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French Quarter Architecture by Daylight
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.
- Hiking and Walking
The heart of New Orleans, the French Quarter
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.
The French Quarter is the original part of the city of New Orleans. Its buidlings are all historic and it is home to most of the city's hotels and many restaurants. It is nearly impossible to drive and park here so walking is best. Spend a day or two walking the streets and visiting the many boutiques and shops, or just sit in a cafe and watch people go by while you listen to live music.
No matter what the people say French Quarter is the epicenter of New Orleans, the beautiful historic center. This is good and bad at the same time of course :) It’s a rectangular area (le Vieux Carre in French, the old square) not really big so you can easily walk from one side to the other. Most of the tourists are on Bourbon street of course but don’t miss the area around it.
During the day you can enjoy the architecture of the district, the colorful old buildings with the pastel colors, the detailed iron balconies, the tiny shops, you can check the museums of the area(Cabildo and Presbytere), the St.Louis Cathedral at Jackson square, go for a coffee at the famous café du Monde (or other more peaceful ones), Royal street is full of art shops and galleries, there are many restaurants around of course so don’t forget to taste the local food, you can go down and walk next to the Mississippi river, I think you can skip the overrated French Market, you can also catch the free ferry to other side of the river or take a cruise with a steam boat! For us it was ideal having French Quarter as a base but if you have a car you may have problem with parking, it’s rare and expensive here.
It was early in the 18th century (1718) when the France established the French Quarter but became Spanish in 1762 and most of the architecture elements (iron balconies, walled courtyards) come from that period. 2 big fires destroyed the district completely in 1788 & 1794 so most of the old building we see today are after that time.
…Then later in the night choose a jazz venue to end the day in New Orleans style. Bourbon street is nice to walk through just to see the crazy vibe on it with all the happy people going up and down the street from one club to the other.
There are some walking tour at French quarter you may interested about but as we had plenty of days there and a lot of books with information we did it alone.
- Historical Travel
historic buildings at French Quarter
It seems every building at French Quarter has a story to tell, you go to a restaurant and you are realize that the building is there from 19th century, many of them has some weird/funny stories on the walls, some of these stories may be true some just for the tourists to feel the New Orleans “haunted” vibe :)
The overrated restaurant The Court of Two Sisters(pic 1) is housed on a building (613 Royal St.) that dates from 1832 and took its name from two sisters (born in 1858&1860), they lived there with their rich Creole family and had a curio store that outfitted city’s finest women with expensive perfumes and formal gowns from Paris. They died the same year(1944) and lie side by side at St.Louis Cemetery #3.
At 417 Royal street (hm, I guess we spent hours on this street while others were having fun at Bourbon!) is Brennan’s restaurant(pic 2), it was built in 1855 by Rillieux and a sign inform us that the chess champion Paul Charles Murphy lived here.
Everyone knows Pat O’Brien pub(718 St.Peter St. pic 3) because the people go there to drink as much hurricane drinks as they can. What some people skip is that it was built in 1790 and some popular plays were played here and some claim that the first grand opera in USA was perfomed inside here!
A few steps away is Antoine’s restaurant. The building was built in 1829 and the Antoine family owns/runs this (expensive) restaurant for more than 150 years!!!
At 716 Dauphine st. you can see Le Pretre Mansion. It was built In 1836 in greek revival style and the legends wants one of the first renters was a wealthy turk with many servants and women (supposedly stolen from a sultan). As expected many rich locals were visiting the house for some “wild nights” until loud shrieks came from inside and the day after the neighbors found the turk and the girls dead lying in a pool of blood! If you go on haunted tour they’ll tell you that some nights music and shrieks still come from the house, I didn’t hear anything no matter how hard I tried but it was early in the morning when we walked by… :)
Back to Bourbon street at 941 we saw Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop(pic 4) that claim to be the oldest building in the area!!! It used to be headquarters of the pirates(Lafitte was the leader of them). In our days you can go there and enjoy a local beer, my photo was taken early in the morning when it was closed but it gets busy later in the day.
Finally, at 632 Dumaine St. is Madame John’s Legacy(pic 5) another structure that supposed to be the oldest one in the area but it seems that most of it was burnt down during the fire in 1788 but the building stood there since 1728, can you imagine? New Orleans itself was founded in 1718! It is open for tours but we didn’t have the chance to go inside as we passed by before 9.00am
- Historical Travel
Look for hidden courtyards in the French Quarter
If you can swing it, try to catch a glimpse into an actual residential courtyard. This is not easy to do, and the buildings themselves are so often deceiving from the outside. But if you catch a resident opening up the gate, ask if you can take a peek inside - you'll be stunned to see a fountain with running water and lush vegetation and bougainvillea spilling out from every balcony facing into the interior courtyard - it's like something out of a movie, and everything you'd secretly imagined a French Quarter courtyard to be.
A friend of mine was renting one such apartment on Royal Street, and I had the privilege of watching it while he was on vacation one time. It was a thrill to turn the key in the gate and open it up to a secret garden inside...I felt transported back in time! My mother and sister were visiting me during that summer and I brought them there to see for themselves how charming life in the French Quarter could be, once you get past the lewdness of the superficial.
Appreciate the French Quarter by day
Established in 1718 by the French as a military outpost, the French Quarter passed into Spanish hands about half way through the 18th century. Soon thereafter, the Americans took over (thanks to the Louisiana Purchase, mon dieu, what a bargain for us!!!)
One of the most ironic things about the French Quarter is that it is (architecturally speaking), more Spanish and American than it is French! It is also one of the most widely recognized places simply by seeing a photograph of one of its narrow streets. The architecture is reknown for its colorful and close-knit buildings with wooden doors, shuttered windows and the beautiful iron balconies, many with plants spilling out over the grillwork to add to its charm.
The city gives a respectful nod to this trifecta inheritance by maintaining attractive stone and cast iron signs which you'll find on the street corners, inlaid into the buildings themselves - some in Spanish, French and English.
People Watching in the French Quarter
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.
When In New Orleans you have to go to the French Quarter. It is the neighbourhood where the bars and the distinctive buildings are.
It is also the oldest neighbourhood of New Orleans. This is where the city was born .
The area is authentic, not a reproduction of history. Many of the buildings here date back to the 1700's. But most of the architecture is Spanish, not French. That is because the city was destroyed by a huge fire and rebuilt in when it was in spanish hands.
The French Quarter
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.
You Have To See It To Believe It
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.
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
exchange alley now called exchange place was the site of slave auctions prior to the civil war. the importation of african slaves was abolished in 1806 but the auction of slaves continued on this site up to the outbreak of the civil. war. when slavery was abolished in the northern states many slaveholders in maryland "sold their slaves south" to the slave exchanges in natchez and new orleans.
- Historical Travel
statues in French quarter
Walking around the French quarter we saw many statues, some of them were just nice sculptures but some other were dedicated to some historical figures, just some of them here
Going down to French Market you will pass (along Decatur street) from the statue of Joan Of Arc, an impressive golden statue on a horse that dominates the spot. The statue was a gift from the people of France in 1958 and it’s a replica of the one you can see in Place des Pyramids in Paris.
Opposite Peaches record store is the statue of Jean Bapriste Le Moyne de Bienville (1680-1767). He was the founder of New Orleans in 1717 and was governor of Louisiana for a total of 30 years! Just in case you don’t already know he named the city "La Nouvelle-Orléans" in honor of Duke of Orleans Philippe II.
There are also many small fountains with nice jazz figures, so typical for New Orleans, isn’t it? So touristic I know, but we loved all of them
French Quarter Festival
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.
When we visited New Orleans in 1950, we had not yet been to Europe. My dad was fascinated by all the wrought iron balcony railings.
In 1718, the French Quarter started out as French, but then in 1762 the indifferent Louis XV transferred Louisiana to his Bourbon cousin Charles III of Spain. Spanish rule lasted for four decades, so actually the French Quarter has been Spanish almost as long as it was French.
The layout of the quarter is French (Vieux Carré translates to "old square."), but since the city was burned down in 1788, and much of it again in 1794, the Spanish gave us the famous architecture including the common-wall plastered brick houses, walled courtyards and graceful wrought iron balconies, hinges and locks in curvilinear shapes.
- Food and Dining
- Historical Travel
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