Le charretier de "La Providence" - 1
LE CHARRETIER DE "LA PROVIDENCE" - Maigret meets a Milord - The crime at lock 14 - Georges Simenon, 1930 (Morsang-sur-Seine)
For more background information on the story and Dizy, visit also the Travel Log:
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The story - a summary
Maigret is sent to investigate the murder of a woman at the lock #14 nearby the village of Dizy. He gets acquainted with the eccentric crew of the yacht "Southern Cross". Sir Lampson, the owner of the yacht and husband of the victim Mary and his boatswain Willy attract Maigret's suspicions. Willy was also Mary's lover.
However, the autopsy of Mary's body reveals certain details that point Maigret's attention to the barge the "Providence". Jean is the carter of this canal-boat. This solitary and silent man, draws his interest. (wel twee keer 'draw ' als werkwoord , vlak na elkaar)

Three days after the start of the investigation, Willy in his turn is assassinated. Some indications, in particular a badge found at the place of the crime, make Sir Lampson the likely culprit. But when Maigret learns that a bicycle was used on the sly the night of the crime he again turns to the carter Jean.
Feeling suspected Jean tries to commit suicide and by doing so injures himself critically.
La nuit du
La guinguette
à deux sous
Maigret discovers some incriminating facts about Jean's past:
Jean Darchambaux appears to be a former physician who killed his rich aunt to satisfy the luxurious tastes of his wife. This happened more than 25 years ago.
L' inspecteur
Les larmes
de bougie
He was caught and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in the penal colony ("bagne") in French Guyana.
In spite of her promises his wife Céline Mornet, now Mary, Sir Lampson's spouse, refused to follow Jean to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in Guyana, where he had to do his time.
Despaired Jean turned rancorous and the callous conditions in the penal colony withered his intellectual abilities.
After his release he became the carter of the "Providence".
Vente à la
La maison
du juge
Mon ami
Maigret à
L'Auberge aux
Le notaire de
The actor Charles Moulin in the part of the carter Jean Darchambaux
On the barge he created a small universe of his own and he felt fairly at ease.
Then, by chance, he found his former wife and killed her. Moreover he had to kill Willy ,who surprised him sneaking around the yacht where he tried to scramble the tracks.
In the company of his horses Jean dies as a result of his wounds, surrounded by the almost maternal affection of Hortense Canelle, the bargeman's wife, and the moved empathy of Maigret. (1)
Le charretier de
"La Providence" - 1
Le charretier de
"La Providence" - 2
Analysis of the locality
Chez les
"Arriving at Dizy he had seen only a narrow canal at about three kilometers from Epernay, and a not very important village close to a stone bridge.
He needed to trudge through the mud, along the tow path, until he reached the lock, which was at two kilometers from Dizy. There he had found the house of the lockkeeper, put up in gray stones, with the sign: 'Bureau de declaration' on it. He had entered the Café de la Marine, which was the only other building on the spot." (2)
The village of Dizy is situated in the department of the Marne at about 140 Km (87mi) east of Paris. It is a small community (1.855 inh.) that in fact is almost a part of the adjacent town of Epernay. Properly speaking the village has no role whatsoever in the story.
The action in the novel is mainly placed at the lock#14 of Dizy, along the tow path next to the "Canal latéral de la Marne" and in Vitry-le-François where the denouement takes place.
For more information on the French penal colony in Guyana
Go to:
The lock and the lockkeeper's house at Dizy
The lock #14 - 15?
"Le Bagne" The lock of Dizy is still there it is situated at about 2 Km (1.25mi) from the village center, of course it is modernized as well as the house of the lockkeeper.
The locks on the canal are computer operated and the lockkeeper, who still lives in the house at lock of Dizy, is now responsible for all the sluices along the canal.
It is noteworthy that the number of the lock does not correspond with the number in the novel. In reality the lock of Dizy is #15 instead of #14. However, there is no doubt that this is the lock intended by Simenon in Le charretier de la Providence.
- It is the only lock at Dizy
- It is situated completely in accordance with the description in the novel
- It is situated, as mentioned in the novel, on the junction of the Marne river and the "Canal latéral de la Marne" (canal besides the Marne).
Sign on the lock keeper's house indicating this is lock #15
For more information on the localities go to the Travel Log.
Sign for the ships coming from Paris indicating the junction Junction: on the left the lock and the canal, on the right the river Marne
Why did Simenon change this number?
Didn't he remember the precise figure? Simenon discovered these surroundings in 1924 during one of his first journeys through France with his small boat "Le Ginette" in the company of his wife Tiggy and the servant girl Boule (see Travel Log - Dizy). After all, this was 7 years earlier.
Did he change the number in a, somewhat futile, attempt to make the site unidentifiable?
There still is no real road to lock. Yet, trudging through the mud from Dizy to the lock isn't needed anymore. There now is a paved thoroughfare, from the road from Dizy to Damery, leading to a small bridge over the channel at 500 meters from the lock. From there the lock is to be reached over the gravelled tow path.
As on most old canals in France the vessels on the "Canal latéral de la Marne" are mostly pleasure crafts. The canal is rather wide but the locks are only about 4 meters. Therefore modern commercial barges can not navigate on the canal.
However, the locks and the banks of the canal are excellently maintained.
The tow path with in the background the lock and the lock keeper's house
The Lock at Dizy with pleasure craft Old photograph with tow horses and carter
Café de la Marine
"- Can I lock?" The boss wants to stay over in Juvigny tomorrow...
At 07.20 PM, 'La Providence' was stopped in front of the Café de la Marine." (2)

"The lockkeeper accompanied his family to the main road, which crosses the canal at two kilometers from the lock. He didn't see anything unusual. On the way back he shed a glance on 'La Marine' while passing by, then he was called upon by a pilot." (2)
Since "Juvigny" and the intended bridge are east of the lock, according to these excerpts from the novel, the café was situated on the right hand side of the lockkeeper's home when facing this building.
At least one café existed. But it was located on the left side of the house. It was destroyed by fire about 20 years ago. At the end it must have been a kind of dance hall.
The matter gets even more complicated. Although Simenon mentions only one café in Le charretier de la Providence, in his article "Une France inconnue" he relates:


A lock, far from the village. Three bar-grocers where fuel oil is sold... " (3)
Apparently at some point in time there must have been three cafés at the lock of Dizy!
So, it is possible, even likely, that also on the spot depicted in the novel there was a bar annex grocery store.
On this spot used to be a 'café" until 20 years ago Pleasure craft in the lock of Dizy
Go to: Le charretier de "La Providence" - 2
From top to bottom:
- Composition of a drawing of Maigret's silhouette from the cover of: Georges Simenon, "Maigret hesite", Presses de la Cite, Paris and map on http://www.1bis.com/1bis/. Design G. de Croock.
- Cover of first edition of Le charretier de "La Providence", 1931. from: http://www.brasseriedauphine.com website of Marco Sabatti.
- Photo of Charles Moulin in the role of the carter in the TV-film Le charretier de "La Providence" by Marcel Cravenne, 1980. : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/serretta/charlesmoulin2.htm, Website of the carreer of the actor Charles Moulin.
- Photo lock and lock keeper's house, G. de Croock.
- Map by:Route 66, Route Europa 2000, Copyright Route 66 Geographic Information Systems B.V., Ede (NL). Adaptation by G. De Croock.
- Photo Sign lock #15. G. de Croock
- Photo sign junction. G.de Croock
- Photo junction of the Canal Latéral de la Marne and the river Marne. G. de Croock.
- Photo tow path and house lock keeper. G. de Croock.
- Photo lock with pleasure craft, G.de Croock
- Postcard Carter with horses and tow boat, no source.
- Illustration position café, photo G.de Croock
- Photo position café, G.de Croock
(1) Translation and compilation from: Maurice Piron, L'Univers de Simenon, Presses de la Cité, Paris, 1983, p.261. Translation of excerpt: G. de Croock.
(2) Georges Simenon, Le charretier de "La Providence", 1931. Excerpts translated in English by G.de Croock out of the 1972 edition, A.Fayard & Cie, Paris.
(3) Georges Simenon, Mes apprentissages, Reportages 1931 - 1946, Administration de l'œuvre de Georges Simenon et Omnibus, 2001.

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La nuit du carrefour - 1, - 2
La guinguette à deux sous - 1, - 2
L' inspecteur Cadavre - 1, - 2, - 3
Les larmes de bougie - 1, - 2
Vente à la bougie - 1, - 2
La maison du juge - 1, - 2, - 3
Mon ami Maigret - 1, - 2, - 3
Maigret à Vichy - 1, - 2
l'Affaire Saint-Fiacre - 1, - 2
l'Auberge aux Noyés - 1, - 2
Le notaire de Chéteauneuf - 1, - 2
M.Gallet, décédé - 1, - 2, - 3
Le charretier de "La Providence" - 1, - 2
Chez les Flamands - 1, - 2