, previously known as Place d'Enfer, is a public square located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris
, in the Montparnasse
district, at the intersection of the boulevards Raspail, Arago, and Saint-Jacques, and the avenues René Coty, Général Leclerc, and Denfert-Rochereau(fr), as well as the streets Froidevaux, Victor-Considérant and de Grancey. It is one the largest and most important squares on the left bank of the Seine.
The square is named after Pierre Denfert-Rochereau, the French commander who organized the defense at the siege of Belfort
during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). It is dominated by the Lion of Belfort statue (a smaller version of the original in the town of Belfort) by Frédéric Bartholdi. The square is the location of the Paris Catacombs museum. It is frequently the place where demonstrations and protest marches in Paris either start or end. The square is also the place depicted on the backdrop at the beginning of the third act of La Bohème by Puccini.
Places of Interest :
The main square, Place Denfert-Rochereau, is planted with trees, mostly chestnuts, maples, and locusts, and there are three named green spaces within it as well: Square Abbé Migne, Square Jacques Antoine, and Square Claude Nicolas Ledoux. At the Center
of the square, in the midst of the traffic circulation, is a one-third-scale replica of the Lion of Belfort statue by Bartholdi, symbolizing the courage of the resistance raised by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau at Belfort. In the garden to one side is a monument by Jean Boucher commemorating Ludovic Trarieux.
The entrance to the catacombs is located next to a handsome stone building with three romanesque arches across its facade, on the odd-numbered side of Avenue du Colonel-Henri-Rol-Tanguy (a street, one block in length, that hardly qualifies as an avenue.) This entrance is directly across the street from an identical even-numbered building that houses the Directorate of Roads and Transport (Direction de la Voirie et des Déplacements). These two buildings, classified as historical monuments, are the pavilions of the old Barrière d'Enfer, where taxes were collected on goods entering Paris.
They are built to the design of the 19th-century architect, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, whose work can be found all over the city. This part of the square has enveloped the site of the Barrière d'Enfer, as well as part of the boulevards d'Enfer and Saint-Jacques, and a part of the boulevards Montrouge
, roads which, at one time, led to those two southern suburbs but no longer exist.