Belgicism…He lives in Houtsiplou


Houtsiplou, like its synonym Macapète, refers to an imaginary, remote place, in the middle of nowhere, far away from all civilisation, populated by uncultured and illiterate residents. It's therefore both nowhere and anywhere. It has variants throughout the world: Pamparigouste in Occitania, Trou-en-Cambrousse or Tataouine-les-Bains in France, Saint-Profond-des-Meumeu in Quebec and plenty of others for which it would be tedious to extend the list.

The term is so common in the land of Magritte that the popular singer, Grand Jojo, dedicated his song "A Outsiplou" to it, and it resonated in the venerable auditorium of Parliament: "If they imagine that because the Houtsiplou music school awarded them a distinction or grand distinction, they are great artists..." (Session of Tuesday 3 March 1953 of the Chamber of Representatives, Belgian parliamentary annals).


This evocative name comes from the Walloon "hoûte-s'i-ploût" (listen if it rains). And, despite everything that has been said above, the place really does exist! It's in the Liège province, on the territory of the Neupré municipality. Before, the place was called Pîrâpré. As the stream of the Pîrâpré mill only had an intermittent flow and given that it was often dry in summer, the worried miller sometimes woke up his son in the middle of the night saying "hoûte s'i ploût! or "listen if it rains!". The miller and his son would never have imagined that their little hamlet would soon owe its name to the nickname of their mill and would relegate them to the end of the world.