It all began in place Royale, the birthplace of French civilization in North America.
In 1608, Samuel de Champlain chose this site for his fortified “abitation,” New France's first permanent settlement. Rich traders set up shop there, and with the erection of a bust of Louis XIV, the market square became place Royale.
Even today, characters in period costume are a regular sight, especially during the New France Festival.
There is something magical about place Royale whatever the time of year. Be sure to visit the church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, an official historic site. Construction on the church began in 1687 on the site of Champlain's first residence, making this the second oldest church in the Americas north of Mexico. A castle-shaped altar shows how people saw the city at the time.
Place de Paris
In place de Paris stands the celebrated sculpture, Dialogue avec l'histoire, a gift from Paris to Québec. Over twenty years later, people are still talking about it.
The square is surrounded by striking architectural features, including pretty shutters, roofs typical of different historical periods, and the rooftop ladders once used by chimney sweeps. Today they are used by snow removal teams in winter.
Steps away, the Québec–Lévis ferry is a popular and inexpensive way to admire the city from the river.
Every year, thousands of cruise ship passengers who call at Pointe-à-Carcy are thrilled by the stunning view that embraces Château Frontenac, the city's fortifications, the Petit Champlain district, and the Old Port.
Equally popular with the locals (who never tire of looking out over the busy river with its sailboats, jet-skis, cargo ships, and ferries), this is a great place for a stroll.
Stop by and watch the pleasure boats going in and out of the lock at the entrance to Bassin Louise.
Place D'Youville is one of the city's most popular squares. All roads seem to lead to this urban hub in front of porte Saint-Jean.
Until 1931 the square was the site of a public market. Today it rocks to music and festivals in summer and the Carnival and its skating rink in winter.
It is the home of Palais Montcalm and Capitole de Québec, two major performance venues.
With its restaurants, hotels and nearby rue Saint-Jean, which is closed to traffic at certain times in summer, it's a great place to kick back.
Promenade des Gouverneurs
Promenade des Gouverneurs runs along the Citadel and leads to Battlefields Park, also known as the Plains of Abraham.
Named in honor of Governor General Lord Dufferin, it forms an extension of Dufferin Terrace in front of the Château Frontenac.
Avid walkers of all stripes as well as amateur photographers seeking striking pictures of the river and surrounding area won't be off by the many stairs along this multi-level walkway; the unforgettable panoramas they experience along the way are ample reward for all the effort.
Promenade Samuel-De Champlain
Inaugurated for Québec City's 400th anniversary, Promenade Samuel-De Champlain runs along a 2.5-kilometer stretch of St. Lawrence River shoreline between the Québec Bridge and côte de Sillery.
A number of attractions are found along this magnificent walkway and bike path, including Station de Cageux with its wharf, Station des Sports with its soccer fields, Station des Quais with its four gardens, and the historic Tequenonday woodland.
On foot or by inline skates or bike—any way is a great way to enjoy a breath of fresh air on the promenade, which has won several urban architecture prizes.
Parc de la plage Jacques-Cartier
Looking for a nice spot for a stroll, or in the mood to just gaze out over the water? Parc de la plage Jacques-Cartier is the place for you.
Reserved for pedestrians only, this linear park features exceptional scenery and one of the best views of the two bridges spanning the river. Bring a picnic; tables are available.
Under the French regime, Place d'Armes was known as the Grand Square, the prime location for military parades and public speeches.
The square, near rue du Trésor, houses the fountain known as Monument de la Foi (Monument to the Faith).