8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lower Town, Québec City
Wedged between the St. Lawrence River and towering cliffs, Lower Town is the site of the original Québec City settlement. Narrow streets and tightly packed stone buildings define the low-lying neighborhood. Many tourist attractions are located in Lower Town, most with a tie to the early days of New France. Above Lower Town (or Basse-Ville), Upper Town sits atop 100-meter cliffs and originally grew up to accommodate the government and military barracks. Steep staircases, a few streets, and the Funiculaire connect the lower and upper sections of the city.
1 Quartier Petit-Champlain
The delightful Quartier Petit-Champlain, located at the foot of the steps leading to Québec's Upper Town, is nowadays much favored by artists, craftspeople, and restaurateurs. The narrow streets combined with old architecture make this one of the most scenic areas of Old Québec.
Artisan shops sell handmade souvenirs, First Nations leather goods, and furs. In addition to the numerous boutiques of Quartier Petit-Champlain, there are a variety of bistros and other eating establishments. Also, look for a large trompe-l'oeil mural that gives a glimpse into the city's history.
2 Québec-Levis Ferry
This ferry service provides a practical connection between Québec City and Levis, just across the St. Lawrence River. But it also offers fantastic, inexpensive sightseeing with a lovely view of the skyline. Plan to hop aboard at dusk to see Château Frontenac and the rest of the city illuminated. The boat departs from the waterfront near Place Royale and Quartier Petit-Champlain.
3 Musée de la Civilization
The Musée de la Civilisation in Québec City is a three-part institution, with the Musée de l'Amérique Francophone in Upper Town, a main museum in the Old Port, and another on Place Royale. The latter two are in Basse-Ville. Built to designs by the well-known architect Moshe Safdie, the central museum is of great architectural interest. The permanent collection draws from civilizations around the world, as well as exploring the Québec experience. The Place Royale museum is just steps from where Samuel de Champlain founded Québec, the first permanent French settlement in North America.
Address: 85 Rue Dalhousie, Québec City
Place Royale, the nucleus from which Québec City developed, has undergone exceptionally sensitive restoration. It stands on the site of Québec's actual foundation, the spot where, in 1608, Samuel de Champlain erected his first "habitation", a farm and storage shed. Named in honor of Louis XIV whose bust adorns it, Place Royale is the largest surviving ensemble of 17th and 18th century buildings in North America. The pretty stone church Notre-Dame des Victoires faces the square, along with Maison Chevalier of the Musée de la Civilisation. Adjacent to Place Royale, facing out over the river and encircled by stout walls and palisades, the little Batterie Royale was constructed in 1691.
5 Vieux Port
The 19th century Old Port (Vieux Port) in Québec is a national historic site and was once a hive of commercial activity centered on Bassin Louise. The 19th century is brought vividly to life again in the Center d'Interprétation and through the visually stunning projections and soundtrack of the Image Mill (Le Moulin à images) during summer. Also on the waterfront, the daily Marché du Vieux-Port is a public market with everything from local farm produce to bicycle rentals.
6 Notre-Dame des Victoires
One of the most lovingly restored buildings on Place Royale is the little church of Notre-Dame des Victoires (1688). The name evokes so much in the city's history, including failed British sieges in 1690 and 1711. A replica wooden ship, the Brézé, hangs from the church ceiling.
Address: 32 Rue Sous le Fort, Québec City
The hilly geography in Québec City has always presented a city-planning problem. Only a couple of streets, steep staircases, and the Funiculaire connect the lower and upper sections of town. Running since 1879, this tram runs uphill at a 45-degree angle from Quartier Petit-Champlain to Château Frontenac. Curious visitors and weary walkers go along for the ride.
Address: 16 Petit-Champlain, Québec City
8 Gare du Palais
Near Palais de Justice, Québec's main railway and bus station was rebuilt a number of years ago and has a distinct Château-like architectural style. It is located near Bassin Louise, and walking distance from the Image Mill projections and Marché du Vieux-Port in the Old Port historic area.
Address: 450 Rue de la Gare du Palais, Québec City