New Orleans has many claims to fame, among them its unique architecture, regional cuisine, jazz music, voodoo legends, haunted histories, Mardi Gras and so much more, and while each of the aforementioned deserve recognition in their own right, for me, it’s the mingling of all these sights, sounds, and smells that make New Orleans so special, a true feast for the senses.
No matter how many times I visit there is always something new to discover! I’m constantly stopping to snap a photo of this or that, often multiple times in one block. I always hope that my photos will convey feeling, but in a city as busy as New Orleans, there’s a fine line between a feast for the senses and sensory overload! Do I share the big picture, the small details? What about the scores of tourists in the way, or the parked cars? Include them, or delete? Maybe a little of both?
Often, by the time I’ve waited for the car to drive by, or the people to meander out of my shot, I’m half a block or more behind my family. While I’m aware that some of the best shots are captured in early morning or late at night, getting them can prove difficult, as it’s not always the best idea to be out and about on your own, not to mention my family isn’t especially keen on those early morning hours.
All of the above reasons are why, during my most recent visit, I sighed up for a photo tour with American Photo Safari. I chose the French Quarter tour, and used my mirrorless SLR camera, however they offer tours in other parts of the city, and cellphone users are welcome to join as well.
Our tour started in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, located just in front of Jackson Square Park, and quite possibly the most photographed building in New Orleans. We spent some time getting to know each other, and our guide Natasha, before doing our best to get some unique shots of this iconic building.
There were multiple haunted stops on the tour including the Cornstalk Fence Hotel on Royal Street, and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, which is not just haunted, but also claims to be the oldest operating bar in the United States.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is located on the “good” end of Bourbon Street, if you go consider trying the voodoo daiquiri, which tastes just like a grape slushy, but be warned it packs a punch!
It’s been a few years since people tied their horses up to the hitching post, however, there are many of them throughout New Orleans and they add a great deal of charm to the city’s streets. I’d be surprised if I ever saw a horse tied to one, but never say never in NOLA!
While visiting NOLA you’re sure to notice the gas lamps located on the street corners, hanging from the galleries and doorways, and along the walls. The French Quarter, just wouldn’t be the Quarter without them!
During the day, they add an old world charm, but the real magic happens at night, especially in the warmer months, when the lamplight mixes with the humid air creating a magical hazy glow.
Over the course of it’s 299 year history the architecture in the Quarter has been influenced by Spanish, French, Creole and American residents. It’s the combination of these different styles that make the Quarter the special place it is today.
Beyond the colorful and unique street fronts you’ll find that there’s more than meets the eye, magical hidden courtyards, filled with angels, fountains and lush gardens are just waiting for you to discover them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of the French Quarter, and some of the details that help to make it such a wonderful place to visit and explore!
Tips & Advice
- A recipe for Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Voodoo drink:
2 oz bourbon 1 oz Everclear or vodka 4 oz grape juice 1 cup crushed ice
- Are you wondering how much it costs to keep the gas lamps lit? Around $8 per month, or so I was told.
- The photo tour is 3 hours, and is suitable for all ages and all camera types.
- The tour is best suited to older children and adults.
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Take me with you!