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Often referred to as the birthplace of French America, the Place-Royale is a small square with a big history. Samuel de Champlain chose this site to construct a trading post in 1608. It grew throughout the 17 th and 18 th centuries to become a bustling town marketplace and the heart of business and industry in Quebec City. Located in Quebec’s picturesque Lower Town, the historic plaza is now a lively social centre and a popular visitor attraction.

A Market Place

The Place-Royale had a long tradition as an area for fishing and trade by the Native people. After Samuel de Champlain set up a fortified fur trading post on the site, the Place-Royale market square quickly grew to become the heart of commercial activity in New France. All European imports came ashore and exports left from this commercial district. Situated between the St. Lawrence River and the Cap Diamant, it became the home of many of New France's most prosperous merchants and ship owners.

A Tumultuous History

Three months of heavy bombardments devastated the Lower Town during the siege of Quebec in 1759. But after the English conquest, the Place-Royale once again grew into a hub of activity. The English merchants placed even more importance on trade, particularly the timber trade which was crucial for England. For half a century Quebec City was the largest port in British North America .

The area enjoyed great prosperity until the late 1800s, when the wood trade began to wane as it was replaced by steel. The district suffered as trading declined, and the once affluent area was an impoverished shadow of itself by 1950. In the sixties, restoration by the government began and the Place-Royale was transformed into the popular historic attraction it is today.

Highlights of the Square

The Notre-Dame-des-Victories church is located in the heart of the Place-Royale. Built in 1688 after a massive fire ravaged the Lower Town, it is the oldest stone church in Quebec and houses several 18 th and 19 th century paintings. A model boat which is suspended from the church’s ceiling represents the boat that brought the French soldiers on their journey to New France in 1664. The church is open year-round from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except during services. Every Sunday during the summer, mass is held at 10:30a.m. and noon.

Maison Chevalier (Chevalier House) is an important attraction within the Place-Royale site. Open free to the public, the historic home and museum showcases Quebec’s architectural history and features a permanent exhibit of 18 th and 19 th century interior decors from the extensive collections of the Musée de la Civilisation.

The Interpretation Centre

Opened in 1999, the Centre d'Interprétation de Place-Royale (Place-Royale Interpretation Centre) houses exhibits as well as a multimedia show that explain the history and development of the area throughout the 17 th and 18 th centuries. Guided tours are available from the interpretation centre in both English and French. Part of the Musée de la Civilisation’s museum complex, the Centre is just steps from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires and opens directly onto the Place-Royale square in front of the bronze bust of Louis XIV.

Visting Place-Royale

Located in Quebec City’s Lower Town, the Place-Royale Interpretation Centre located at 27 rue Notre-Dame is a great starting point for exploring the historic area. For more information call (418) 646-3167 or 1-866-710-8031.

Admission to the Centre is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for students, and $2 for children 12-16. Admission is free for children under 12. Visiting hours vary by season; for the Centre’s complete schedule and more information visit Place-Royale official website.

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