Last Updated on 14th September 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Nestled between two quaint cafés in the very heart of Montmartre, somewhere between the Sacré Coeur and La Maison Rose you’ll find it. The oldest street in Paris. This small and cobbled lane leads towards the Sacré-Coeur Basilica and just happens to be the most ancient road in all of Montmartre. Its name is Rue Saint-Rustique and it’s here where you’ll find a glimpse of vintage 18th arrondissement…
Rue Saint-Rustique: A Glimpse of Village Life in Montmartre
Once upon a time, Montmartre was a village in its own rights. Situated on a hill above the sprawling streets of Paris below, the ‘butte’ (or ‘hill’ as it’s known in English) was populated by windmills, vineyards, and farmland. However, all this changed over the centuries as Paris spread and Montmartre was incorporated into the fabric of the city itself.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the lost and secret villages of Paris, then a few still survive to this day and can be seen if only you know where to look. Small pockets of tranquility can be found in quiet locations across the French capital, notably in the 14th arrondissement.
During the 15th-century, nearby Rue Norvins was one of the main streets winding its way through the 18th. An offshoot of this road was Rue Saint-Rustique, though at this time it was known as Rue Notre-Dame. The road is today named so because it’s very close to the spot where Saint Denis was allegedly martyred together with his companions Saint Rustique and Saint-Eleuthère.
During the 1970s, the street was officially designated a pedestrian walkway, making it the first road of its kind. Today, on the corner of where the historic coffee house of Le Consulat meets the typically French bistro of La Bonne Franquette, you’ll find the narrow passageway.
So take your time to savour the sights and sounds of this living slice of Parisian history. Wander along the cobbled lane for yourself and imagine how Montmartre must have been in the past and if you want even more historical sights, then make sure to take yourself on this free and self-guided walking tour of Montmartre.
Who was Saint Rustique?
Saint Rustique was a martyr who is alleged to have been a companion of Saint-Denis. He is said to have been decapitated atop of the Butte Montmartre and is now a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Saint-Rustique is celebrated on the 9th of October, together with Saint-Denis.
For those unfamiliar with Christianity, Saint-Denis was the first bishop of Paris. Originally hailing from Rome (or so it’s believed since there are little concrete facts pertaining to Saint-Denis’ life), he founded several churches in modern-day France, though during antiquity this area of the country was known as Gaul.