If I had to describe it in our own lingo, I might call it a local "open air" market. It runs from St. Ann Street to Barracks Street in the French Quarter. It's no fancy place, but quite colorful with a diverse assortment of goods from hot sauce to clothes and purses to canned alligator meat to fresh produce and flowers. Prices are very reasonable.
Even though it's the in the French Quarter, this isn't a touristy place as most locals shop here for fresh produce and such.
What to buy Alligator was the most unusual item I saw. There were also a couple of fruits I'd never seen before, namely a "mirlitone".
What to pay It depends on what treasures you find. Take cash as there are several vendors and most of the goods don't carry a very high price.
If you like city market places this one will not disappoint. It's busy and there are tons of vendors selling some fairly interesting junk. It's worth walking around even if you are not really looking to buy anything.
What to buy They had great colorful masks, surely a big number when the city's Mardi Gras is in swing.
Bric-à-brac refers to items of low value, which are typically sold in a street market style setting. This is the ultimate definition of what is available in the French Market outdoor shops in New Orleans. Mardi Gras masks and beads, t-shirts galore, knick knacks, trinkets, and other things are available. There are also some local artists' work, which appear to be much more valuable than the Bric-à-brac label I gave to the entire shop.
Your best bet is to just walk around for an hour or so and figure out if there is anything you can not live without.
What to buy Bric-à-brac
What to pay $3 to $500
The fleur de lis represents the French influence in New Orleans history. You'll find this symbol imprinted or rendered on many items throughout Forever New Orleans: Christmas ornaments (pic #3), napkins and notecards, mugs, tshirts, jewelry and even pillows.
Colorful women's purses, silky blouses and clever home decor accessories seem well chosen and attractive. Specialty coffees and other foods can be taken home to capture the flavor of this city, too!
I really wanted to revisit this shop before departing New Orleans (pic #2), but time would not permit. However, if you make it one of your first shopping stops, I don't think you will regret it.
The French Market is really cool because it has so many different things. From jewelry, to paintings, to wallets, to sculptures, to drums, etc., etc., the French Market has the variety you need. Prices can be a little high, but then you can also find some steals. Don't be afraid to beargain with the sellers there. Everytime I have gone with someone who bought something, the price was argued and we got them to lower the prices. The entire place is underneath a big tent and it can get real hot at some times during the year.
What to buy Jewelry is the main item, but there is just way too much to list here.
What to pay How much you got?
You'll adore the French Market in the French Quarter. It's a funky, eclectic mix of local cuisine and cheap souvenirs. Nathalie especially loved getting a pair of duck-shaped sunglasses. For her, a trip to New Orleans without a stop at the French Market is unthinkable!
What to buy Don't buy postcards until you can get yourself to this neighborhood. The cards for sale in most shops along Bourbon Street pale in comparison to the class of souvenirs you can get along the strip between the French Market and Jackson Square. Trust me on this; I did lots of comparison shopping!
The Old French Market is really old, actually the oldest public Market that still exists in USA as it stands there since 1791. I can imagine how important it should be in the old days as a grand trading spot.
In our days it is just a tourist trap, full of junk souvenirs for the tourists and not local flavor at all unless you like to see other tourists buying $5 tshirts, fake sunglasses, beads and purses
There are some cafes, and some stores with Cajun spices, crafts, candies, jewelery, cook books etc
Flea market (Saturday and Sundays) has all kinds of vendors with the best bargains for souvenirs. Check here BEFORE you buy anywhere else.
What to buy Depending on your personal preferences, you can get 7 t-shirts for $ 20, masks and boas and colorful pins to wear that are made out of plastic.
What to pay Minimal
When we had our orientation lecture, they told us that the French Market would be open every day, but the weekends - particularly Saturday - would be better.
I often go to the Big Pine Flea Market in the Florida Keys. They have everything from seconds on clothing to binoculars, antiques and jewelry to tomatoes. And I like to browse among the stands - it is interesting even if I don't buy anything. So I thought the French Market would be something like that. I was disappointed.
Even though the website says:
Vendors from all over the world bring their merchandise to this open-air shoppers' paradise in the French Market's Community Flea Market. Handmade clothing as well as fine silver and jewelry can be found in this eclectic setting open 7 days a week
I felt that what was for sale was all samey schlock - nothing of interest even if someone were to give it to me. All new stuff.
The Farmer's Market section was much more interesting where they have various kinds of food Unfortunately, this section of the market seems to get smaller each year.
We did buy some pralines here from the Evans stand which were excellent. But Bob prefers to use a regular market with more reasonable prices when he actually shops for food.
What to buy Some of the shops include
1021 N. Peters
African Art offers a divine atmosphere and feeling of being in Africa! Specializing in African artifacts, wonderful wood carvings, exotic oils, incense and more.
For over 16 years Art Attacks has featured posters, limited edition prints and one-of-a-kind items by local artists.
Authentic, primitive handcrafts from all over Latin America. Hammocks, Panama hats, leather handbags, cotton cloth and ceramic wall hangings.
Parker Pottery and Craft Gallery
1023 N. Peters
See the original pottery workings of New Orleans artist Robert Parker. The gallery also includes jewelry, wind chimes, magnets, painting and prints. All handcrafted by local artists.
French Market Gift Shop
(504) 522-6004 or (800) 433-6004
Postcards, figurines, charms, framed prints, candles, keychains, coffee mugs and other New Orleans souvenirs.
You can also get spices, seafood and cookbooks in the Farmer's Market section.
What to pay I understand that you can bargain here, but I didn't try it.
Provisioners of produce, housewares and crafts have been selling their wares at the French Market for centuries - it's the oldest continually-operated market in the country. It's here that both locals and tourists alike go for all the fresh and packaged ingredients that make New Orleans cuisine the world-famous experience that it is. Tomatoes, okra, fruits, fresh seafood, rice and more hot sauces and seasonings than you can shake a catfish at can all be found one end of this bustling open-air structure. The other end is best described as a flea market with offerings ranging from very tacky to tasteful. T-shirts, hats, jewelery, leather goods, breezy peasant-type clothing and souvenirs of all types can be had for prices easier on the pocket than at many other shops in the Quarter. It's a lot more fun, too!
While the French Market area includes Cafe du Monde, some speciality shops and a couple of open-air cafes, I'll cover those highlights in other tips.
What to buy At the French Market, spices, hot sauces, chicory coffee, and other Creole and Cajun ingredients. Also small souvenir-type items.
What to pay Less than at most other shops with similar merchandise
Of course just about every shop in New Orleans has the usual tourist gifts. Some of them, especially the T-Shirt shops are fantastic.
In Decatur Street we did some gift shopping. Bought a pipe for a friend from the Happy Hookah shop, got some funny T-Shirts in the t-shirt shop (best one said "I got Bourbon Faced on Sh*t Street") and a nice ornament for me of a guy leaning against a lamp, playing the Sax on Bourbon Street. Plus I also bought a mask the Halloween party VT meet in Orlando.
In fact New Orleans is a great place to buy masks and colourful beads. Beads are a Mardi Gras custom in New Orleans.
Anyway, I found the French Markets that run parallel to the river the best place for a wander. We walked through the French Markets all the way back from town to near our accommodation in Frenchmen Street. A nice way to pass a slow lazy hour :o)
The French Market also has sidewalk food that you can buy and sit and eat in the shade. Nice and cheap and a great way to enjoy people watching.
1. Designer-inspired purses, wallets, sunglasses.
2. Framed and/or matted New Orleans prints
3. "I've been to New Orleans" t-shirts and the like
5. Jazz CDs and cassettes
6. Feather Boas
7. Mardi Gras beads
8. Hot sauce
10. African and African-inspired home decor
11. Oil and acrylic paintings
12. Bourbon Street street signs
13. Artists to draw a caricature of you and your friends
14. Other things "New Orleans" to hang on your wall.
As of April 29, 2008 the Farmer's Market is under renovation but once it opens you'll find locally grown produce, prepared meats, sauces, etc.
What to pay Merchandise at the French Market tends to be fairly priced and the bottom line is you'll pay the money as long as you think there's value to you.