Locals bestow Place-Royale as the spiritual and historical heart of Vieux Quebec, for this spot is not only the birthplace of French Civilization in North America but also one of the continent’s oldest settlements. And that history resonates, as the site has the largest surviving ensemble of 17th and 18th century buildings in North America.
One of the highlights here is the Centre d’Interpretation de Place-Royal, an interpretive center with illuminating exhibits on the individual people, houses, and challenges of setting up a town the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Walk past the center to see a trompe-l’oeil mural of people from the early city. Dominating the plaza is the oldest church in Quebec, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. It’s worth taking a peak inside at the paintings, altar, and the large boat suspended from the ceiling.
When not soaking up the history, duck in and out of the boutiques and restaurants that are sprinkled throughout the Place-Royal. Folk dances, live music, and other festive happenings are often held near the bust of Louis XIV, in the center.
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The Place-Royale is located in Lower Town, and like many of the attractions of Vieux Quebec, is surrounded by historical sites and museums. Nearby attractions include Espace 400e, Chateau Frontenac, the Fortifications, Maison Chevalier, Vieux Old Port, the Musee de la Civilization, and Place de Paris.
For a real treat, take a ride on the nearby Funicular, which provides stellar views of the St. Lawrence River, the Laurentian Mountains, and the Vieux Quebec.