A Tour of New Orleans' French Quarter
When you arrive in the French Quarter in New Orleans, you are immediately transported to another time and place and fall in love with the city. The city is bursting with unique history and culture, with its fantastic architecture, narrow little streets and the charming gas lamps on the balconies, and the best way to get to know it is to explore on foot.
Start the day at Jackson Square, the cultural center of the French Quarter. The statue of General Andrew Jackson on his horse looks over the Mississippi River with the St. Louis Cathedral as its backdrop. This gorgeous square is full of music, art and great photo opportunities. Even on a weekday morning, as you stop to listen to a group of musicians, you may hear another group on the next street corner. What a festive atmosphere it is, as you peruse the local artists creating and selling their works around the square.
The entire square is surrounded by historic buildings, restaurants and museums and is one of the most popular destinations in the French Quarter. To walk throughout the French Quarter without turning your head to admire each structure or every window shop is really hard.
Café du Monde and French Market
Take a quick walk across the street to the famous Café du Monde and enjoy the fabulous café au lait and beignets. Even if you get powdered sugar everywhere, it is worth it, and that coffee is so smooth. Continue just a little downriver to see the historic “French Market” consisting of six blocks of clothing, book, candy stores and the like and little cafés.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, there is no better place than New Orleans' legendary French Market to sample some local flavors in a relaxed atmosphere. Here, one of the oldest farmer's markets in the country has grown into a hot spot for local food stands and cafés, which offer tasty Cajun dishes freshly prepared right in front of you. Get yourself a seafood po-boy, a bowl of jambalaya or etouffee, then stroll through the adjacent flea market to find some of the most unusual souvenirs! Some of Louisiana's tasty Cajun sauces and spices can also be purchased here, as well as beautifully crafted hand fans and Mardi Gras masks.
Shopping on Royal Street
Many people may have only heard of Bourbon Street before coming to New Orleans, but Royal Street is worth exploring. You can spend hours looking at incredible antiques, galleries that feature local and international art, houseware stores and more. It is a charming, tranquil shopping experience, as on every block there was a different musician playing. International visitors can even get a sales tax refund on their purchases, making shopping here tax free! The refund process is easy; find out more at www.louisianataxfree.com.
Music on Frenchmen Street
Of course, you can’t leave New Orleans without going to a music club, so as the sun goes down, head to Frenchmen Street, about a block outside the official French Quarter. There are countless music halls and jazz venues to choose from, including The Spotted Cat Music Club. The sign outside the door said the music had begun at 4 p.m. and would go until 2 a.m., and this was a Monday! What an incredible city.