Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Following in Simenon's Footsteps


I'm just back from a short but highly enjoyable trip to Belgium, where my itinerary included a trip to Liege, birthplace of Georges Simenon, the prolific creator of Maigret and, in addition, the author of a great many notable non-series novels. There is a Simenon audio-visual tour, and the great man's statue is to be found in a square named after...Maigret. My travelling companion, Mr Edwards junior, and I enjoyed a drink in the square on a truly lovely Sunday. Sunday's also the day when the great market along the banks of the Meuse takes place in Liege, and this was well worth a visit. Other sights include an epic climb up the Mountain of Bueren, a rather steep flight of nearly 400 steps. I did get to the top, but at a stately pace...



Another great trip was to Antwerp, famous for Rubens, and a port with a huge amount of character. There was plenty going on, not least the Antwerp Pride festival, and a particular highlight was a trip to the top of the MAS Museum, close to the river Scheldt, where on a sunny day the views all around are quite fantastic.



Our base was Brussels, a city I last visited a long time ago The Grand Place is as grand as ever, but this time around, there was something very special about it - the Flower Carpet, a bi-annual display of begonia petals that attracts huge crowds. It was good to be part of those crowds, as one of the locals told me that tourism in the city had been blighted by the recent terrorist attacks. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of armed police in evidence, but the mood of the city was very positive, and that was great to see.




Belgium's a great country. It didn't only give us crime fans Simenon, but S.A. Steeman and Poirot as well, among others. The landscape's flattish (except for those steps in Liege!) , but the places I've mentioned, as well as Ghent and Bruges, are truly delightful. Absolutely worth a visit.

6 comments:

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the tour here, Martin--sounds like a fun time. My wife Tara is actually headed to Brussels herself in a couple of weeks. I'll share this with her as well!

Richard Robinson said...

Wonderful! Thank you for the brief travelog and photographs.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Art. Hope Tara enjoys it as much as I did!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Richard.

paulbeech said...

Good to hear you had such a good time with your son in Belgium, Martin, though I feel puffed out just looking at the pics of the Mountain of Bueren! I like the pic of you in shades, sitting next to Simenon’s statue, though.

Gosh, what a crime writer Simenon was, surely one of the most prolific ever, though in a Paris Review interview he once commented: “Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.” In the same interview he explained how, before beginning a novel, he’d check he had no appointments for eleven days (the anticipated writing period) then call his doctor for a check-up before starting.

An enjoyable post that has taken me back – I visited Belgium in ’69, my first time abroad.

Best,

Paul

Martin Edwards said...

Cheers, Paul. Yes, Simenon was quite a unique writer and that high-speed method of his is not for everyone, that's for sure!