What is the Place Royale in Quebec City?
Place Royale: Where Quebec City Began
As the heart of Lower Town, Place Royale embodies the soul of Quebec City. A trip to this historic square isn’t just about charming shops and cobblestone streets; it’s a journey through time, starting with Samuel de Champlain, the city’s founder.
In 1608, Champlain dreamt of establishing a permanent French settlement in North America. He chose Place Royale, strategically located at the foot of Cape Diamond, where the St. Lawrence River meets the Rivière Saint-Charles. Here, he built Habitation de Québec, a fortified trading post that marked the genesis of French Canada.
Centuries later, remnants of Champlain’s Habitation lie beneath the square, whispering tales of early struggles and triumphs. But the most prominent historical landmark is undoubtedly Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, a magnificent church whose name reflects Quebec’s tumultuous past.
How the chapel got its name
Originally named l’Enfant Jésus (Child Jesus), the church witnessed two critical victories that shaped its destiny. In 1690, a British attack/siege on Quebec City was miraculously repelled by Governor Frontenac. As a result, the church was renamed Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire (Our Lady of Victory). Two decades later, another British fleet met its demise in a storm, solidifying French control over the region. It is attributed to divine intervention and so the second victory prompted the final name change to Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victories), a testament to the enduring French presence in North America.
Beyond the church, Place Royale boasts an array of treasures. Explore the Maison Chevalier, the oldest stone house in Quebec City, and imagine the lives of early settlers. Uncover the fascinating history of the region at the Museum of Civilization. Indulge in local crafts and souvenirs, or immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the shops and cafes.
A visit to Place Royale is not simply a stroll through a square; it’s a walk through the footsteps of history, a chance to connect with Champlain’s vision, and marvel at the rich tapestry woven by countless stories of victory and resilience. So, take your time, explore, and allow the spirit of Quebec City to captivate you.