Place Royale & Le Petit Champlain, Quebec
The lower old town is where Québec City's history started. 400 years ago, this was the place where Samuel de Champlain settled, to be specific where today's Place Royal is situated. Nowadays, the area is full of restaurants and souvenir shops, but very pleasant to walk around in. Furthermore, there's the above mentioned fresco of Québec City which allows you to discover many facets of the city. When climbing down the steep stairs to Petit Champlain, you might be reminded of Montmartre in Paris. It is here, where the city comes closest to its nickname Petit Paris.
Located in the Place Royale in Lower Town, the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victory Church) is the oldest church in Quebec, built in 1688 on the site of Samuel Champlain's 1st residence. Champlain was the Father of New France and founder of Quebec City. The name of the church comes from the French victories over the British in 1690 and in 1711.
Admission is free, go inside to see the scale model suspended from the ceiling of Le Breze, the ship that transported French soldiers to New France in 1664 to fight the Iroquis. The paintings throughout the interior are all copies.
Located in the Lower Town, the Place Royale was once home to wealthy merchants until they figured out that safer quarters from British attacks could be found in Upper Town. After the French fell to the British in 1759, the Place Royale flourished again with shipbuilding, logging, fishing and fur trading.
The cobblestoned square takes it name from the bust of Louis XIV that was put in the center of the square in 1686. The current bust is a reproduction of the Bernini original which can be found at the Palace of Versailles.
Things to see in the Place Royale:
-Fresque des Quebecois-a mural depicting 400 years of Quebec's history, the the east of the square
-bust of Louis XIV
-Eglise Notre-Dames-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victory Church)-see separate tip
I suppose the name "Breakneck Stairs" is self-explanatory, fall down the stairs and break your neck. This is one of two ways to get from the upper town to the lower town, the other is a funicular, both of which arrive at the intersection of rues Petit-Champlain and Sous-le-Fort.
Have a look around. Go to Place Royale where it all started. Just off place Royale you can find this painting on a building's wall. It represents the four seasons in Quebec City and contains lots of historical people. Try to guess who is who ;-)
Place Royale is where it all began! When Samuel de Champlain arrived in America in 1608, he decided to build the first house in New France where Place Royale now sits (if you look on the pavement near the church, you'll see the outlines of where his house used to be). Soon enough, the area around Champlain's house became the marketplace and when a bust of King Louis XIV was erected in the middle of it in 1686, it became known as Place Royale. As you walk through the streets surrounding Place Royale, 400 years of history come to life before your very eyes - just think of Rue St-Pierre, which used to be Quebec City's Wall Street!
All summer long, it is possible to go on a free guided tour of Place Royale. Tours start at the "Centre d'interpretation de Place Royale", at 27 Notre-Dame Street. Tours last about 45 minutes and will help you get better acquainted with the history of the city and life in New France.
Also, don't forget to walk into Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America (built in 1688). Movie buffs might also recognize the church and its surroundings from a few scenes from the Steven Spielberg movie "Catch me if you can", starring Leornardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks. The scenes towards the end of the movie when the characters are supposed to be in France were actually shot at Place Royale.
Quebec City is slowly becoming known for its outdoor frescoes.
My favourite, the Fresque du Petit-Champlain, can be found in the Petit-Champlain sector of town. Inaugurated in 2001, it depicts the major characters and events of Cap-Blanc, the harbour district that was amalgamated into Quebec City in the 19th century. It is a fitting addition to the Petit-Champlain Street, which has become a pedestrian shopping avenue with many unique art boutiques and restaurants.
The Fresque des Quebecois, completed in 1999, has managed to squeeze four centuries of history into 420 square metres. It is full of historical and cultural Quebec symbols. As well as the four seasons, fifteen of the most famous people in the history of Quebec are depicted -- if you travel to Quebec City for its culture, a fitting end to your trip could be to see how many of them you can identify!
A more recent fresco, completed in 2003, is called the Fresque de l'Hotel-Dieu. To fully understand its meaning, you must know that the Hotel-Dieu is the oldest hospital in North America (1639). In fact, the fresco was painted on the walls of the Hotel-Dieu teaching facility; it shows the evolution of medicine since the colonization era.
One can only hope that this trend catches on. The frescoes, which have become a huge draw, complement the old town very well.
This place is half a (free) museum, half a shop, which makes it very interesting. You can visit the workshop of the glass blower and see how it all is done. Afterwards you can visit the gallery-boutique: many glass objects are for sale at reasonable prices. And you don't have to buy if you don't want to - feel free to admire the art!
This is the oldest stone church in North America. Originally built in 1688, the church was restored twice. The first time it was destroyed by shellfire in 1759. Inside is a quaint little church. Of particular interest is a scale model suspended in the nave that depicts the vessel "Le Breze", which transported the commander Marquis de Tracy and soldiers of the Carignan Regiment to New France in 1664.
The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church is located in Place-Toyale, the birthplace of French civilization in North America. It is visited by thousands of visitors from all over the world.
The Church is erected on the site of the first Quebec establishment "l'Abitation" built by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. In the church basement, a wall of the shop is still visible, and archaeological digs have uncovered in the church facade, one of the shop's angled turrets. To evoke these remains, the pavement, executed in 1990 shows a plan of the walls and turret which were unearthed and are preserved in the basement.
Guided tours from May to October (reservations required off-season)
At the bottom of the Funiculaire,(see other tip) if yuu turn right, down a little narrow street you can see quaint shops.
This particular shop was showing it's wares in the windows, both upstairs and downstairs. A novel selling idea. !
People love to complain. I heard it a million times prior to my visit, and I heard a million plus times during my visit to Quebec. "Oh...the stairs, I'm so tired of 'em!" I just don't get it. The stairs were so easily managable, not tiring what-so-ever. I came to expecting a climb that would tighten my calfs to just before the bursting point, with all the warnings I have read. Here's a couple reasons one might complain.
1- Robust Hiney- I guess if you had to carry a large sack of mail behind you everywhere you went this could hamper you. Bring a wheel barrow.
2- Eyeless or wearing pitch black glasses- Walking up a staircase in complete darkness I have strived for the extra step that just wasn't there.
3- Still in a food coma.
The stairs bring you from the upper walled city to Basseville, the old lower port section.
Rue de Petit Champlain is famous as the oldest street in North America. It is full of restaurants, cafes, shops and tourists. It is located in the Old Port area of Quebec, just below the front of the Chateau Frontenac.
When visiting this quaint area, you will feel like you've gone back in time several hundred years as you look at the cobblestone streets & old buildings. You will see people dressed in old-style clothing as they make pottery and other crafts. There is a great mural at 102 rue du Petit-Champlain depicting many of the old craftsmen at work in the area.
Life in Quartier Petit Champlain captured in a magnificent mural. You can find this mural at the end of Petit Champlain. It is very nice obviously and adds to the walking experience in old Quebec.
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 Coopérative des artisans et commerçants 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.
For a full indepth interpretation of this mural you can visit the web site I provided. Cheers :-)
Here is the history of Place Royal. This is a historically significant district in Quebec and today there are many great bistros and art galleries in the area. You will without a doubt discover this area :-)
Place Royale is the birthplace of French civilization in North America. Samuel de Champlain began construction of his fortified "abitation" at the foot of Cap Diamant, in 1608. This is the first permanent establishment in New France. Rich merchants settle here and lively business develops in the area. In 1686, a bust to the glory of Louis XIV is erected. Place du Marché becomes place Royale.
Wars between France and England reach out as far as New France. Québec occupation by the English occurs for the first time from 1629 to 1632. In 1690, the place Royale cannon play a decisive role in turning back Admiral Phipps' fleet. In 1759 however, French resistance is overwhelmed by cannon ball and fire bombs. The Conquest begins.
Under the British Regime, Place Royale, with its merchants, shipowners and shipbuilders continues its leading commercial role and remains the centre of business. By 1860, the situation is one of decline. Place Royale regresses into a mere, stagnating place du Marché. By 1950, the area has become poor and rundown.
Place Royale is one of the oldest settlements on the North American continent. The architecture and narrow streets bring back four centuries of history. Place Royale is bustling in summertime. This is where you will discover l'église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (church), only a few steps away from boutiques, restaurants, maison Fornel with its exhibitions and the Place-Royale interpretation centre.