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A Staircase into the Trees

Posted on 15 Sep, 2019 in Culture | 4 comments

One of the most basic things to know about Québec City is that it has an Upper Town and a Lower Town…Haute Ville/Basse Ville. It is a question of altitude; the streets surrounding the Chateau Frontenac are the better part of a football field above the cobblestones of Place Royale.

As any tourist in Québec City will tell you, moving between the Upper Town and Lower Town poses a challenge to even the ablest of walkers. Going up, the slopes burn your leg muscles and tax your lungs. Going down, those same slopes wreak havoc on your trick knee and – especially in wintertime – threaten to put you abruptly on your rear end.

To facilitate the up and down migration of pedestrians, the city has, over the years, built a series of staircases. There are more than a dozen in the Cité-Limoilou district that is home to Québec’s Old City. Some are long, some are winding, some are iron, some are wood. They all exist in an attempt to level an uneven city.

Among the most impressive and most appreciated of these staircases is the escalier du Cap-Blanc. Straight as an arrow, it soars up the cliff, linking the delightfully isolated neighborhoods along Champlain Boulevard with the walking paths of the Plains of Abraham. Not only does this staircase serve as a (more or less) convenient shortcut between these otherwise distant sectors of the city, it is also a daily destination for fitness freaks who cherish it as a 398-step plan to firmer calves. As those steps rise toward the heights of the Upper Town, they seem to disappear into the foliage that surrounds them.

4 Comments

  1. About 3 years ago we did a Holland America cruise that included a stop at Quebec City and you were our excellent walking tour guide. We used the funicular to get to the Upper Town but used stairs to return to Lower Town and our ship. I was very nervous and very slow going down all those stairs. A few months later I learned why. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease which was even then during your tour affecting my stability and mobility on my feet. Fortunately my PD is progressing very slowly, so I am not much worse now than I was 3 years ago.

    • I am glad to hear your disease is progressing slowly. But, if you come back to Québec, I’ll buy you a ride down the hill as well!

      • Merci beaucoup! That is all the French I know.

  2. Projet futur, faire tous les circuits des escaliers à Québec, mais pas en participant au défi des escaliers.

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