Known as the birthplace of French America, Place Royale is a historic plaza in Quebec’s picturesque Lower Town and is one of the city’s most popular cultural hotspots. Whether you come to soak up the history, revel in the culture or to view the quaint yet stunning Notre-Dame-des-Victories Church, Place Royale has something for everyone.
The old-world cobblestone square is located in the historic district of Old Quebec (Vieux Quebec) and is surrounded by the rue Saint-Pierre, Cote de la Montagne and rue du Petit Champlain Street.
While the charming square may be small, it has a long and intriguing history. The first French settlement in America began in Place Royale in 1608 when Samuel de Champlain chose to build a fortified trading post on the site. The area soon became a thriving commercial marketplace where exports and European imports flourished.
Sadly, Place Royale was devastated during the Battle of Quebec in 1759, but later grew again into a bustling hub of activity and remained that way for most of the early-1800s. During the late-1800s the area fell into a decline and many of the buildings deteriorated. It wasn’t until the 1960s when the buildings were restored and the square was transformed into the attraction it is today.
As the site of the largest collection of surviving 17th- and 18th-century buildings in North America, there are many architectural highlights to look out for when visiting Place Royale.
The picture-perfect Notre-Dame-des-Victories is one of the oldest churches in North America with an aged stone facade and impressive altar. The Notre-Dame-des-Victories now houses splendid artworks, votive offerings and continues the tradition of blessings on the feast day of its patron saint St. Genevieve.
Another highlight of the plaza is the Musee de la place Royale, a museum of exhibits and multimedia shows depicting the history of New France and Place Royale. Once you’ve had your fix of the square’s impressive history and architecture, take some time to relax at one of the many restaurants and shop at boutiques dotted around the square.