Place Royale & Le Petit Champlain, Quebec
Now this is something special: A fresco of Québec City that displays the city's most important sights and people. In 1999, 12 French and Quebecois artists painted a wall of 420 m² to show QC changing through the seasons.Between the different buildings, you can see different personalities of the city:
* Jacques Cartier, an explorer of the New World
* Samuel de Champlain, founder of Québec City
* Comte de Fontenac, general governor of New France
* Marie Guyart, founder of St. Ursuline's monastery
* Louis Jolliet, explorer of the Mississippi river
* and 12 other important persons.
The fresco is great to look at from one of the benches below - watch out for details, it's worth it
"Maybe because we arrived under a bright sun, the first and strongest impression about Quebec was... colours. Either with building details, street animation or even paintings, colours where shining everywhere, contrasting with the grey base of the rocky facades."
I wrote this in a General Tip, but I think that this is also an important "Things to Do" in Quebec, watching the care given to colour expression, that gets its top achievement in the well integrated fresco in the slopes of Frontenac castle.
This church in the Place Royale of the lower city is Quebec city's oldest church and one of the oldest in North America. The church sits in Place Royale on top the sight of Samuel Champlain's original outpost.
The city came up with an absolutely grand idea. A way to clean up an old building, celebrate the rich heritage of the city and attract tourists, all at the same time!
The fresque des Québécois is located at the Sourmande House on Notre Dame street. Done to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city, it portrays some of the city's landmarks, historical persons. If you can find a booklet that tells you in detail what each of the figures are would certainly be helpful, but its a lot of fun to just sit and gaze at the mural and how well it is put together and how many little things about Quebec it shows.
The oldest commercial area in North America !
This is one of the nicest area of town. Pedestrian streets lined up with nice restaurants and shops.
The area was in bad shape until the 70s when the Quebec governement invested public funds to give the area it's old look !
One of the most picturesque streets in North America. When the city was first founded, this was the site of a small path that led to "Champlain's Fountain". Houses were built along this path starting in the 17th century. Over time, the path became a street, and was successively known as rue De Meulles, rue Champlain, Petite rue Champlain and rue du Petit-Champlain.
During the French Regime, craftsmen worked in shops along rue du Petit-Champlain, where they lived with their families. In the 19th century, working-class Irish families, whose major breadwinners worked at the docks or in the ship-building trade, made their homes here. Today, dozens of artists' workshops and boutiques line this historical street.
Close by Petit Champlain, Place Royale is also a must see and really have a feel of 16th century New-France.
A trompe-l'oeil mural measuring 100 square metres (900 square feet)
You don't have to be an artist to appreciate the beauty of this outdoor work of art, located at 102 rue du Petit-Champlain, on the wall of the building owned by the Cooperative des artisans et commercants du Quartier Petit Champlain.
This mural illustrates the origins of the Cap-Blanc neighbourhood, the bombardments in 1759, fires, landslides and other disasters to have befallen Quartier Petit Champlain over the years, as well as the strength and courage of those who built, lived, developed and breathed new life into this part of Quebec City.
See the wonderful interactive explanation on this url: http://www.quartierpetitchamplain.com/eng/quartier_fresque.asp#1
From the Place Royale web site:
Place-Royale was originally built by Samuel de Champlain as a fort and a trading post. Place Royale's rich history has always had it's roots in trade.
The Vieux-Port (Old Port) area adjacent to Place-Royale was one of the four largest ports in North America till the end of the 19th Century when the St-Lawrence river was dredged to allow year-round access to Montreal.
The area is situated on the banks of the St-Lawrence River with spectacular views of the Upper-Town. The funicular allows easy access to the upper part of the city. On Place-Royale you will find the fresque des Quebecois and the oldest church North of Mexico.
Place-Royale and the Old- Port abounds with boutiques, restaurants, antique stores, art galleries, comfortable and luxurious hotels and Craftspeople.
Whether you are looking for gourmet dinning or a cafe terrace to relax and have a drink or that special item to take home, you will find everything you want in this area.
Place Royale/Old-Port has many activities throughout year. During the month of August the sector returns to the days of Quebec’s foundation with Les fetes de la Nouvelle- France. During the month of December Christmas time in Quebec fills the streets with carolers, and lots of other holiday-spirited events. January and Febuary is when the Québec winter Carnaval takes over the city. A comprehensive list of activities sponsored by the Musée de la civilization and other information on PLACE ROYALE is a must before planning your vacation.
This church is one of the oldest in Quebec (and North America), it was built in 1688. Mass are still held every Sunday.
See my travelogues for pictures of the church interior
BIRTH PLACE OF FRENCH AMERICA
From trading post to marketplace
In 1608, Samuel de Champlain began to construct a fortified post for the fur trade with the Native peoples.
In 1629, the post fell into the hands of English merchants, only to be returned to French control three years later.
But two years later, fire destroyed 55 houses. With reconstruction came new efforts at fire protection. New building standards gave rise to the urban architecture that is typical of Place-Royale: tall stone buildings, separated by fire-resistant walls, with no outside decoration of wood.
Place-Royale, then called "market square", was above all the centre of trade in New France. From 1633, when hundreds of Amerindians came to a major fur fair, until 1759, the square was a hub of activity. All European imports were brought ashore and all exports were loaded aboard at Québec City.
The turning point
It did not take France and England long to bring their quarrels to North America, and they vied for the control of Québec City. In 1690, the canons of the Lower Town were enough to send the fleet of Admiral Phipps into a retreat. But in 1759, 40 000 canon balls and 10 000 fire bombs from English artillery rained on the Lower Town for three months. Only charred walls remained.
But the change of regime did not fundamentally change life in Place-Royale. It soon rose from its ashes.
Decline and rebirth
Decline set in around 1860. Place-Royale, which returned to being a simple marketplace. By 1950, it was nothing but an impoverished, run-down area. Ten years later, the government embarked on a program to restore Place-Royale, which, in fifteen years, turned it into one of the capital's attractions.
Le Petit Champlain is known as the oldest shopping district in North America. It is probably the most charming area of the city, but unfortunately, some visitors miss it altogether since they don't know about this little gem located at the foot of Cap Diamant, below the Terasse Dufferin. Some of the buildings in this area date back to the 17th century and have been beautifully restored, in keeping with their humble New France origins. They are now filled with specialty shops that are quite popular with locals and tourists alike since they are in general less tacky than some of the stores located up on rue St-Jean. You'll also find some of Quebec City's best restaurants in this area - just make sure to make a reservation as most restaurants fill up very fast, especially when cruise ships arrive.
Place Royale, located in the Bas Ville, is the site of Samuel de Champlain's original settlement.
Many buildings in this area are from the 1600s and near the Quebec City Mural are some exposed walls from the original settlement.
Technically, Place Royale refers to the large square, site of the original market. L'Eglise de Notre Dame faces out onto the square. Nowadays, however, the name also applies to the entire area of historic houses (most were rebuilt after a fire in 1682).
Place royale is the centerpiece of Quebec's old town. dating back more than 400 years, the site is home to the first french settlement on the North American continent. the place royale represents what would be the marketplace during the early years. The cobblestone streets, the beautiful fountain and the gorgeous church all add to the ambience of the place royale. any trip to quebec city would nt be complete without seeing it for yourself.
Said to be the oldest commercial district in North America and named after Quebec City founder Samuel de Champlain is a highlite of old town. The narrow street is home to such a rich character and aesthetically pleasing design, you'll be tempted to visit each and every store allong the way just to spend more time there. Starting in Old Quebec at Break Neck stairs, Quartier Petit Champlain is the perfect place to buy souvenirs or to relax at a cafe and enjoy the atmosphere.
This particular mural is painted on the side of a 5 story building and as you enter the old town. It is very realistic looking and really blends into the buildings that surround it due to its style and depth. The people that populate the mural are all famous figures relating to Quebec City but are too numerous to mention. This is one of the more famous murals in the city however there are countless more very detailed and impressive murals around the city on the sides of buildings and on overpass supports.
Place Royale is a small square in the centre of the lower town of Old Quebec. It is surrounded by small shops and restaurants, which used to be homes in the early part of Quebec's history, and the Our Lady of Victory Church. The square was very near to my hotel, and I walked through it every day I was there, many times. It is bustling with people and a nice place to take a break, have a seat and people watch, or as part of a nice stroll. There is a bust of Louis XIV in the centre of the cobblestone setting.
Let's be honest, most of the beauty of a vacation to Quebec City is walking along the old town, looking at the close buildings, browsing in the boutiques, and eating. No trip would be complete without spending some time at the pedestrian-friendly lower town, complete with antiques districts and shops.
Reconstructed in the 70s to celebrate the French Heritage of the region, access to lower town is accomplished through stairs from the Dufferin Terrace (the "breakneck" stairs), the Funicular, or by wandering down some steep roads.