Walking Tour of Old Quebec City – lower town

Photo heavy blog !!

Our second day in port on the Caribbean Princess in Quebec City we woke to this view again from our balcony.

Good morning Quebec city
Morning view from the balcony of the lower and upper city with the Chateau Frontenac

Just looking out to the lower and upper city from the ship was stunning. Even the area around the dock was lovely with the fall foliage in peak color. Our ship is docked on the St Lawrence River and will be sailing Northeast at the end of the day towards the Riviere Saguenay.

The lovely view in the port of Quebec City
Riverfront square

I was scheduled for an afternoon of exploration with the ship excursion – Old Québec Walking Tour & Tea at Château Frontenac. We were instructed to “dress in layers and wear good walking shoes”. The tour description was as follows on the Princess Cruise website ” A narrated walk to Place Royale via Place de Paris and rue Saint-Pierre.”

The tour guide meandered around the lower town, giving such a great history of the city, describing the various influences over the last 400 years. I love to look at the architecture of the buildings. She would point out the British and French influences as we walked along. One thing I noticed was the “waves” made of stone in the roads and sidewalks. Starting in the photo above you see the meandering sidewalk.

Fantastic walking tour guide
Our tour guide was easy to find with her flag

The area we were walking through was very interesting and you could see the banking influence on the city.

Imperial bank of Canada 1875
Imperial bank of Canada 1875
Shoreline of the river in 1600
Shoreline in 1600

Ahhh….an explanation for the waves. My limited understanding is they showed where the shoreline had been over the years or flooding had occurred. Most of old town / lower town was built on fill. The explanation was simple, they needed more space at the bottom of the hill.

Rue St Paul
Rue Saint Paul
waves in the brick along the roadway
Waves in the brick Rue St Paul
Rue de Barricade
Rue de Barricade

In the above photo, you see the “city walls” near the parked cars. The city wall was just 5 blocks in from the river/port. Looking back, after the tour, studying the city maps helped me to understand just how narrow a strip along the river the lower city is up against the city walls. During the tour we wandered all over the place, and it was difficult to get my bearings or understand just how narrow the lower city actually is.

Rue Saint Pierre at Rue Saint Antoine and Le Priori Hotel
Rue Saint Pierre at Rue Saint Antoine and Le Priori Hotel

In the photo above, you can see how the street changes from large stones to much smaller stonework. Le Priori Hotel is in the lower city and our tour guide talked a bit about how nice it was for a visit.

Quebec City Mural
Quebec City Mural

The Quebec City Mural was an amazing sight, painted on a building near Place Royale. I can’t do justice to the description, so I will point you to – https://www.quebec-cite.com/en/what-to-do-quebec-city/mural-of-quebecers

Closeup of Quebec City Mural
Quebec City Mural shows the 400 year history of the city

The mural was mesmerizing and it was wonderful to have our guide pointing out important figures and telling of their historical influence on the city, the province and the country.

City wall, adjacent to the Quebec City Mural
City wall adjacent to Quebec City Mural
Interesting architecture near Place Royale and QC mural
Interesting architecture near the Quebec City mural
Place Royale rooflines
Rooflines and materials in the Place Royale
Place Royale Lower town
Buildings in the Place Royale square

Our tour description stated that “Place Royale is a handsomely restored square in the heart of Lower Town boasting 17th and 18th-century stone architecture. The site of Samuel de Champlain’s first settlement, the square is home to Notre Dame des Victoires, one of the oldest stone church still standing in North America.”

Notre Dame Des Victoires Catholic Church

Our tour description was right on with our next few steps. “ make your way to Petit Champlain Street, a pedestrian-only street adjacent to the Place Royale featuring boutiques, shops, cafés and restaurants housed in 17th and 18th century buildings. Strolling musicians, jugglers and other street performers abound.” We didn’t see the jugglers and street performers, but we certainly saw the shops and cafe as we headed to the Funicular to go to the upper walled city.

Heading to the Funiculaire
Rous Sous le Fort and Rue de Notre Dame

This corner where I took the photo is just 3 blocks in from the river, at Rous Sous Le Fort and Rue de Notre Dame. You can see the track in the photo above for Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec. Our group was split into smaller groups to ride up. Our destination was the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac which dominates the city skyline.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Just a short ride to get to the Upper city.

a view of our car coming down the hill
The descending car on the right will take us up the hill.

The line was quite short and in moments about 10 of us rode up the hill. What awaited at the top will have to be in the next post, so check back in for another edition of the walking tour.

Just a couple of observations about the lower town of Quebec City. The sidewalks were narrow, some cobbled, some paved, some curb cuts. Many streets were pedestrian only, but some were not, and you had to be aware of parked and moving automobiles. The first part of this walking tour we were up and down many streets, and this tour was NOT for someone who had a challenge walking. The tour description was very clear about this. We encountered lots of uneven surfaces and steps. In a city that is 400 years old, this is not unexpected. Having taken the walking tour, then going back and studying maps and my photo’s, I would encourage anyone with moderate walking ability to explore the lower town of Quebec City. I would love to go back and spend several days poking around. Our guide was spectacular and shared so many pieces of the history of the city, and the changes it had undergone, and the efforts to preserve it for future generations.