Place Denfert-Rochereau square in Paris
This is one of the historical squares in Paris that has a monument in the middle along with three other different squares or gardens that surround it, plus it also has the official entrance to the Catacombes, which are an unusual, yet popular tourist attraction.
A bit of history
Originally this was an area that was part of the Wall of the Farmers General, which was constructed in order to stop tax evasion, and there was an opening in the wall here, so tollhouses were built that meant these were the only way in and out of the city of Paris and they were often called the Barriere d’Enfer.
However, with the problems and demoralising defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, the city wanted to put a positive effect back into the opinion and mindset of the public, and they wanted to try and emphasise the good that many did during this war, which was why squares were named after heroes and specific events.
And because of the original name for this Paris square, it seemed very appropriate and fitting that it should be changed from Place d’Enfer to Place Denfert-Rochereau and named after a French colonel who had fought in the Franco-Prussian war.
About Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris
The Place Denfert-Rochereau is a large square that has numerous different intersections including the Avenue du Colonel-Henri-Rol-Tanguy, which is where the official entrance to the Catacombes is located next to one of the original pavilions of the old Barriere d’Enfer for collection of taxes, which have been classed as historical monuments in Paris.
And it is in the centre of this square in Paris you will find the statue called the Lion of Belfort that faces onto these historical pavilions that were constructed by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, who also constructed the La Rotonde de la Villette.
There are numerous trees around the Place Denfert-Rochereau including horse chestnuts and maples, yet there are also three different garden areas that have been named separate squares in their own right, which are the Square Jacques Antoine that has its own statue, the Square Claude Nicolas Ledoux named after the architect mentioned above, and the Square Abbe Migne.
But you will also find an unusual railway station located here that was designed in a circular shape, which is called the Gare Denfert-Rochereau, and having been also classified as a historical monument, this is the oldest train station in Paris that was constructed in the 1840s, but now serves the RER trains.
The Lion of Belfort Statue
It was on a proposal of the artist Fredereric Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty in New York and the smaller statue in Paris on the Ile aux Cygnes island, that the City of Paris agreed to erect a copy of the Lion of Belfort within the Place Denfert-Rochereau.
Made in bronze and exactly the same, just on a smaller scale to the sandstone Lion of Belfort that Frederic Auguste Bartholdi had sculpted in honour of Denfert-Rochereau, this was in honour of the defendants of France during the siege of 1870 and 1871 where Denfert-Rochereau was stationed during the Franco-Prussian war.
This large lion statue was placed within the centre of the square in 1880, and was fully restored to its former glory in 2001 with the addition of a medallion and a plaque that was unveiled and inaugurated on 14th October 2001 in the presence of the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, along with several other dignitaries.
Visiting Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris
You will find the Place Denfert-Rochereau along with its other squares, monuments and tourist attractions within the 14th Arrondissement, and as we mentioned earlier, there is the train station serving line B of the RER located right here.
Yet there is also a metro station here called the Denfert-Rochereau stop, which serves lines 4 and 6, plus the bus numbers 38, 68, 88 and 216 will get you close by.