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Georges Simenon is one of the greatest Belgian authors of the 20th century. Liège, where he was born, features greatly in his hero’s adventures, the internationally famous Maigret.

The legend says Simenon was born at ten past midnight on Friday, February 13th, 1903 and that his mother, a little superstitious, preferred to stay on the cautious sides of things and officially declared its birth to have happened on the 12th of February instead. His native home was at 24 Léopold Street, not far from Saint-Lambert square.

At the age of 12, as he studies at the Saint-Servais school on Saint-Gilles Street, Georges Simenon already knows he wants to write fiction. At the age of 16, he starts as a journalist at the Gazette de Liège where he draws up small articles.  Just before turning 20, he leaves for Paris and writes his first books under various pseudonyms. He becomes famous from 1931 with his stories featuring Inspector Maigret.

During WW2, he writes Pedigree, an autobiographical novel in which he shares memories of his childhood in Liège. He then moves to the US, then Switzerland where he died in 1989.

In the 1950ies, he is known internationally. His books, the most translated in the world, exist in over 30 languages and have been adapted into movies countless times. We owe this prolific author 192 novels (mostly detective ones), 158 short stories, and several autobiographies.

If Parisian Inspector Maigret is the most famous of his characters, if his stories take place all around the world... references to his home city are omnipresent. You might even notice a slight resemblance between Maigret and the author: both smoke the pipe, love good food and bistrots atmosphere.

« To understand, but judge, never »

Georges Simenon

Simenon’s beloved Liège

Near Saint-Lambert square, right behind the Town Hall (la Violette) is a statue of Simenon. Sitting on a bench, this famously pipe smoker invites passers-by to spend a moment on too by his side.

Maigret (1931), a Parisian commissioner, might be the best known of his characters, his stories might take place everywhere in the world… references to Liège, Simenon’s hometown, abound throughout his work. You might even notice a slight resemblance between Maigret and the author: the pipe, the love of good food and bistrots atmosphere.

Portrait photography of the Georges Simenon statue on the Saint-Lambert Square in Liège© WBT - Olivier Bourgi

Crossing the Meuse river via the Pont des Arches bridge, you get to the Saint-Pholien church, in Outremeuse – the stage of the most famous of Georges Simenon’s books. The story of the « The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien» was inspired by a real story which he wrote about in the Gazette de Liège. « The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin » and « Three crimes » also take place in Liège.


Family walking down the Montagne de Bueren in Liège© WBT - Denis Erroyaux

The Free Republic of Outremeuse is the district where Simenon’s spirit remains the strongest. Start Place du Congrès, where you will find a bust of the writer then head for the Georges Simenon Street, near Place de l’Yser, where a Youth Hostel was also named after him. There, Georges, as a child, would watch his father train with the civic gard. For his military service, Simenon did not go far: he will be posted Boulevard de la Constitution. For chats and philosophical discussions with other artists, he would have gone to La Caque (Impasse de la Houpe), a short distance from the banks of the Meuse river and the Tanneur docks.

Walk along the latter to reach the Quai de Gaulle, formerly known as the Quai des Pêcheurs – where Simenon used to moor his yacht, « L’Ostrogoth ». He is said to have written his first Maigret book on this boat. At the end of the docks, take the pedestrian bridge to leave the Outremeuse district, just as Simenon must have done so many times. This will take you to the Saint-Denis collegiate church, where his family went to rather elegant morning mass

Continue in Georges Simenon’s steps


A discovery stroll of Liège

The walk following Simenon’s steps will take you to all the sites linked to Belgian author Georges Simenon’s life.

Enjoy a drink in the Outremeuse district in Liège© Nicolas Atetson

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