Old Québec

Tourists walk on rue du Petit-Champlain in summer.
Jeff Frenette Photography

The streets of the Petit-Champlain district and Place Royale are an invitation to travel back in time to the founding of Québec over 400 years ago. The sense of history in this square is palpable. Nearby street Petit-Champlain will make you feel like you’ve landed in a fairytale. Here are the top things to see and do in Petit-Champlain.

Petit-Champlain Map

Petit-Champlain is snugged along the base of Cap Diamant in Old Québec’s lower town. Close to the banks of the Saint-Lawrence River, and a short walk from the Québec City cruise port, as well as the marina in Old Port.

Place Royale

The site of the First French Settlement in North America is steeped in history. It was here that Samuel de Champlain chose to erect his “Abitation,” which served as a fort, storehouse, trading post, and residence after his arrival in 1608. With its enchanting surroundings, the square feels like a real-life time capsule. Set in the cobblestones of the square, an outline can be seen on the ground near Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, marking the spot of the second habitation of Samuel de Champlain.


Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church

Built in 1688, on the spot where Samuel de Champlain’s first outpost once stood, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is the oldest stone church in North America. The church was nearly destroyed during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. By 1816, however, the church was fully restored. Today, the church is a National Historic Site and remains an important part of Old Québec.

Petit-Champlain Street

This postcard-perfect street, one of the oldest commercial streets in North America, is lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques and restaurants. The Petit-Champlain district isn’t just illuminated for the holidays—it stays decorated all winter long, much to everyone’s delight. It’s the ideal place to bundle up for a winter evening stroll in an enchanting atmosphere straight out of a Christmas fairy tale.

Old Québec Funicular

There are several staircases leading to Petit-Champlain, but you can also get there via the funicular. In operation since 1879, it links Lower Town with the Dufferin Terrace and offers passengers a wonderful view of the neighbourhood and of the St. Lawrence River. The lower entrance to the funicular is located in the home built in 1683 by Louis Jolliet, the man who discovered the Mississippi River.


Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps)

The oldest staircase in Québec City, Escalier Casse-Cou began as a steep path leading from the lower town to the top of Cap Diamant, with stairs being installed around 1680 to make the walk easier. As the gateway to picturesque Petit-Champlain, one of the most beautiful streets in Canada, the stairs are one of the best photographic spots in Québec City.

Petit-Champlain in Christmas

Beautiful in summer, Petit-Champlain transforms into a magical winter wonderland from the end of November to mid-February, with fresh snow clinging to the 18th-century buildings, festive decorations and trees along the cobblestone street. Shop for unique souvenirs created by Québec artisans, visit Santa Claus, listen to carollers, enjoy the outdoor fire pits, and soak in the atmosphere as you experience the living Christmas card that is Petit-Champlain.

Petit-Champlain Boutiques

Petit-Champlain is one of the hottest shopping streets in Québec City, known for its boutiques featuring everything from Québec-made boots and moccasins to sculptures, jewellery, and Québec terroir products. Sample decadent fudge or sweet maple syrup. Shop for clothing made my local designers or fun Québec-branded souvenirs. Meet talented local artists and take a piece of Québec home with you.

French Architecture

The French influence is evident everywhere you look in Place Royale and along Rue du Petit-Champlain. The two—and three—storey plastered stone homes with their dormer windows, gabled roofs, large chimneys and firewalls rising above the rooftops make it hard to believe you’re not in France.

Amazing Murals

Only a few steps from Place Royale, the enormous Fresque des Québécois mural recounts the story of Québec City and pays homage to some fifteen historic figures and various authors and artists. A number of other frescoes dot the city for visitors to admire.

Royal Battery

The Royal Battery (1610), so named in honour of Louis XIV of France, who funded its construction, was part of the city’s defences under the French Regime. The structure helped protect the city during the siege in 1759.


A park named in honour of the UNESCO mission to promote peace and education. Families enjoy the playground sets for kids. Nearby, dates and the names of several founding families from the time of the French colony appear on plaques affixed to some houses.

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