You're in luck! New Year's Eve in New Orleans is great fun - there are live bands in the French Quarter - all up and down Bourbon Street- for just the cost of a cover charge. And some of the venues don't even have that! Plus, there is always live music in Jackson Square for FREE! Hang around there, because at midnight there is a ball drop atop Jackson Brewery, and fireworks over the Mississippi River - all for FREE!
As we traveled the streets of the French Quarter, two New Orleans art galleries particularly caught our eye:*The Angela King Gallery and *The Mann Gallery.
This stunning lucite sculpture pictured at The Angela King Gallery is a piece by Frederick Hart, who also crafted a stone sculpture for the National Cathedral and a bronze sculpture for the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial--both pieces are in Washington,DC. What a multi-talented individual! We were given a thorough background on the late artist and his place in history by art consultant, Deborah Choate.
That same afternoon, we dropped by The Mann Gallery where we spied the Impressionistic work of French artist, Luc Didier, whose oil painting, Chaussee sur la vonne a Vivonne, truly moved us (pic #2)! After being briefly schooled in his body of work, we were guided around the gallery by assistant director, Jill McGaughey.
If you have a love of art and especially enjoy galleries, go to the website below for a list of other galleries to visit while in New Orleans.
*The Angela King Gallery, 240 Royal St., New Orleans (504-858-1609); see Deborah Choate, executive art consultant
*The Mann Gallery, 305 Royal St., New Orleans (504-523-2342); see Jill McGaughey, assistant director
Shop windows filled with wonderful treasures beckon visitors to come in to appreciate fine antiques in the French Quarter. Whether it's a rare King Louis the XVth regulateur clock or a one-of-a-kind crystal chandelier imported from Europe or marriage chest from the Renaissance, you'll get a kick out of visiting these merchants.
We found several of these shops enticing:
M S Rau, 630 Royal Street (opening pic)
Moss Antiques, 411 Royal Street (pic #2)
Keil's Antiques, 325 Royal Street
Whisnant Galleries, 229 Royal Street (pic #3)
These particular antique shops were all within walking distance of each other. Stop by to admire some truly fine antiques, but come with deep pockets!
As soon as we got to New Orleans we went to our hotel located in the Garden District . dropped off our bags and headed off to the French Quarter. At first we drove around to see where we wanted to be then we parked the car and walked around. It was still pretty early when we got there and some places were just beginning to open. We walked a few blocks in every direction. I loved this area. Everyone knows or has heard of Bourbon Street but the French Quarter is much more than just that.
There are some beautiful homes, lots of small shops, and tons of balconies.
Many people thought that the French Quarter was affected during hurricane Katrina but it was mostly spared because it sits on high ground.
There's tons of entertainments and restaurants here. And of course lots of history.
It’s “The World’s Largest Block Party” and you’re invited. It’s open to everyone and there is something for everyone -- from kids to adults. The annual French Quarter Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2008.
From Friday, April 11 through Sunday, April 13 you can enjoy 250 hours of free entertainment, featuring more than 150 musical performances on fifteen stages throughout the French Quarter. Nearly 60 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, and elsewhere will make up the “World's Largest Jazz Brunch,” a signature event featuring authentic local cuisine from renowned area restaurants.
For an entire weekend the French Quarter is magically transformed into a vast outdoor mall offering the best in local musical entertainment, culinary delights and colorful, imaginative works of art that capture the joie de vivre (joy of life) that makes New Orleans the unique place it is. While enjoying the sounds of New Orleans music and the tastes of New Orleans’ celebrated cuisine, you can also enjoy the sights at your own pace. Our centuries-old French and Spanish architecture, with iron lace balconies looking out over Royal, Bourbon and other famous streets, is renowned the world over. You can take it all in on foot, which is the best way to really absorb it, and if you want to take the memories home with you, our talented artists have their works for sale on Jackson Square or in the galleries of Royal Street.
Coop's is a small restaurant/bar/pool hall across Decatur from Margaretaville. We were clued in to this establishment by one of the carriage drivers who congregate on Decatur at Jackson Square. He said the service is somewhat "rough" but the food was very good. We walked in with friends on a Saturday night and were greeted by a surly and sarcastic bartender and immediately left. But the next day my wife and I decided to give it another chance and stopped in for lunch. I'm so glad we did! Not only was the waiter who served us quite friendly and attentive, but we were delighted with the food we were served. I tried their rabbit and andouille gumbo and jambalaya and have to say it's the best rendition of each of those dishes I've tried in New Orleans. Often I find jambalaya to be too dry, but Coop's version was moist, and full of intense flavor. We enjoyed it so much we came back for dinner the next day, despite our vow to never eat at the same restaurant twice on this trip to New Orleans (our third since 2003). I do think the service is hit or miss, but the food is worth a surly bartender now and then.
The French Quarter is New Orleans' oldest and most lively neighborhood. This area was originally founded by the French in 1718 then taken over by Spain in 1763. Major fires burned much of the city in 1788 and 1794, making much of the old-European style architecture from the early 1800s. The oldest buildings that survive today were built in 1727; they are the old Ursuline Convent and and Madame John's Legacy.
The most famous street in New Orleans is certainly Bourbon Street with its 24/7 party atmosphere along with live jazz, strip shows, restaurants and hotels. Perhaps more impressive is Royal Street, long the most fashionable address in the French Quarter and home to countless historical structures with amazing wrought iron railings and balconies.
Music is the art of choice in the French Quarter, as this is where jazz was born. Bourbon Street has several jazz venues such as the Famous Door, the Storyville District, and Fritzels European Jazz Pub, while other musical interests can be found throughout this section of the city. Music is not the only art available as fine art and antiques can be found on Royal Street and street artists are common around Jackson Square.
What would the French Quarter be without its Creole and Cajun food? Creole is a mix of French, Spanish, and African influences and features rish dishes such as Oysters Rockefeller, Bananas Foster, and Shrimp Remoulade. For authentic Creole in a casual atmosphere try the Gumbo Shop and Napoleon House; the more formal establishments include Galatoire's and Antoine's. Cajun food is considered slightly lower class than Creole, but in my opinion it is even better offering such tasty dishes as jambalaya, andouille sausage, gumbo, etoufee, dirty rice, and crawfish boils.
Other things to do and see in the French Quarter are the Riverwalk, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Louis Armstrong Park, and the French Market.
This playground for adults has more to it than just bars. As one of the oldest cities in the US that has bounced from one European empire to another, it has more history concentrated in this few block area than most U.S. cities will ever have. To learn about the real New Orleans, you really must take a tour. Most tours will run you from $10-$20, but there are some free tours. Download a free Geogad French Quarter tour to your favorite MP3 player (www.geogad.com). Another free option is the free guided walking tours from the Jean Lafitte National Park (http://www.nps.gov/jela/french-quarter-site.htm), but they quickly fill up and you have to show up first thing in the morning at least half and hour before they open to reserve a place, if you are lucky. Jackson Square is a green patch among these crowded streets that is great for sunbathing. When it gets too hot, stop by the Cabildo museum to learn more about New Orleans history, and its virtual twin, the Presbytere, to view the Mardi Gras Museum. Don’t forget the free jazz concerts located near the old French Markets (http://www.nps.gov/jazz), which is like a hands-on and ears-on jazz experience that compliments the Jazz Museum, which is housed at the old U.S. Mint. Due to Hurricane Katrina, the Old Mint is closed for repairs.
But of the all the things that you have to do, the most enjoyable is sampling the local food. Food in New Orleans is respected by everyone. Almost every person raised around New Orleans has a dish that they make that they are extremely proud of. You can imagine how good the chefs have to be in a city that loves food this much. Check out great restaurants for top-of-the-line like K Paul’s for great Cajan and Creole, the Acme Oyster House for fresh oysters, the Central Grocery for huge Italian muffuletta sandwiches, and save room for coffee and beignets at that French Quarter institution, Cafe du Monde. Open 24 hours, it serves this deep fried, powered sugar-covered treats. For late night drinks, try an original Hurricane from Pat O’Briens.
The narrow streets and cramped buildings can make photography difficult, so as soon as you've had your latte and beignet, wander the streets aimlessly. A full day plus some can be spend wandering the French Quarter looking at the mostly Spanish style facades with ornate ironwork. The French Street names are on the signs, but many buildings have the Spanish occupation names as well.
Walking tours are offered by many guides and offer opportunities to view and visit New Orleans from many perspectives. Most walking tours begin in the early morning while it is still cool enough to enjoy the scenery without melting onto the sidewalk. Likewise, Carriage tours are also available throughout the day and evening since the horse assumes all of the effort.
I elected to forego hiring a guide and hit the road on my own. Early mornings in the French Quarter left me with streets nearly empty compared to the heavy pedestrian traffic of the evening and late night revelers. I also found my early morning walks brought me into contact with many local service people who were more than willing to share their expert knowledge of the city and its sights. Where was the best local food market to be found? Right where the sidewalk sweeper said it was. Where could I find the best breakfast bagels? Exactly where the Postal Carrier offered. And how about a local neighborhood restaurant away from the crowds? Try checking with the gentleman jogger taking a break along his course that followed the St. Charles Street Trolley line. Everyone I spoke with was not only helpful, but also welcoming. Bon et honnete les gens.
With my fondness for local architecture, I set out one day to photograph some of the ornamental ironwork and balcony gardens tucked away on the small residential streets in the French Quarter.
This is a beautiful historic center that most people associate with New Orleans. The buildings here date to the times when this city was under French and Spanish rule. Many of them are well maintained and a joy to see. There are a lot of great restaurants and bars here, and every year this area becomes the centerpoint of the carnival Mardi Gras.
As you walk away from the crazy Bourbon Street, the area gets quieter and you'll start to see many art galleries and antique shops.
I went inside several galleries, and now I have a new favorite artist !
There are so many things to see in the French Quarter. Every corner brought a whole new street to explore. There were times I walked down the same street more than once but it looked different everytime because there was so much to see. Oh my aching feet!
One of the most charming (but also wildest) area in the US is located in the heart of New Orleans: "the French Quarter" also known in French as "le Vieux Carre", tthe old square (as in square shapped), a rectangular area neighbourhood that has Bourbon Street as a main axis. This landmark of New Orleans has architecture you’ll find nowhere else in the country with its little houses ornated with iron balconies, patios, hidden courtyards… Funny detail… it should really be called the "Spanish Quarter" because the city was almost completely destroyed by 2 fires in 1788 and 1794 when it was under Spanish rule. The Governor, Don Francisco Luis Hector, had it rebuilt in Spanish style and most of the buildings in the French Quarter were built at that time. Since its creation, New Orleans had a reputation of being a very tolerant city… maybe a little much for certains and you can witness it during Mardi Gras but also, every night on Bourbon Street. So… you’ve been warned. If seeing young ladies take off their shirts and bras so they can get a plastic beads from unknown guys who are having a drink on one of the balconies… if feeling like you're in a live edition of "Girls Gone Wild" is not your cup of tea, try to avoid the area during the night and especially the week-end. I think you can put that on account of the “Hurricane” the local cocktai, that you can recognize easily thanks to its red colour and it should be served in a glass that vaguely looks like a giant champagne flute.
In the 20 years I've been acquainted with New Orleans, I've yet to visit the French Quarter and NOT see some poor hapless idiot gripping one of those streetlamps (just like you see in the cartoon postcards), spilling his guts out onto the street.
The weird thing about drinking in New Orleans is that the alcohol feels different - instead of throwing up and reading that as a sign that the night's over, you somehow become reborn, able to rededicate yourself to more obnoxious behavior on Round #2 toward Intoxication.
Whether by day or night, you'll see street performers and mimes on the hustle, watch transsexuals catwalking down Bourbon to reach their area of town (past the 800 block), catch strippers in sleazy bar entrances (long mirrors are situated at the entrances so you can see them do their stuff - sometimes a single dancer is hired just to lie face down on the mirror), or simply observe your fellow visitor laying prone on the street or catching a few zzzzzzzs on a streetside curb, in presumably in between drinking sessions.
If you're lucky, you'll even get to watch the police holding back hecklers as the Jesus Freaks quietly picket outside an establishment, condemning the revelers to an afterlife in Hell without a get-out-of-jail pass.