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.