Les Sentiers De Grandes Randonnées ASBL (SGR)
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Simenon: Liège is in all his novels
Georges Simenon is considered to be a great writer of the 20th century. Liège, his hometown, appears in most of the father of Maigret's novels.
Georges Simenon was officially born on 12 February 1903, on Rue Léopold in Liège, at number 24. We say officially because legend has it that he was actually born on 13 February at 0:10am, but his superstitious mother declared the birth as the day before. Georges Simenon was, therefore, born just a stone's throw from Place Saint-Lambert.
Already, at the tender age of 12, during his time as a pupil at Saint-Servais college on rue Saint-Gilles, George Simenon knew that he wanted to write novels. He went on to start his writing career as a journalist at the Gazette de Liège where he wrote columns. Simenon is a verbose author who has written 193 novels, 158 novellas and several autobiographies. He also wrote numerous works using 27 different pseudonyms.
Right next to Place Saint-Lambert, behind the City Hall (la Violette) there is a statue of Simenon. Sitting on a bench and smoking a pipe, he invites passers by to sit with him a moment. A little further along the guided walk and you arrive at Place du Marché, where Arnold Maigret's name lies on the First World War memorial. Even though Parisian police superintendent Maigret (1931), is the Liège writer's most famous character and his novels take place all over the world, the references to his hometown are omnipresent in Simenon's works. As for superintendent Maigret, he bears some striking resemblances to the the author: he is a pipe smoker, a great food lover and enjoys the atmosphere of cafes...
If you cross over the Meuse river on the Pont des Arches bridge, you will find yourself in front of Saint-Pholien church in Outremeuse. Without doubt one of Georges Simenon's most famous works, "The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien" (also published as Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets) is inspired by a true story from 1922 written about in La Gazette de Liège. "Maigret at the Gai-Moulin" and "Three Crimes" are also works with a distinct Liège character.
The " Free Republic of Outremeuse" is the neighbourhood of Liège in which Simenon's presence is the most prevelant. Starting with Place du Congrès and its bust of the famous author and Rue Georges Simenon, next to Place de l’Yser where you will find the Youth hostel that is named after him. It was here that, every other Sunday, a young Georges would watch his father taking part in Civil Guard exercises. During his military service, militiaman Georges dind't venture very far: he was based in the barracks on Boulevard de la Constitution. For his metings among artists he would go to "La Caque", on Impasse de la Houpe, not far from the banks of the Meuse and the Quai des Tanneurs.
As you follow the quays you arrive at Quai de Gaulle, which was called Quai des Pêcheurs in Simenon's day and was were he would moor his yacht the "Ostrogoth". It was on board this yacht that Simenon was said to have written his first Maigret novel. You can leave Outremeuse by crossing the foot bridge at the end of the Quai de Gaule. It is a footbridge that Simenon crossed many times, as the people of Liège still do today. From here you arrive at the Saint-Denis Collegiate church where the Simenon family attended a "chic" 10:30am Mass.