the quai to go to a bistro on the Rue de l'Ave-Maria.
- Quai d'Orléans
This is where Mme Keller lives (Maigret et le clochard [CLO]), and in Maigret et le tueur [TUE], cars are seen parked here at Antoine Batille's funeral.
- Quai de la Gare
As Michel Lemoine reminds us, the Quai de la Gare as Simenon knew it, today covers three quais: it's still called Quai de la Gare just after Pont de Bercy, then, up to Pont de Tolbiac, it becomes Quai François-Mauriac, which extends by the Quai Panhard et Levassor to Pont National, before leaving the official limits of Paris to arrive at Ivry, where the case of Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM] took place, which we should be permiited to mention here, since Simenon wrote that the Lachaumes' house was on the Quai de la Gare. As we said above, this house is found relatively close to Pont National, and thus we've considered this location as still being part of Paris… The Quai de la Gare, in this novel, presents us a scene of an evolving suburb... "There, where formerly had only been houses and construction sites, now stood six- and seven-story rental buildings, with shops and bistros on the ground floor, though there were still holes here and there, empty lots, workshops, and two or three low houses."
Several years earlier (see the story, On ne tue pas les pauvres types [pau]), this quai, the part closest to Paris ("beyond Pont d'Austerlitz" as the text puts it), still had its rural allure... "A wide quai, alongside which several rows of barges rested lazily. A quai which still felt provincial, along the Seine, with just two-story houses, between some rental properties, bistros which no one seemed to enter, and courtyards where you were surprised to see chickens pecking at the manure." It was here that Maurice Tremblet came for his refuge, to fish peacefully and set up his canary cages...
- Quai d'Austerlitz
>On this quai are Marcel Basso's house and coalyards (La guinguette à deux sous [GUI]). There we see "a yard surrounded by a black fence", and opposite, "an unloading dock... and barges".
- Quai Henri-IV
It's on this quai, "one of the quietest, least frequented in Paris" (if that was true at the time, it's no longer the case today, as it's become a route well-used by cars!) that Albert's friends' yellow car broke down (Maigret et son mort [MOR]).
- Quai de Béthune
This quai is only mentioned in Maigret et le tueur [TUE], where we find the lines of parked cars as mentioned above.
- Quai d'Anjou
The Batilles' house was on this quai (Maigret et le tueur [TUE]). There we find houses and cars "of great luxury", and "limousines with chauffeur" on the day of Antoine's burial.
- Quai du Louvre
We find bird sellers on this quai, who sold the numerous canary cages to Maurice Tremblet (On ne tue pas les pauvres types [pau]).
- Quai des Tuileries
This quai is only mentioned in passing, to clarify where Little Albert's body was found, "Place de la Concorde… near the Quai des Tuileries."
- Quai d'Orsay
Outside of using this name to refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see Maigret et les vieillards [pau]), which we are not concerned with here, this quai appears, georgraphically, in a novel where it is not named, and for reason... as Michel Lemoine has noted, a part of this quai has been renamed Quai Anatole-France, and that's the location of the hotel where Me Canonge would stay when he arrived at the Gare d'Orsay (Maigret et le corps sans tête [COR]).
- Quai de Grenelle
This is the quai where the barge of the sailor who discovered Sabin-Levesque's corpse was moored (Maigret et monsieur Charles [CHA]); we see there "wooden beams, piles of bricks, and barrels... two or three barges unloading."
And so we conclude our little promenade along the Seine, in the steps of our Chief Inspector. And perhaps we'll let him lead us a little further, closing with this final image, "He went there on foot, along the quais to Pont-Marie, which he crossed. He smoked his pipe slowly, keeping his hand in his pockets"…
translation: S. Trussel
Honolulu - March 2016
|image: Maigret et le corps sans tête, Editions du Rocher 1997, adaptation et scénario: Odile REYNAUD, dessin et couleur: Frank BRICHAUD|