Quartier Petit Champlain is a historic neighbourhood in the Lower Town area of Old Quebec. We woke up bright and early from our hotel after our 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 Petit-Champlain, the iconic central street of the district.
Visiting Quartier Petit Champlain
The main attraction of Quartier Petit Champlain was walking around, taking in the sights, and admiring all of the heritage buildings and scenery. The area is incredibly photogenic, so we really enjoyed walking around and taking plenty of pictures. We were fascinated by the narrow alleyways, wrought iron staircase, impressive art murals, and brightly painted doors and window frames. Of course, most people frequent the area for the shopping! There are lots of stores selling souvenirs, specialty items by local artists and craftspeople, jewelry, clothing, items for the home, and so on. Keep in mind that this is a very touristy locations, so many stores will be selling their wares at a premium – you might be able to find some of the local specialty items elsewhere for less money. I did end up purchasing a couple of small hand-carved wooden cats at Sculpteur Flamand – one that looked like our cat, Chickpea, and another that looked like my sister’s cat. I gave my sister the one that looked like her cat as a little present when we returned! I didn’t end up seeing any carved wooden items like these anywhere else, and we did see the shop employees even carving some things by hand while we were there!
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Fresque du Petit-Champlain
We came across a huge mural on the side of one of the buildings on Rue du Petit-Champlain. This fresco illustrates the milestones of the Quebec working class people that have lived in Cap-Blanc (the waterfront neighbourhood) throughout history. The mural is painted on the side of 102 Rue du Petit-Champlain, a building currently owned by the Coopérative des artisans et commerçants du quartier Petit Champlain.
There is a small park alongside Rue du Petit-Champlain called Parc Félix-Leclerc. It is a lovely shaded spot with many trees and flowers, and also lots of park benches. Some of the ghost tours gathered here in the evenings with the tour leaders performing a small show (or, at least that’s what we thought was happening…we saw people with their faces painted acting a little bit scary in front of a group of people.) By daylight, people sat with a newspaper, or chatted with friends at this cute, little park.
When to Visit
We found that when we walked through earlier in the day, the area was generally less busy. After spending our first day walking all over Quebec City and returning to Quartier Petit Champlain in the afternoon, it was significantly busier. With that said, we walked through her after dinner one evening, and it wasn’t very busy at all. So, I would stick with the mornings and evenings if you get the opportunity. When the cruise ships stop in Quebec City on specific days in July and August, this area would likely be packed with people. If you’re able to plan ahead, you can check this website to see the vessel schedule, so you’ll know if you will be visiting on a day when a cruise ship is in port.
Most shops appear to be open from 9:30am to 9:00pm, with the exception of Sunday when the shops close at 5:00pm.