The three Dumas

This square in the ‘Quarter of the Monceau Plain’ in Paris is now officially called Place du Général-Catroux after the French five-star General Georges Catroux (1877-1969), who was one of the principal leaders of the Free French forces under General de Gaulle during the Second World War.

Until 1977 the square was officially called Place Malesherbes but was often informally referred to as Place des Trois Dumas (Square of the three Dumas), because of three monuments honoring three generations of the Dumas family.

Monument to Alexandre Dumas (père) by Gustave Doré

The largest of these monuments is this one by Gustave Doré in honor of Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), the author of many books including The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo. From 1866 to 1870 he lived at 107 Boulevard Malesherbes, less than five hundred meters from where his monument now stands.

The Three Musketeers on the Dumas monument

The titles of some of his best-known books are listed on the monument, and I think the three men at his feet are d’Artagnan and the other two musketeers. This author is often referred to as ‘Alexandre Dumas père’ (=father) to distinguish him from his son ‘Alexandre Dumas fils’ (1824-1895), who also became a famous novelist and playwright.

Monument to Alexandre Dumas (fils) by René de Saint-Marceaux

This monument, in another section of the same square, was created in 1906 by the sculptor René de Saint-Marceaux in honor of Alexandre Dumas fils (=son or junior), who lived nearby for thirty-three years, from 1862 until his death in 1895. His house was at 98 Avenue de Villiers, less than nine hundred meters from his monument.

Girl on the Dumas fils monument

In this monument there are several girls dancing (or flying?) around below the author’s chair. I particularly like this one with her feet dangling in the air.

The younger Alexandre Dumas is best known today for his novel and stage play La Dame aux camélias, which became the basis for the world’s most popular opera, La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi.

(In the 2017/2018 season there were 4162 performances of La traviata worldwide, according to the website operabase.com. Second was Bizet’s Carmen with 3524 performances.)

Fers = irons, in honor of Thomas Alexandre Dumas

There used to be a third monument here, showing the revolutionary army general Thomas Alexandre Dumas (1762-1806) leaning on his rifle. He was the father of Alexandre Dumas père and the grandfather of Alexandre Dumas fils. During the Second World War his monument (like many others) was removed by the puppet Vichy regime and melted down for its metal to make armaments for the German army.

As a replacement, the city of Paris commissioned the French sculptor Driss Sans-Arcidet (born 1960) to make this sculpture called Fers (irons), which was inaugurated in 2008. The huge broken chains and irons symbolize the fact that Thomas Alexandre Dumas was born a slave in Haiti, but later rose to become an army general during the French Revolution.

When I took this photo, two lovely girls from the nearby high school were sitting in the back iron eating their lunch. To respect their privacy, I chose an angle where they can’t be seen because they are hidden behind the links of the chain.

Le Café Dumas

At one corner of the square, at the intersection of Avenue de Villiers and Rue Legendre, there is a pleasant café called Le Café Dumas, where I had lunch at one of the outdoor tables.

My photos and text in this post are from 2018.

See also: The island of If (scroll down for
Alexandre Dumas and The Count of Monte Cristo).

6 thoughts on “The three Dumas”

  1. Very interesting read, and I agree with Malcolm about the modern sculpture. I would add that La Dame aux camélias was also adapted as a film, the classic Camille starring Greta Garbo

    1. Yes, that building is now closed but I believe it is being transformed into a museum of economics and money, which is supposed to open in a year or two.

      1. yes when I passed by it the scaffolds were on the side so something is to be done on a historic building; the museum for that sound fitting.

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