When visiting New Orleans a trip to the French Quarter is an absolute must. Stretching from the Mississippi River toward Esplande Avenue and Canal Street up to Rampart Street, the neighborhood is a feast for the eyes and bursting with things to do. Precisely because there is so much to do and so many interesting facts to learn I recommend taking a tour from one of the locals. Tours are numerous and are designed to entertain just about every taste. I did the cemetery Voodoo tour of which a portion of the proceeds goes back into the community to assist in preservation efforts. That tour was so fun I have to write up a separate post to tell you all about it.
Leaving our bed and breakfast in the Garden District we took a short ride down St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street in one of the city’s famous streetcars. For a three dollar day pass you can hop on and off as much as you like. They are a reliable source of transportation scheduled nine minutes apart. It was a short walk to Cafe Beignet on Royal Street where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of Cajun hash browns and coffee. I love to eat and everyone I spoke with told me there was no bad food in NOLA. They were not lying. The people of New Orleans are super friendly and treated us well. After breakfast we window shopped along the antique shop lined street and took in the architecture.
Founded in 1718 the French Quarter is New Orleans oldest neighborhood. It was French Canadian, Sieur de Bienville, who came upon this crescent of the Mississippi River deemed safe from tidal surges and hurricanes. Under his governorship New Orleans, which he named in honor of the Prince Regent of France, became the capital of French Louisiana and this its center. Today the district is a National Historical Landmark containing numerous historical buildings. Most of the surviving French Quarter architecture was built during the forty year of Spanish rule which we can see today expressed in colorful pastel walls and elaborately decorated ironwork balconies. They stand today in part because the Spanish had stricter building codes and eliminated flammable materials like wood.
Our trip coincided with the Red Dress Run, the biggest little red dress event in the world so everywhere we looked there were men and women in sexy red dresses. The event is held the second Saturday of every August and is sponsored by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers, a social club of self proclaimed drinkers with running problems. They spilled out of beautiful Louis Armstrong park and onto the streets of the French Quarter in a festive mood. There was music and drinking going just as you would expect to happen after midnight at ten in the morning. I must admit, their energy along with the very friendly people of NOLA had me in a such a great mood, the sweltering August heat had no chance of ruining my day.
After our Voodoo Cemetery tour we headed to Riverwalk in search of something cold to drink. We ended up having a late lunch of scrumptious jambalaya partnered with a cold fruity drink called a Cherry Blossom at River’s Edge. Following lunch we strolled past local artists displaying their latest works of art along the beautifully manicured landscaping of Jackson Square. The main attraction is sculptor Clark Mills’s grand statue of Battle of New Orleans hero and U.S. President, Andrew Jackson. The square is surrounded by historical landmarks like the old St. Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State museum and the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.
We then headed back to our quiet, clean and comfortable room in an elegant Greek Revival mansion for a long nap so we could party all night long on infamous Bourbon Street. Do not miss visiting Bourbon Street, no matter how crowded and obnoxious, it was entertaining to say the least. I couldn’t think of a better place for my first taste of absinthe than at the Old Absinthe House Bar. Absinthe reminds me of the anise flavored Columbian drink, aguardiente. I sipped it slowly so I was all good. This bar is almost 200 years old and looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in at least 100 and the bathroom at least 300. I guess the interesting characters that came in and out that night kind of made up for it. People of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities having a great time together.
You know how I really like to dig in and explore the city. I had to go back to the French Quarter one more time to visit more than the tourist scene on Bourbon Street. I had to experience the local jazz music scene for myself. On my last night we had a blast bar hopping on Frenchman Street. None of the places had cover charges. In between stops we ran into an open air art market to inspire my creative side. Every place I visited that night had live music and every single band was great. Non stop dancing hula hoop girl can attest to that. We hit up The Spotted Cat, Club Negril and Maison to name a few. The atmosphere was festive and lots of people were dancing.
I have wonderful memories of the French Quarter and I’m sure I’ll go back one day.
Have you been to the French Quarter? What are your recommendations?
“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” Mark Twain
“I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.” Langston Hughes
“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home.
It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard.
I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.” Anne Rice
This is a sponsored post. Opinions are mine.
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