The foundations for Québec were laid where a bustling square now stands. Visit museums, cafés and one of the oldest churches in North America.
Québec’s first foundations were laid where the famous Place-Royale now stands. Today buildings that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries surround the cobblestone square, but the history of the area goes back much earlier. The first French settlement in America began here in 1608.
Place-Royale was the hub of daily and business life in Québec city for more than two centuries. Markets were held, business deals were made and prisoners were even executed here until the 1880s, when the buildings in the square deteriorated and activity moved elsewhere. Many of the structures were restored between the 1960s and 1980s.
The plaza was named in honour of King Louis XIV and a bust of the French royal decorates the square. What you see today is a 1920s replica of the original bronze statue that was removed in 1700 and then went missing.
The Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is the most prominent building in the Place-Royale. It was built on top of the very first settlement in Québec and houses beautiful artworks and an impressive altar that’s shaped like a fortress.
Visit the Centre d’interprétation de Place-Royale. The centre is run by the Museum of Civilization and lies on the site of an archaeological dig. See 5,000-year-old artefacts and watch a 3-D movie about the city’s founder, Samuel de Champlain.
Behind the plaza along the Rue du Marché-Champlain lies the Chevalier House, once known as The London Coffee House. The former inn hosted merchants and naval officers that passed through the busy port. Today, the 18th-century building houses a free museum with artefacts from the Museum of Civilization and displays about Québec’s architecture.
Stop in one of the many cosy cafés and restaurants that line the narrow cobblestone streets that lead off from the square.
Place-Royale lies in the Lower Town, not far from the Old Port and cable railway. Buses service the area and there is parking nearby for a fee.