At the foot of Cap Diamant in the historic Lower Town (Basse-Ville) of Quebec City, the Petit-Champlain quartier is one of the oldest spots in the city and said to be home to the oldest commercial street in North America; Rue du Petit-Champlain.
In the beginning of Quebec’s history, Petit-Champlain was little more than portside village made up of just a few homes and fur trading posts. Today, after a huge urban restoration project, the quartier is bursting with sidewalk cafes, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques hidden down narrow cobblestone streets. The area is also well-known as an artists’ enclave, and nearly fifty of its stores are run by a local artists’ co-op.
On the side of 102 Rue du Petit-Champlain, look out for a huge trompe-l'œil. Designed by Murale Création, the famous mural shows different stages of Quebec’s history, from the bombardments to the landslides to the people who set down their roots here by the shores of St Lawrence.
Petit-Champlain is also home to the famous Breakneck Stairs that connect Upper and Lower Town. The oldest stairs in the city, they were first built in 1635 and given their terrifying nickname in the mid-19th century. Don’t worry, though. More recent renovations mean they’re not as scary as they sound!
Part of the Vieux Quebec UNESCO World Heritage site, Petit-Champlain sits at the bottom of Breakneck Stairs and the funicular connecting the Upper and Lower Town.