Saint-Roch Garden Stairs (Escalier du Faubourg), Quebec City

Saint-Roch Garden Stairs as seen from Rue Saint-Vallier

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Due to its significant topographic features, Quebec City is peppered with a series of public stairways that connect the city’s lower and upper parts. Conspicuous by its gracefulness among these vertical passages is Escalier du Faubourg. Linking Saint Roch District with the old town, the stairway also rewards climbers with 180-degrees of sweeping views along the way.

Named after its deposits of gleaming quartz rocks, Cap Diamant (English: Cape Diamond) is a massive headland that runs through the very heart of Quebec City, defining both its geography and urban layout. As the city center perches atop the escarpment, one can find dozens of staircases along the steep slopes, linking Haute Ville (the upper district) with Basse Ville (the lower district).


While most stairways tend to be rather nondescript, one stands out for its ornaments and spectacular vistas. Ascending from Saint-Roch to Quebec City’s historic quarter, Escalier du Faubourg comprises 99 steps that span across multiple flights of stairs. The stairway, which goes by various names, was originally constructed in 1855 as a wooden structure.


To accommodate the ever-growing number of workers who frequented the passage each and every day, in 1888, under the direction of then mayor, François Langelier, it was dismantled and replaced with a metal stairway. Unlike its predecessor, the new staircase featured an upper landing, where ascenders can enjoy the scenic views.


The current structure dates back to 1931, and is embellished with wrought iron elements, including three decorative gates that greet pedestrians on their way up or down. In 1941, Escalier du Faubourg was joined by an adjacent public elevator, designated for people with limited mobility, albeit in practice, it is slothful commuters who use it the most.


Aside from its transportational and architectural merits, the stairway is renowned for its panoramas too. The balcony at the top serves as a great vantage point of the city’s northern neighborhoods on the backdrop of the Laurentian Mountains.