Place Royale in Basse-Ville (Lower Town) of Vieux Quebec

Place Royale is a central plaza located in the historic Basse-Ville, or Lower Town neighbourhood of Old Quebec. It is celebrated as the place of origin of French Civilization in North America. Place Royale contains one of the largest collections of well-preserved 17th and 18th century buildings in the continent, and is recognized as one of North America’s oldest colonial settlements.

History of Place Royale

Place Royale was a thriving hub of trade and commerce under the French regime. This public square was a bustling marketplace, and also a spot where criminal executions were carried out. It was the site of Samuel de Champlain’s first and second habitations, dating back to 1608, the year Quebec was founded. The dark stone circle on the ground in the photograph above represents the site of Champlain’s second habitation, a stone building which served as a home, a warehouse, a trading post and a fort. The church, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is built where the habitations once stood.

Nowadays, Place Royale still serves as a central area in Basse-Ville where visitors can marvel at the historic buildings, visit the church, enjoy a meal or beverages on a patio, take plenty of photographs, and do lots of people-watching. Place Royale, along with the rest of Old Quebec, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Place Royale is a modern-day movie site. In fact, while we were visiting this region, we walked past a film shoot in progress! The movie, Catch Me If You Can, features scenes filmed at Place Royale, which was used to represent an area of France. The Angelina Jolie movie, Taking Lives, used Notre-Dame-des-Victoires as a filming location.

Bust of Louis XIV

In the middle of this town square, there is a bust of Louis XIV that has an interesting history.

This one is a replica of the original, which was erected in 1686. The original bronze bust was created in 1665 by Le Bernin, a master Italian artist, architect and sculptor. However, the original work was removed in 1700 as it was thought to disrupt traffic in the square. Unfortunately, the original Louis XIV bust was somehow lost and never recovered. In 1928, French Minister of Commerce and Communications presented Canada with a replica of the original sculpture, and it was reinstalled in Place Royale in 1931. Again, it was removed in 1944 as it was thought to disrupt traffic. Finally, it was reinstalled permanently in 1964 where it remains to the present day.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church

 

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Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is a small Roman Catholic church in Place Royale. Construction on the church began in 1687 and it was completed in 1723. The church was almost destroyed by bombing during the Conquest of 1759, it was fully restored in 1816. Today, it remains as a historic monument, a fully functioning place of worship, and a tourist attraction. Entering the church is free of charge, so we took a peek inside.

Things To Do

As I mentioned previously, Place Royale is a great place to take in the sights, take lots of photographs, and visit the church. Another worthwhile site to check out (unfortunately, we did not, but perhaps next time) is Centre d’Interpretation de Place-Royal, an interpretive centre with illuminating exhibits about the history, the people, and the buildings of Vieux Quebec. Occasionally here, you might see a street performer or two – we heard some musical performances by a traditional French band, a man playing the harp, and a woman performing as a statue.

One of our most memorable times on the trip was sitting out on the patio of La Pizz in Place Royale. We ordered a pitcher of sangria and admired our surroundings. After such busy days walking all over the city to see everything, it was wonderful to be able to relax on a patio and enjoy some cold drinks.

Our view from the patio at La Pizz

Justin and I were able to chat and reflect on our trip to Quebec, watch all of the people walking by, take a breather and do absolutely nothing at all. I think that it is really important on vacations like these, where you want to be able to visit all of the important sites with a limited amount of time, that you take some time to relax. You will definitely burn out if you rush around from place to place, so be sure to balance your time wisely and soak in your surroundings! Sitting on the patio, I was able to admire all of the details in the historic stonework houses, and take pleasure in the brightly-colored flowers hanging from window boxes. The sangria was also super refreshing!

I also highly recommend checking out Place Royale in the evening. It is wonderful to see the church and the buildings all lit up. Walking around Quebec City at night is perfectly safe as crime in the city is incredibly low. I felt absolutely safe walking around in the evening hours!

Place Royale

27 rue Notre-Dame

Basse-Ville, Vieux Quebec

Quebec City

This post is part of the #SundayTraveler blog link-up. Please visit Pack Me To’s post about a new curated travel directory to join in the fun!

Lauren
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Lauren is one half of "Justin Plus Lauren". She loves to travel, take photos, and write all about it! Lauren eats a plant-based diet and seeks out yummy vegan food on her travels. She loves nature, animals, outdoor adventures, coffee, and her cats, Chickpea and Peanut.

11 Responses

  1. I’m gonna admit that I’m obviously not that aware of everything Canada has to offer – I never knew that there were old parts of cities like that up there! I loved all your pictures, and relaxing in the center with sangria sounds perfect!

  2. slightly astray
    | Reply

    What a cute little place. It looks exactly like something that I would just love. I love little details like pots of flowers hanging out the windows. 🙂 My favorite thing to do is just to linger somewhere and relax and people-watch too! Add in a pitcher of sangria, and I can probably stay there for hours!

  3. Place Royale looks so charming and what a great place to have a stroll. I love all those colorful flower boxes. I haven’t been to Old Quebec yet but I’d love to visit soon. I can certainly see why this has been featured in movie sets. Glad you had a wonderful getaway.

  4. Mandie Sanders
    | Reply

    The more I travel, the more I am finding my travel style, and I’m realizing that the places I truly enjoy myself the most are the ones where I can just wander around for awhile without getting super overwhelmed, and then grab a coffee (or a pitcher of sangria!), sit down and just absorb the vibe for awhile. I love quaint, chill places like this – definitely right up my alley!

  5. Amy Lynne Hayes
    | Reply

    Love the architecture of that place! It looks like the perfect spot to wander and enjoy the day. There’s something highly underrated in being able to sit and do nothing when visiting a new place – but there is great value in being able to just relax. Looks amazing!

  6. Annika -Live Laugh Explore
    | Reply

    Oh, how I love Québec City! I used to live there and met my boyfriend there 5 years ago so it will always be a special place 🙂 I am curious though, how did you manage as vegans there? We had some massive troubles last time in the middle of the winter to find any vegan places to eat at..!! Ended up going to Chez Victor for delicious fries like we did when we lived there so it wasn’t too bad but we were quite disappointed at not being able to find worthy vegan restaurants.

  7. Upasna
    | Reply

    Quebec City looks like a charming and lovely place! Would love to visit someday!

  8. Guest
    | Reply

    Quebec City looks like a charming and lovely place! Would love to visit someday!

  9. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer
    | Reply

    Nice! I like it. It reminds me of Europe. I really do need to visit Canada one of these days 😀

  10. Mrs Chasing the Donkey
    | Reply

    I need to get my butski there one day.. oooonnnneeee day! So many things to see, so little time.

  11. […] first night in Quebec City and set out on the town. Quartier Petit Champlain is a quick walk from Place Royale, the historic town plaza of Old Quebec. We walked past Place Royale and continued towards Rue du […]

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