Legendary Place Royale 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 when he arrived in 1608. It was the first permanent French settlement in North America. Place Royale is also home to Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America, built in 1688.
The French influence is evident everywhere you look in Place Royale and along Rue du Petit-Champlain, one of the oldest commercial streets in North America. The two- and three-storey plastered stone homes with their dormer windows, gabled roofs, large chimneys and party walls rising above the rooftops to act as firewalls are all typical of the French architectural style of the time.
Only a few steps from Place Royale and the Musée de la civilisation, on Côte de la Montagne, 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 frescos dot the city for visitors to admire.
Located at the foot of Cap Diamant, in Lower Town, the Petit-Champlain district can be reached via Escalier Casse-Cou (the Breakneck Stairs) or Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec. The stairs, the oldest in the city, owe their name to their steep rise. They connect to the upper end of Rue du Petit-Champlain. The funicular, which has linked Lower Town to the Dufferin Terrace for over a hundred years, offers breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River. The lower entrance is inside Maison Louis-Jolliet, the one-time residence of the man who discovered the Mississippi River.
Rue du Petit-Champlain was voted Canada’s most beautiful street for its charm, authenticity, historic cachet, and emphasis on local culture. – 2014, Canadian Institute of Planners