Breakneck Steps

Point of interest

This outdoor staircase, the oldest in Québec City, dates back to the beginning of the French colony. Many tourists take photographs at this location, as it affords a wonderful view of one of Canada's most picturesque streets: rue du Petit-Champlain.  

The 59 steps of the Breakneck Stairs connecting côte de la Montagne to rue du Petit-Champlain are just one of the ways to move between Upper and Lower Town.

As you gaze down upon Petit-Champlain, a charming pedestrian street stretching along the foot of the cliff, you would think you were looking at a postcard come to life. In the winter, the scene is even more sublime when Christmas lights are twinkling and the snow gently falling.

What to do at the Breakneck Stairs?

  • In the summer, the ultimate experience on the Stairs consists of eating or having a drink at one of the restaurant terraces located on the different landings.
  • At any time of the year, you can have your picture taken on any of the landings to have a personalized postcard made. 

The History of the Breakneck Staircase

In 1620, Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec City, decided to build his home at the top of Cape Diamant. He then drew a road, côte de la Montagne, which still follows the same route today. A path was then created to bypass a steep incline. French colonial authorities then had stairs and landings built, and this structure was called the "Champlain Stairs" or "Beggar's Stairs."

In 1893, the wooden staircase was replaced by a larger iron one with three bannisters. The one in place today dates back to the late 1960s. It was at this time that it became known as the Breakneck Staircase (escalier Casse-cou in French), a term coined by British tour guides. No serious injuries have been reported on the stairs, despite their ominous name!

Rue du Petit-Chamlain
Québec, QC,
Breakneck Staircase
You'll Also Like
  • Dugua de Mons Terrace
    10 Best Things to Do in Old Québec Read
  • Parliament Building
    7 Must-See Indoor Sites in Old Québec Read
  • Fatbike Parc national Jacques-Cartier
    The Best Fat Bike Trails Read
  • Ice Hotel
    7 Experiences to Make the Most of our Winter Wonderland Read
  • Village Vacances Valcartier
    Village Vacances Valcartier: The Most Fun You’ll Have This Winter Read
  • Snowshoeing at Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier
    Top Places for Snowshoeing Read