A restored historic site rooted in time
First open in November 1999, the Musée de la place Royale—the newest component of the museum complex managed by the Musée de la civilisation—is located on the site where Samuel de Champlain founded the first permanent French settlement in North America in 1608. Place Royale is part of the historic area that earned Old Québec recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1985. Québec City’s historic district is, in fact, the first urban center north of Mexico to be listed among the World Heritage towns and cities.
A small sliver of land wedged between Cap Diamant and the St. Lawrence River, Place Royale is the natural, strategic, and well-protected haven Samuel de Champlain chose to build his Habitation when he arrived in the New World on July 3, 1608.
« De l’isle d’Orléans jusques a Quebecq y a une lieue, j’y arrivay le 3 juillet, où estant, je cherchay lieu propre pour nostre habitation, mais je n’en peu trouver de plus commode, ny mieux situé que la pointe de Québecq, ainsi appelé des sauvages, la quelle estoit remplie de noyers. »
Samuel de Champlain, Œuvres de Champlain, 2e éd., présentée par Georges-Émile Giguère, Vol. 1, Montréal, Éditions du jour, 1973, p. 148
Like the historic site, Centre d’interprétation is located between Cap Diamant and the St. Lawrence River, which was closely linked to the development of Place Royale. It is set right against Côte de la Montagne—the steep road established by Samuel de Champlain in 1623—and opens onto Place Royale in front of the bronze bust of Louis XIV and just steps from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church and the vestiges of Champlain’s Habitation.
Chevalier House, an integral part of historic Place-Royale, was restored in 1959 by the Commission des monuments historiques and is in fact three separate houses: the Chesnay House, the Frérot House and the Chevalier House.
Located at the corner of rue Cul-de-Sac and rue Notre-Dame, the Chesnay House was entirely rebuilt when the group of buildings was restored. Bertrand Chesnay de la Garenne, a merchant, built the original house in the 17th century.