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The Wall of the Ferme générale was commissioned by Antoine Lavoisier and built between 1784 and 1791 by the Ferme générale (General Farm), the corporation of tax farmers. It was one of the several city walls of Paris built between the early Middle Ages and the mid 19th century. It was 24 kilometers long and roughly followed the route now occupied by line 2 and line 6 of the Métro. It crossed the districts of the Place de l'Étoile, Batignolles, Pigalle, Belleville, Nation, the Place d'Italie, Denfert-Rochereau, Montparnasse and the Trocadéro.
Unlike earlier walls, the Farmers-General Wall was not intended to defend Paris from invaders but to enforce the payment of a toll on goods entering Paris ("octroi") to the Ferme générale. The wall's tax-collection function made it very unpopular: a play on words of the time went "Le mur murant Paris rend Paris murmurant" ("The wall walling Paris keeps Paris murmuring") There was also an epigram:
Pour augmenter son numéraire (To increase its cash)
Et raccourcir notre horizon (And to shorten our horizon),
La Ferme a jugé nécessaire (The Ferme générale judges it necessary)
De mettre Paris en prison (To put Paris in prison).
Architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux designed its 62 toll barriers in a neo-classical or even classical style. The architecture of the buildings, "dens of the Tax Department metamorphosed into palaces with columns" according to Louis-Sébastien Mercier, highlighted the oppression which the wall represented for Parisians. The wall was bordered by a boulevards outside and a chemin de ronde (a raised protected walkway) inside, except between the barrière d'Italie (now the Place d'Italie) and the barrière d’Enfer (now the Place Denfert-Rochereau) where Gobelins, Saint-Jacques and d'Enfer replaced the chemin de ronde inside the wall.
In 1787, Loménie de Brienne, Minister for Finance, worried about the very high cost of the construction and considered stopping the work but never actually did so because it was so far advanced.
The toll on goods was abolished on 1 May 1791 in the early stages of the French Revolution, but was restored in 1798 by the French Directory. Public perception of the tolls improved under Napoleon. The majority of the toll barriers were destroyed during the expansion of Paris in 1860. At the same time the octroi that had been collected at the wall was abolished.
Some portions of the wall still exist, such as the rotunda of the Barrier of La Villette (now Place de Stalingrad), the Barrière du Trône (now Place de la Nation), the Barrière d'Enfer (now Place Denfert-Rochereau), and the rotunda of Parc Monceau. The wall itself was replaced by the route of the following streets:
- On the left (south) bank of the Seine from the east: Boulevard Vincent-Auriol, Auguste-Blanqui, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Boulevard Raspail, Boulevard Edgar-Quinet, Boulevard de Vaugirard, Boulevard Pasteur, Boulevard Garibaldi and Boulevard de Grenelle.
- On the right (north) bank, from the west: Rue de l'Alboni, Rue Benjamin-Franklin, Avenue d'Iéna, Avenue Kléber, Rue La Pérouse, Rue de Presbourg, Rue de Tilsitt, Avenue de Wagram, Boulevard de Courcelles, Boulevard des Batignolles, Clichy, Boulevard de Rochechouart, Boulevard de la Chapelle, Boulevard de la Villette, Boulevard de Belleville, Boulevard de Ménilmontant, Boulevard de Charonne, Boulevard de Picpus, Boulevard de Reuilly and Boulevard de Bercy.
- Citizens, Simon Schama, Penguin 1989 p.236
- Solange Marin. "Mur des Fermiers Généraux". Encyclopædia Universalis [online].
- Citizens, Simon Schama, Penguin 1989 p.236
- Valmy-Baysse, Jean (1950). La curieuse aventure des boulevards extérieurs ("The curious adventure of the outer boulevards") (in French). Éditions Albin-Michel.
- Gagneux, Renaud; Prouvost, Denis (2004). Sur les traces des enceintes de Paris. Promenades au long des murs disparus ("Along the walls of Paris. Walking along the lost walls") (in French). Paris: Éditions Parigramme / Compagnie parisienne du livre. ISBN 2-84096-322-1.
- Lazare, Félix and Louis. Dictionnaire administratif et historique des rues de Paris et de ses monuments ("Dictionary of the administration and history of the streets of Paris and its monuments"), 1844-1849 (in French).
- Hillairet, Jacques (1985). Dictionnaire historique des rues de Paris ("Historical dictionary of the streets of Paris" (in French). Les Éditions de Minuit.