Avenue Denfert-Rochereau

Arrondissement 14

Numbers: 65-73, 81, 83, 91

The Rue de l’Enfer (Hell Road) was only given its current name, Avenue Denfert-Rochereau, after the 1878 death of Colonel Pierre Philippe Denfert-Rochereau. This military hero was known as the ‘Lion of Belfort’ for his holding out against the German army in 1870-1871.

The Monastery at Nos. 65-73 originally hosted the end of the Rungis aqueduct that provided the water supply for the Luxembourg Palace – and then for the rest of the area. It was shelled and burnt down on May 23 1871 during the battle of the Communards against the Versaillais troops.

Ledru-Rollin lived at No 81 Rue de l’Enfer in 1848 while he was organising the first elections in France by universal suffrage

While Ledru-Rollin was in exile, another former political prisoner, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, moved in with his family to No. 83 during the 1850s.

Simone de Beauvoir moved from home in 1929 to a small flat at No. 91 owned by her grandmother, initially to escape her all-present mother. She stayed there until 1931 when she moved to teach in Marseille.

In June 1940, after having spent four weeks outside Paris, De Beauvoir returned to stay for a few more months in the flat at No. 91 until the winter got too cold for her. She occupied herself during the day reading Hegel at France’s National Library in the Rue de Richelieu.