The French Quarter is the historic center of New Orleans. It is famous for lively nightlife, colorful building, jazz clubs, great restaurants and rowdy bars.
The distinctive architecture is the first thing that is obvious when walking into the French Quarter. Many of the buildings are brightly colored and the balconies have ornate ironwork with hanging plants.
Jackson Square is a historic park in the French Quarter that is named after Andrew Jackson, a hero of the Battle of New Orleans. A state of him on horseback is located in the center of the park. On the back side of the park is St. Louis Cathedral which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and is the oldest continuously used Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, originally built in 1727.
The square is known for its open-air art gallery where local artist paint, draw and display their artwork outside the park’s iron fence. In front of the park there are horse drawn carriages lined up for tours of the French Quarter.
New Orleans style cuisine
Louisiana is famous for Cajun and Creole styles cuisine. Cajun and Creole food are both native to Louisiana and can be found in New Orleans restaurants but they are from two different cultures.
Cajun food is rural food from the bayous of Louisiana and is a combination of French and Southern cuisines. Cajun originates from the Lafayette area which is northwest of New Orleans. Cajun food uses onions, celery, bell pepper plus garlic, parsley with lots of spices and served with rice and bean.
Creole food is city food created in New Orleans with French, African and Native American influences. Creole uses rich sauces, tomatoes and local seafood.
Make sure to try both styles of cuisine when visiting New Orleans, they are both great!
One of the most popular restaurants for tourists is Café du Monde. It is famous for coffee (café au Lait) and beignets (square shaped pieces of dough that are deep fried and liberally covered with powdered sugar. Going to Café du Monde should be part of any visit to New Orleans but if you are eating there for breakfast, get there early because the line can be very long.
New Orleans Entertainment
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and the impact that it has had on the city can be seen everywhere in the French Quarter. If you visit New Orleans without listening to jazz then you are missing out of one of the most important elements of the New Orleans culture. Luckily, listening to jazz is easy to do in New Orleans because there are plenty of jazz clubs to choose from.
Apart from the professional musicians that play in the clubs, there are lots of street singers and bands that play for tips. It is unlikely that you will walk through the French Quarter without a singer or band entertaining people on the streets.
Bourbon Street is probably the French Quarter’s most famous attraction. The street is only thirteen block long but it is a thirteen block party of bars, live music, restaurants and strip clubs where the party is not limited to inside the buildings. The party is in the building, on the streets and on the balconies above the streets. In Orleans Parish (most of the city) it is legal to drink in the streets so it means that many bars are open 24-hours.
There are some elements of the French Quarter that are noticeably part of its specific culture. My closing photos are images of the French Quarter that reflect those elements.
The French Quarter is a very unique place. It has its own culture with distinctive architecture, its own style of cuisine, home grown music and a freedom to express.
I have been to the French Quarter many times and I have always enjoyed my time there. It is a fun place to be even if you don’t intend on spending the night on Bourbon Street. It has an energy that just makes you want to relax and have fun. The food is great and the music is enjoyable.