7 Best Places to Explore in Old Quebec’s Lower Town

Chateau Frontenac. Walking tour of Old Quebec's Lower Town.
If possible, stay at le Chateau Frontenac in the heart of Old Quebec’s Upper Town. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Located in the Quebec province in northeast Canada, its namesake city is the best example of a fortified walled city in North America.Old Quebec is divided into two parts, the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Here’s the best seven places to discover in Lower Town on your getaway with this walking tour of Old Quebec’s Lower Town.

History of Quebec City

Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded by the French explorer Samuel Champlain in 1608, after the first French settlement on North America ran into difficulties in 1604. Champlain explored the St. Lawrence River and continued to the Great Lakes region. He governed New France (the Quebec province) until his death and considered the Father of this area.

Champlain established and built the Saint-Louis Fort and the Ramparts of Quebec starting in 1620. The fortified walls are still intact and also a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Carful of Kids in Quebec City
The oldest house in Quebec City, Maison Jacquet, was built in 1677. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Walking Tour of Old Quebec’s Lower Town

Breakneck Stairs

Rue du Petit Champlain

Place Royale

Murals of Lower Town

Musée de la Civilisation

Royal Battery

St. Lawrence Cruise

Old Quebec Funicular

Breakneck Stairs

Walk down the L’Escalier du Casse Cou, or Breakneck Stairs, from Upper Town of Old Quebec. At the bottom of the stairs is the next point of interest.

Rue de Petit Champlain. Walking tour of Old Quebec's Lower Town.
A walk down Rue du Petit Champlain is a must for Lower Town with shopping and dining. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Rue du Petit Champlain

As a pedestrian walkway, it’s the main thoroughfare in Old Quebec’s Lower Town. With quaint shops on both sides, a whole afternoon could be spent on Rue du Petit Champlain.

Palace Royal. Walking tour of Old Quebec's Lower Town.
The Palace Royal is the original marketplace for Old Quebec and is another charming spot. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Place Royale

Walk through the Place Royale, the original marketplace of the colony of New France. It’s where Samuel Champlain founded the settlement in 1608. Across the square is the oldest stone church in North America, Notre Dame des Victoires Church built in 1688.

Murals. Walking Tour of Old Quebec's Lower Town.
Walk by the Fresque des Quebecois in Lower Town. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Murals in Lower Town

Old Quebec boasts two murals on the buildings in Lower Town.

Walk down Place Royale’s Côte de la Montagne to see the Fresque des Québécois with 15 historic figures and close to a dozen of Quebec’s writers and artists. Then find the Fresque du Petit-Champlain, near the Breakneck Stairs, to see life in the working-class waterfront neighborhood years ago.

Visit the Musee de la Civilization for more about the French history of early Quebec. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Musée de la Civilisation

Learn more about New France and the French Colony of the 1600s with artifacts discovered in three archeological digs.

Located at 2 Côte de la Fabrique and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission for adults is $17CAN, young adults (18 to 30), $11CAN and youth ( 6 to 12) $6 and free for kids under 12.

Royal Battery. Walking Tour of Old Quebec's Lower Town.
Still standing on the waterfront, find the cannons at the Royal Battery. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Royal Battery

Walk by the Royal Battery from 1691 until the British overtook it in 1759. It’s a coastal battery located on the waterfront and housed 10 cannons.

Take a Riverboat Cruise

Looking for a unique way to explore Old Quebec, then boardAML Louis-Jollietfor a riverboat tour and buffet. The riverboat departs from theChouinard Pierand cruises north on theSt. Lawrence River.

Float pass theMontmorency Fallsto theL’Iled’Orleans Bridge,before heading back. The St. Lawrence River is a major commercial shipping route for eastern Canadian though scenic enough for cruise ships as well.

2018 Brunch Cruise admission is $59.95CAN for adults (13+), and $32.95CAN for kids 6 to 12 and free for kids under 5. Scenic cruise admission is $34.99CAN for adults (13+) and $19.99/CAN for kids 6 to 12 and free for kids under 5.

Old Quebec Funicular

Though the stairs are free, have some fun and take a cable railway that links the Upper Town to Lower Town. Opening in 1879, it offers an alternative to the Breakneck Stairs to Le Petit Champlain.

Open everyday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and admission is $3.00 CAN per person, one way.

Try a Canadian original, the Beavertail, a fried dough pastry topped with yummies. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Foodie Must Haves in Quebec City

Take the opportunity to sample some local Canadian delicacies.

Beavertails–First served in Ottawa in 1978, sample fried dough pastry with a choice of toppings, like whipped cream, bananas or chocolate hazelnut.

Sugar Shack–Visit a cabanes à sucre, likele Chemin du Roy, a traditional sugar shack, located in a maple forest outside of Quebec. Since 72% of the world’s maple syrup is made in Quebec it’s a must.

The traditional menu features maple-smoked ham, baked beans, country bread with split pea soup and several traditional Quebecois dishes.To finish off the experience, servers bring out pancakes and maple syrup of course.Sample maple taffy, maple syrupdrizzled onto snow.

Poutine–The national dish of Canada that originates from the 1950s. Starts with a dish of French fries covered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds. It’s really a stick-to-your-bones winter dish.

Tim Horton’s–Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts. I stop and grab a cup every single trip to Canada.

For more foodie must haves, head just 30 minutes east of Quebec City to L’Ile d’Orleans.

Explore Old Quebec's Lower Town for a bit a history and shopping along with foodie delights.
Explore Old Quebec’s Lower Town for a bit a history and shopping along with foodie delights.

Tour Upper Town

Here’s the top 11 places to discover in Upper Town on your getaway.

Le Château Frontenac

Dufferin Terrace

Old Quebec Funicular

Saint Louis Forts and Chateaux

The Citadelle of Quebec

Plaines d’Abraham

Musée des Ursulines

Ramparts of Quebec City

Le Musee du Fort

Artists Alley

Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral

And don’t forget a day trip east of Quebec City for more fun on your getaway.


Quebec City is a popular cruise ship port-of-call, like Regent Seven Seas Fall Color Cruise. I stopped in Quebec City in 2017 and enjoyed a day of exploring.

Parle un peu de Français?

More so than modern Montreal, the Québécois speak French. You will hear Bonjour, Hello!to sayhello and to determine your language of choice. But unlike the French, the Québécoislove to share their language so if you speak a little bit of French, use it.

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Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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