Quebec City is full of staircases. Quebec has a large cliff that separates two areas called Lower Town and Upper Town (one up above, and one down below). To travel between Lower Town and Upper Town, you had better put on your walking shoes and get ready to climb some stairs! There is one other option to transport yourself between the two spots, and that’s using the Funicular railway. I’ll give you an overview of the stairways of Quebec City that Justin and I encountered on our trip, starting with the Funicular.
Old Quebec Funicular
The Funicular is not a staircase, but it deserves some mention. It is a railway located in the Petit Champlain district that will transport you up the hill between Lower Town and Upper Town. Once you pay your fare of $2.25, you can hop in the car and go for a ride. It runs all day and night long, from 7:30am to midnight in the summer months. You can check out their website for more details. As you ride up or down the Funicular, you will be treated with great views of Old Quebec and the St. Lawrence River.
The Funicular originally opened in 1879, using the water ballast system of propulsion. It converted to using electricity in 1907. In 1945, a major fire destroyed the Funicular, but it was rebuilt in 1946. It has been open now for over 135 years.
We rode the Funicular once as we traveled towards Upper Town. For the rest of our time in Quebec City, we used our own legs and took the stairs! We actually came across quite a few staircases, each one unique in its own way.
The Breakneck Stairs (or Breakneck Steps) are Quebec’s oldest staircase, dating back to 1635. They were originally called the “Champlain Stairs”, “Beggars’ Stairs”, and “Lower Town Stairs”, but were renamed to Breakneck due to its steepness. The stairs have been renovated several times over the years. They are located directly beside the Funicular so you can choose to take the railway or take the stairs.
We stumbled upon the Lepine Stairs while we were walking to the restaurant, Le Tier Temps. In between the highway overpass street art that we admired and the restaurant were the Lepine Stairs on Rue Saint-Vallier Est. This stairway was originally constructed out of wood in 1857, but was rebuilt from iron in 1883. They are named “Lépine” after a nearby funeral home. Urban legend has it that you used to be able to observe something strange while hiking up the stairs – corpses being washed outside at the back of the funeral home! But, who knows if it’s truth or myth.
The Lepine Stairs are one of the most decorative stairways that we had climbed in the city, as the wrought iron arches are decorated with pretty floral designs.
The Governors’ Promenade that connects the Plains of Abraham to the Dufferin Terrace is full of stairs. You can’t help but climb several staircases along this long wooden pathway. There are 309 stairs in total here, but they are stretched out along the full length of the boardwalk. Many people enjoy going for a jog here; we went for a leisurely walk and enjoyed the scenic views of the river. For more information, please check out our complete article with plenty of photos.
Escalier du Quai-du-roi
This quaint staircase, Escalier du Quai-du-roi, connects Boulevard Champlain with Rue du Petit Champlain. You can’t miss it while you’re exploring Quartier Petit Champlain. It looks so pretty between the old, stone buildings, all decorated with flowers.
Even when you’re not climbing stairs in Quebec, you can expect to walk up some very steep streets. You definitely will get your workout while you’re here! We didn’t get a chance to walk up and down all of the stairs – we’ll save some for our next visit. Some other notable staircases:
Cap-Blanc Stairs: Quebec’s longest staircase with 398 steps. It was constructed out of wood in 1868 and they have been rebuilt several times over the years. They connect the Plains of Abraham to Rue Champlain down below.
Faubourg Stairs: A beautiful staircase built out of wood in 1858, and rebuilt in iron in 1889. It is a three-level staircase with graceful wrought iron railings, complete with a view of the Saint-Roch district and the St. Lawrence River from the top.
Map of the Staircases in Quebec City