Vente à la bougie - 1
VENTE A LA BOUGIE - Inspector Maigret directs - Under the hammer - Sale by auction - Georges Simenon - 1939 (Nieul-sur-Mer)

The story - a summary
A crime takes place in the inn of Pont-du-Grau, in the Vendée. Maigret who at that time directs the "Brigade mobile" of Nantes, takes on the inquiry.
The victim's name is Borchain, a farmer from the surroundings of Angoulème.
He has come to Pont-du-Grau with the intention to buy a property that will be sold by auction the following day.
Home Page
Seven suspects
The suspects are seven:
Michaux, the inn owner, 49 years old and an ex-ruffian.
His partner Julia, an ex-prostitute.
Thérésa, the 18-year old maid with whom Michaux hopes to start a new life soon. Nicolas, a fisherman, alcoholic.
Groux, the fierce farmer whose property will be sold.
Canut, intending purchaser of the farm to be sold.
Gentil, a not very serious customs officer.
La nuit du
Three days
La guinguette
à deux sous
For three days, Maigret questions this company and makes them repeat the words and the acts of the evening of the murder.
Finally, the victim's wallet, well filled, is found in a hiding-place that only is known to Michaux and Julia.
At last Julia admits to the killing of Borchain with the intention of stealing his money.
In that manner she wanted to prove to Michaux, who wanted to leave her for Thérésa, that she could still be useful to him. (1)
L' inspecteur
Les larmes
de bougie
Vente à la
bougie - 1
Vente à la
bougie - 2
La maison
du juge
Analysis of the locality
Mon ami
The inn, property of Michaux and place of the crime, is situated in the Department of the Vendée in the West of France, in a spot called Pont-du-Grau.
There is no such place in France. Again the locality is renamed by Simenon.

The description in the short story is of a rather general character:
Maigret à
L'Auberge aux
Le notaire de
"Even the place where it all came about! It seemed all so unreal to him, being there for the last three days, in a lonely inn, kilometers away from any village, in the middle of the marshes of the Vendée.
The spot was called Pont-du-Grau, and indeed there was a bridge (2), a long wooden bridge over a sort of muddy canal, that was washed by the tide twice a day. But one couldn't see the ocean. The only thing one could see were the marches cut trough by a multitude of narrow ditches and, far away, on the horizon, flat roofed farmhouses." (3)
M.Gallet, décédé
Le charretier de
"La Providence"
Chez les
The first question that comes to mind is: What is Maigret, chief of the "Brigade Special" in Paris doing in the Vendée department?

"When Maigret , during that period, head of the investigation team (4) in the City of Nantes..." (3)

So Maigret was for some reason or another stationed in Nantes. This is not explained and this fact does not appear in any other Maigret novel or short story. In Les mémoires de Maigret (Maigret's Memoirs), Nantes is mentioned as the city where he lives with his aunt after his mother's death and studies medicine for a few years.
There are good reasons to assume that the short story Le témoignage de l'enfant de Choeur (The evidence of the altar-boy) is set in Nantes, whilst the Maigrets live there. But it is not explicitly mentioned.
During the time this story was written, shortly before the second World War, Simenon lived in Nieul-sur-Mer about 120 km away from Nantes, but only 16 Km from Pont-du-Brault where we will situate this story.
Go to Vente à la bougie - 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 Design G. de Croock.
- Photograph from: Maigret et la vente à la bougie (Vente à la bougie).
France 2/Dune/ Filmes Do Tejo/RTBF/Télévision Suisse Romande/ Ceska TV (French). 1994. Director: Pierre Granier-Deferre, Maigret: Bruno Cremer. From:
- Photo Marais communal du Poiré-sur-Velluire: site Marais Poitevin. Ce document provient du site Internet du Parc Interrégional du Marais Poitevin :". copyright - collection Parc Interrégional du Marais Poitevin
- Map by IGN (institut de géographie nationale) - France.
(1) Translation and compilation from: Maurice Piron, L'Univers de Simenon, Presses de la Cité, Paris, 1983, p.460. Translation of excerpt: G. de Croock.
(2) Pont (Fr.) = Bridge
(3) Georges Simenon, Vente à la bougie, 1939. Excerpt translated in English by G. de Croock out of the Dutch edition, "Openbare verkoping" in "Maigret en de varkentjes zonder staart", vertaling K.H. Romijn, A.W. Bruna & Zoons, Utrecht / Antwerpen, 1964.
(4) In the French text is mentioned "Brigade Cycliste" (Fr.), this should be literally translated as "bicycle brigade". This is a historical name for a mobile police squad that investigates crimes in a larger administrative region.
Go to a novel or story analysis - Click on the title

Home, Summary, Analysis, Travel log
Links, Guestbook, Miscellaneous

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