I’ve been writing a lot about New Orleans lately, the food, the festivals, the family fun, but what about the French Quarter? While the Crescent City has many great neighborhoods the French Quarter is NOLA’s oldest and most well known, and in my opinion her crown. Also known as the Vieux Carré, the French Quarter is oozing with undeniable charm, a fabulous hodgepodge of fine art, grit, delicious cuisine, music, and art!
New Orleans is just shy of 300 years old and has a long and fascinating history which helps to make it one of the most unique cities in America. Because it was French and then Spanish and then French again, before it was acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase, the Quarter has a vibe all its own. It’s hard to put a finger on it, it’s not quite European, and not quite American, but a mix of both and yet there’s something else there as well. Maybe it’s the voodoo? It’s definitely the Creole, but there’s more. As you wander the streets lined on both sides by the colorfully painted buildings indicative of the Vieux Carré Its impossible not to feel the history of this magical place the peeling paint and 300 years of grit only adding to its charm!
The St. Louis Cathedral
If the French Quarter is the crown of New Orleans, than the St. Louis Cathedral is the jewel in her crown. The St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the United States and along with the fleur-de-lis a true icon of the city.
The Cathedral is centrally located in front of Jackson Square Park, which is surrounded by local artisans and musicians day and night. It’s a great place to wander around or just to take a break and listen to the music. As I mentioned the Cathedral is operational, so if you fancy attending a service while in town you can do that too! Flanking the Cathedral on either side are the Cabildo and the Louisiana State Museum. Both are open to the public, but I have to admit I’ve never been to either one.
Beyond Bourbon Street…
Beyond great cuisine and the infamous Bourbon, Street New Orleans is famous for its music and art scene and rightfully so! There are many great music clubs, but no need to be so formal if you’re looking to hear great music, you really needn’t look much further than the nearest street corner.
The same is true for the art scene, just look to the left or right and you’ll find yourself looking into one of the city’s many art galleries. Everything from local artisans displaying their still wet paintings in Jackson Square to multi artist galleries and antique shops on Royal Street, Chartres Street and just about everywhere else in the Quarter!
You never know what you’re going to find poking around. On our most recent trip we had the good fortune to stumble upon the grand opening of photographer Frank Relle’s, new Royal Street gallery. His photographs are stunning and having one of his prints is definitely high on my wish list.
One of my favorite New Orlean’s artists is Mark Bercier and I was so excited when I had the good fortune to meet him while visiting his paintings at the Bee Galleries on Chartres Street. I’ve admired his work for years and meeting him was really something special! He spent quite a bit of time showing me around and explaining his work!
The Quarter After Dark
Already feeling like you’re someplace special, something happens in the Quarter after dark and the light of the gaslamps on a warm night creates a hazy glow that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another time and place. Couple this after dark ambiance with its long and storied past and It’s no wonder that New Orleans finds itself on the “Most Haunted” list more often than not. Haunted hotels, apartments, restaurants, you name it, it’s haunted!
Want to learn more? Consider taking an evening tour, you’ll learn a ton of history, have a lot of laughs and it’s a great way to see the neighborhood safely. Though I love the French Quarter, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that its best to stay on the beaten path or in a larger group after dark.
I’ve been to NOLA 5 times and each time I’ve stayed somewhere new. This most recent visit found us at the Omni Royal Orleans on St. Louis Street between Chartres and Royal. Our room looked out on Royal and though it was a great view it wasn’t quiet, so you might consider asking for an interior room if you decide to stay here. On the up side we saw quite a few Second Line Parades being led by newlyweds right from our hotel window!
The rooftop offered great views of the river and the Quarter as well as a heated pool, a bar and a workout facility. The boys really enjoyed the break! I would definitely stay here again, as the service and location were perfect! Side note: You’ve got to love a hotel that hands out champagne in go cups!
Speaking of staying again… New Orleans will celebrate her 300th birthday in 2018 and this is one birthday party I won’t want to miss… who’s in?
As usual I took a ton of photos on this trip and though I’ve done my best to narrow them down there are still so many I want to share… The famous gaslight lamps and lanterns, the street signs, storm shutters, selfies, street views, the Ursuline Convent and so much more…