This popular market dates back to 1791. If you happen to visit some museums or go on a historical tour of the French Quarter, you're pretty much sure to hear stories about how people would walk over to the market on a daily basis to buy fresh baguettes (most houses in the French Quarter didn't even have a bread oven because of how convient it was to get it at the market). Today, the focus of the French Market isn't so much on fresh produces anymore, but it's still lots of fun to walk though the stalls of this huge market (it covers about five blocks along Decatur Street) and soak up the atmosphere. You can buy souvenirs at the flea market, stop for a drink or lunch at one of the cafes, and enjoy some live jazz music. To be honest, I didn't get much shopping done at the market, but I did enjoy having a drink on the outdoor patio at the Market Cafe where a really cool band was playing. You can even hear some of it in the short video I've uploaded!
The French Market has existed at this site for over 200 years (1791). Native Americans were the first to recognize that this spot, on the banks of the Mississippi River, would make a grand trading post.
Following the years of Spanish and French control, it became of prime importance in the purchase of the Louisiana territory by President Thomas Jefferson
African-Americans brought calas (a type of fritter), caffeine and pralines to the early market; while the Choctaws, traveling from north of Lake Pontchartrain, offered herbs, spices and handmade beads.
As it evolved, Gascon butchers, Italian and Spanish fruitsellers, German vegetable women and Moors bringing trinkets from the Holy Land helped to create the CULTURAL GUMBO it is today.
pic #2 Entrance denoting the French Market
pic #2 Joan of Arc statue, welcoming one and all
I thought it was interesting to note that even in the mid-1800's coffee drinking was a favorite thing to do here. In fact, Cafe du Monde, where you can grab a cafe-au-lait and sugary beignet, is the oldest tenant in the French Market.
In the mid-1800's a Bazaar Market was built; grocery goods were sold in Red stores and in 1924, a farmers market with stalls was added. This rich heritage of commerce grew into what is now a 'cultural, commercial and entertainment treasure'.
*For more info. on The French Market, go to the website below where you'll find a detailed history of this site
The French Market is an open-air market full of fresh produce and local foods as well as a flea market. It features items that can be found in many tourist shops for a fraction of the cost. Good deals can be found on jewelry, t-shirts, bags, and books among other things. A fun place to look around.
New Orleans’ French Market has existed in this French Quarter site since 1791 and has remained true to its authentic mission for 200 years. It is America’s oldest public market and to this day plays an important role in the local economy.
Walk up and down the five blocks of specialty retail shops (a great place to find that one-of-a-kind souvenir for the folks back home) and a community flea market showcasing locally made jewelry, clothing and artifacts.
The French Market started in 1813 as a butcher shop. It still stands today and you can get anything from apples to gator- on- a- stick. Yep, pieces of alligator meat stuck on a skewer. Come here to get your authentic cajun and creole eats along with fresh fruits and vegetables.
There is also a flea market here, which is interesting. Anybody can bring anything down here and try to sell it!
The market is always open, but the flea market closes at dusk.
The Post Katrina opening date is November 22nd, 2005
The French Market is purported to be the oldest City Market in America Included in the French Market is a Farmer's Market section which has food items. Unfortunately, this section of the market seems to get smaller each year.
We did buy some pralines here. But Bob prefers to use a regular market with more reasonable prices when he actually shops for food.
Some of the merchants in the Farmer's market (which is closer to Canal Street than the French Market area) are
F & M Produce - Fresh produce, including garlic and pepper strings and unpackaged fresh and dry herbs.
Mama San's - Asian cookbooks along with spices, sauces and marinades.
John's Place - A variety of pumpkins will be on sale soon.
A Tisket A Tasket - Cajun and Creole gift baskets filled with New Orleans products.
Old New Orleans French Market Seafood Co. - fresh shrimp, oysters and fish, boiled shrimp, crayfish and crabs , the sale of packaged hot sauce, dry packaged pre-seasoned products such as fish fry and shrimp fry, dry packaged mixes containing beans and peas, and packaged spices.
N'Awlins Cajun and Creole Spice - Cajun jambalaya, red beans, dirty rice and gumbo mix, along with plenty of spices
Loretta's - pralines and muffins.
Paradise Garden - plants and garden decorations
the french market is a historic site located just north of jackson square on decatur street in the french quarter. today it is a collection of stalls with vendors selling local crafts and flea market junk. there are a couple of venders that sell worth while souvenirs and crafts but most of the stalls sell flea market items. the french market is still an interesting place to wander through when in the french quarter.
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 began as a Native American trading post, historians have made the claim that the French Market is the oldest public market in existence in the U.S. Struggles between cultures, changes in government, and natural phenomenon have tested the resilience of it's vendors. The official site says:
"As for the confusion of tongues in the market, it was simply delicious. French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and "Gumbo" contended with each other for supremacy" ..." There are Gascon butchers, and the Italian and Spanish fruit vendors, and the German vegetable women; there are Moors, with their strings of beads and crosses, fresh from the Holy Land . . . Chinese and Hindu, Jew and Teuton, French and Creole, Malay, Irish, and English, all uniting in an ceaseless babble of tongues that is simply bewildering."
Others who frequented the early market included African-Americans selling coffee, pralines and calas, the rice fritter popular in 19th century New Orleans, and the Choctaw from north of Lake Pontchartrain who brought varieties of herbs, spices and handmade crafts.
I would have thought that this might have been an actual flea market type of things where one might buy antiques or other funky used items. It is billed as an
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
But what it really is IMHO is nothing but institutionalized souvenier stands. It is interesting to see once, but I didn't buy anything here, except Pralines from the Farmer's Market in the next block.
Post Katrina: The French Market is open for business!
To date, Café du Monde, Aunt Sally’s Creole Pralines, What’s new, Head to Toe, Bijouterie Gift Shop, The Little Toy Shop, All that Jazz, and Café Gumbolaya restaurant, are all open and more will be ready in the next few weeks.
The Flea Market is seeing the return of more vendors each week.
After stopping by Cafe Du Monde, this is an interesting place to wander around. Within the market, there are a number of independent little places to shop - you'll see groceries, food, knick-knacks, etc. Basically, it's a large open-air flea market with lots of local color. I made the mistake of trying some sort of voodoo hot sauce - it blew apart the inside of my face for the next few hours :)
While we didn't find anything to buy (outside of gatorade to soothe my aching cheek), there was plenty of neat stuff to look at - recommended if you're at all into shopping locals items.
We came across the market and it was a fun place to browse around and pick up any souvenir you wanted. Also good place to grab something to eat or drink.. We did all 3 there .. but mostly it was fun to look around. It felt safe and not crazy crowded. My hubby found a spot to sit down while I continued looking around. Prices seemed better here too if you have some souvenir shopping to do.