Quebec City – Walking Tour of the Upper and Lower City

We started our morning by walking La Terrasse Dufferin (Dufferin Terrace) from the Chateau Frontenac to the Citadel. The board-walked area reminded me a little of 1890’s Hot Springs, Arkansas. The wide terrace, popular for summertime performances, was built in 1879 by none other than Lord Dufferin. A  funicular transports visitors to the Lower City for a small fee. At the end of the boardwalk is La Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governor’s Promenade).

Chateau Frontenac Hotel on La Terrasse Dufferin


La Terrasse Dufferin offers beautiful (and free) views of the Lower Town and the St. Lawrence River

We climbed (and climbed and climbed) 300 stairs to the Citadel. Since our Citadel tour was the next morning, we continued our walk around the high gate into the Plains D’Abraham. This preserved area of large grassy fields is where the battle of Quebec occurred in 1759. Today, workers were setting up the stage for the upcoming big St. Jean Baptiste Celebration.

From there we walked along Rue St. Louis and Rue des Jardins, passing by St. Andrew Presbyterian and the Ursuline Convent to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Inside Holy Trinity, we learned the 1804 structure was the first Anglican cathedral built Great Britain. Although beautiful, it couldn’t compare to the intricately detailed Basilica de Notre-Dame du Quebec – our next stop.  Although the building is relatively new (built in 1923), the church itself has been on this site since 1633. Outside, we viewed the Holy Door which is only opened every 7 years. Fortunately for us, it was a Jubilee Year and thus open for the next few months.

Basilica Notre Dame de Quebec

Our walking tour continued along the northern side of the Upper City where we overlooked the waterfront factory district and walked by the shady Montmorency Park. After a quick dash into the Canadian post office for stamps, we descended the Breakneck stairs leading to the Quartier Petit Champlain. This is the heart of the Lower City with restaurants, shops and people debarking from the cruise ships.

The Breakneck Stairs lead to Quartier Petit Champlain


We meandered around until settling on Le Lapin Saute for lunch. We were early enough to sit outside in a garden type area. It was peaceful but we could still people watch the busy street bustling with tourists. After a delicious meal, we walked by the waterfront to the Notre Dame des Victoires Church in the Place-Royale.

Notre Dame des Victoires


For a $1 entrance fee, we walked into the old stone church. Built in 1688 on the site of Champlain’s fort, this is the oldest stone church in North America. The first thing catching our eye inside the cream and gold sanctuary was the wooden boat hanging from the ceiling.  We went downstairs for a presentation about Champlain’s founding the city. Afterward it was off to the Musee de la Civilisation finished by beverages at La Maison Smith – an outdoor cafe at the Palace-Royale.

Place-Royale is the site of Champlain’s 1608 trading post

There you have it – a complete walking tour of Old Quebec!

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