From the Mardi Gras festivals to a little ‘Je ne sais quoi’ flamboyance, New Orleans is certainly very unique in comparison to other cities around the United States. What better way to experience this diversity than by taking a self-guided walking tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans (NOLA), ultimately the focal point of this beautiful city. Having visited New Orleans in 2011 but rarely ventured out to explore the true vibrancy in ‘NOLA’, I was excited to head back here despite this being a trip primarily related to work. There is always time to explore a city regardless of whether you are going for business or pleasure right!
Let’s face it, New Orleans has it all! And by that I mean a distinctive range of attractions, highlights and landmarks for every (and I mean EVERY!) cultural dimension. The French Quarter is a perfect district within New Orleans to stereotypically identify this cultural diversity, plus enhancing the French style and suave that we all associate with a Parisienne landscape. Perhaps the Paris of days gone by can be compared with New Orleans as you wander along the streets and capture the distinctive architecture that is still a key component of NOLA’s infrastructure.
French Quarter Architecture
Walking through the French Quarter, the most noticeable feature that dominates the landscape is the intricate details of the architecture. Balconies are prevalent features on the majority of buildings around the French Quarter, with the detailed ironwork providing an iconic representation of the French flair and ornate culture that we all adore.
I enjoyed spending an afternoon ‘getting lost’ along the side streets off Decatur and Canal Street, as this provides the real French Quarter exuberance that is iconically referenced throughout the architectural genius.
Whether it’s a French inspired restaurant or a bar along Bourbon Street, the architecture surrounding the French Quarter is everything you would associate with European grandeur. Another feature which seems to be on every street corner is the myriad of courtyards that are kept in pristine condition providing a reflection on local business and home owners who want to portray their French panache.
The vibrant choice of color schemes is another feature only a city like New Orleans could successfully achieve. Strolling along Decatur Street, I took a moment to try and count the number of bold colors used in the architectural design, yet despite my efforts the best way to summarize is that the French Quarter has managed a true multi-color facade that again reflects French style.
If perusing architectural masterpieces is not really your idea of a fun afternoon, perhaps taking some time to experience the local offerings available at the French Market will entice you to explore more of the French Quarter. The French Market is located on North Peters Street and actually is in a perfect location to visit much of the French Quarter.
The French Market dates back to 1791 and is the oldest public market across the States. Yet another perfect example of quintessential New Orleans, this open-air market scene is reminiscent of many markets you would generally associate with across the pond.
The main market area provides visitors with a variety of local cajun and creole dining options, along with a myriad of stalls selling local produce and stereotypical New Orleans memorabilia.
The community style flea market is a great spot to find a real gem of a souvenir. Perhaps an alligator head would be a great gift for a loved one or maybe a Mardi Gras mask would be appropriate. Whatever New Orleans delight interests you the most, there is likely to be something that will perfectly represent this inside the flea market.
New Orleans’ Finest Cuisine
New Orleans may be famous for many reasons, but the cuisine available here has to be near the very top of the list! I can honestly attest that if you do nothing else in NOLA apart from sample the amazing cuisine, you will have a memorable experience that will make you want to return. Yes…IT’S THAT GOOD!
The French Quarter is a perfect focal point to visit in order to sample some of the finest cuisine. Without giving too much away, the French Market is a great spot to sample ‘gator on a stick’ or perhaps ‘roasted corn on the cob’.
Oysters, crawfish and many more seafood delights are all available inside the confines of the French Market but to start your day, you need to head down N. Peters Street and sample the authentic Café du Monde and their amazing beignets.
Don’t let the beignets completely fill your sweet tooth fix for the day, because later you can experience an extremely tasty buttermilk drop from Wink’s Bakery on Decatur Street which runs parallel to N. Peters St.
The melting pot atmosphere that we all associate with New Orleans is typified throughout the French Quarter. From the bohemian royalty portrayed along Royal Street, to the exuberant lifestyle exuded by locals and visitors experiencing Bourbon Street, the French Quarter is a hub not to be missed on your next trip to New Orleans.