Place Denfert-Rochereau

Place d’Enfer is a historical square that highlights monuments such as the Lion de Belfort, Farmers General Wall Toll houses, and the entrance to the Catacombs of Paris.

Place Denfert-Rochereau is one of the largest public squares on the left bank. It is located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris and was formally known as Place d’Enfer. The old name comes from the Rue d’Enfer, translated as Gate of Hell, which was changed to Rue Denfert-Rochereau.. Scholars speculate that the name refers to the general uneasiness associated with the area whose lowlife inhabitants included thieves and other unsavory characters. Others believe the name is associated with the iron door (en fer- iron) part of the Philip Augustus Wall.

Named after the French commander Pierre Denfert-Rocheeau who organized the defense during the France-Prussian War at the Siege of Belfort, the Place dates back to the 18th century through a series of letters that refers to the site as being part of the old Farmers General Wall. The Wall of the Farmers General wall was authorized in 1782 by Charles Alexander de Calonne, the Finance Minister, and financed by the Farmers General, a syndicate of tax "farmers" or collectors who contracted with the government for the authority to collect taxes on behalf of the king. The wall had 47 gates and 16 toll houses that were built in order to oversee the collection of funds. Only four of the toll houses still stand today; these include, Rotonde de Monceau, Rotonde de la Villette, the Barriere du Trone, and the Barriere d’Enfer. These Toll Houses were stationed as a point of entry in and out of the city to collect import duties on goods entering into Paris. Opposition to these unpopular taxes in the 18th century helped fuel the French Revolution. The gate takes the name of Barriere d’Enfer and is comprised of two toll houses on the Avenue du Colonel-Henri-Roi-Tanguy designed by architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux and built in 1787. One of the two toll houses is currently the entrance to the catacombs. The other former toll house houses the Direction de la Voirie et des Deplacements (Directorate of Roads and Transport).

In the center of the Place Denfert-Rochereau stands a large bronze statue, the Lion de Belfort, by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who is best known as the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. In 1880, the statue was placed in the middle of a traffic circle. to commemorate the resistance against the Prussians during the Siege of Belfort led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau. The Lion de Belfort symbolizes courage and opposition during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).

Place Denfert-Rochereau is located at the intersections of Boulevard Raspail, Boulevard Argo, and Boulevard Saint-Jacques. Currently, Place Denfert-Rochreau serves as a Paris metro stop and train station. Metro lines 4 and 6 lines are accessible here as well as the RER B line.