St. Pierre de Montmartre is usually ignored because its neighbor, Sacre Couer, is more famous; however, St. Pierre is much older and has greater history. The church is built on an ancient Roman temple to Mars (Montmartre is originally named after the Mount of Mars) and Roman columns that are possibly from the original temple can still be seen in the current church’s nave. In the third century, Saint Denis founded the first church on this spot, which later was credited (according to the earliest biography of Saint Ignatius Loyola) as the location at which the vows were taken that led to the founding of the Society of Jesus. After destruction during the French Revolution, the church was rebuilt in the 19th century in its current state. Visiting St. Pierre’s today, it’s a lot quieter and less crowded than Sacre Couer. It’s also a lot more manageable in size and well-worth a visit if you are visiting Sacre Couer.
TIP: St. Pierre is on the top of Montmartre, between the more famous destinations of Sacre Couer and Place du Tertre (Dali Museum). If you aren’t fond of climbing, then you can take the little tram that runs up the side of the stairs in front of Sacre Couer to access the top of Montmartre. Also, you could always approach Montmartre from its backside. Get off at the Lamarck Metro stop rather than the more popular Abbesses stop. (Beware of Abbesses station since the climb out of the station is a HUGE trek, alone!) Take Lamarck Street until you see the back of Sacre Couer. You will climb a relatively short set of stairs, past a hidden Montmartre park. This approach is not only less crowded and less demanding on the legs, but it is also beautiful.