Place d’Italie

Arrondissement 13

La Place Emile Duval

The metro station and huge roundabout at the Place d’Italie

The present Place d’Italie stands on the site of two tax collectors’ buildings on the Farmers’ General tax wall built from 1784 to 1791 to increase the tax collectors’ incomes. One of them was burnt down in 1789.

The Fontainebleau gate was the one through which Napoléon Bonaparte  reentered Paris on 21 March 1815 after his return from Elba.

On the 23 June 1848 the first of hundreds of barricades were erected by workers in an insurrection that divided Paris between its wealthier West and its impoverished East.

The Place d’Italie was completed by Haussmann in 1865, leaving the two Farmers’ General tax pavillions in place. A huge barricade was built between them in 871.

At the Place d’Italie, known then as the Fontainbleau barrière barricade was built between the old toll buildings – shown still standing in this 1865 picture. The one on the left was used as the 13th arrondissement town hall from 1860 until 1873 when it was demolished and rebuilt on a much grander scale.

The barricade blocked the principal entrance to Paris from the South.  An army general was killed by the workers as he was attempting to persuade them to surrender. Many of its defenders were then among the estimated 3,000-5,000 workers massacred.

In October 1870, when Thiers began negotiating the surrender of Paris with Bismarck, the town hall was occupied by soldiers of the 101st battalion of the National Guard, who hoisted a red flag over the building.

On April 17 1871 the Paris Commune renamed it La Place Emile Duval after the 31-year-old revolutionary socialist who was captured and shot without trial by the Versaillais on April 4.

The 2016 unofficial renaming of Place d’Italie with the name it was given during the Commune

During the ‘bloody week’ of May 1871 when the Paris Commune was brutally suppressed the barricades here held out until surrounded on all sides. Finally, they succumbed to machine gun fire. A renaming event in honour of all those killed here took place in 2016.

A Café on the Place d’Italie was where Brassai took this picture showing a wonderfully happy woman and a calculating man in 1932

Hazan (IOP) tells the story of the surrealist Brassai’s 1932 photo taken here and ‘titled with a certain cruelty A Pair of Lovers in a Small Paris Café’.

It was the Place d’Italie, too, where Hazan (WTP) records the sculptor Giacometti as being knocked down by a car and being left with a limp for the rest of his life.