To really explore the French Quarter and the immediate adjoining neighborhoods would take an entire week…and we didn’t have a week in New Orleans. However, we did see a lot of sights in this area in the 2 ½ days that we spent here. As you’ll see later, we also spent a day in the Garden District…but that’s another story.
I love trains and trolleys! New Orleans has a great trolley system and while it’s not lightning fast, it’s convenient and inexpensive to use. This is the Canal Street Streetcar or trolley line. There are 5 Streetcar lines in New Orleans and we used 3 of them during our visit.
The standard fare for a 1-way fare on a bus or a streetcar is $1.25. This could add up if, as a tourist, you were getting on and off the streetcars to sight see. However, the standard fare for seniors (65 and older) is 40 cents and transfers are free. Even better, there is a daily “Jazzy Pass” that allows for unlimited rides on the system for only $3.00 a day. We took full advantage of the “Jazzy Pass” on our 3rd and 4th days in New Orleans.
To learn more about New Orleans Streetcar or Trolley System, just go to http://www.norta.com/Maps-Schedules/Streetcar-Schedules-Maps.aspx.
This is a street view of the French Quarter in the morning… Peace had once again descended on the city!
For the uninitiated, The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. After New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the city developed around the Vieux Carré, ("Old Square" in English), which was a central square. However, most of the present-day historic buildings were constructed during the late 18th century, during the city's period of Spanish rule, and they reflect Spanish colonial architecture.
Street musicians and entertainers start early in the French Quarter. The variety and quality of entertainment varies widely but many ‘acts’ or performances are quite good…or at least they’re very novel or quirky! These street performers live off the tips they receive and the better ones appear to do very well indeed!
The French Quarter has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, with numerous contributing buildings that are separately deemed significant. Because of its distance from areas where the levee was breached during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as its relative height (3 feet) above sea level, it suffered fairly light damage as compared to other areas of the city.
This is the interior of one of the many antique stores that we visited. There is certainly a wide selection of top drawer/high end antiques available in New Orleans! Dawn Marie was searching for a chandelier for her condo in Miami…and we looked at hundreds of them. She’s still looking…
Back in the day…before I neared retirement…Laurie and I would have picked up some little item for our modest collection! But with retirement comes financial reality… A Check of the French Quarter Directory for Antique Stores yielded no less than 48 businesses! We probably visited 20 of them… To view this retail Directory, just go to http://www.frenchquarter.com/shopping/directory.php?category=Shopping&subcategory=Antiques.
Here are a couple additional street views in the French Quarter. The streets are narrow, the traffic minimal and there are balconies with fancy wrought iron work just about everywhere you look! Horse or mule drawn carriages provide one type of tour available for visitors…
The fact that the French Quarter is as well preserved as it is belies the destruction that it has suffered over the centuries. There was the fire on Holy Saturday morning in 1788. The fire began on Good Friday morning in the home of Spanish treasurer Don Vincente Nunez. Within hours, over eight hundred homes and public buildings were reduced to ashes. In 1794 a second fire and two hurricanes swept the city. The fire of December 8 that year burned 212 buildings. When both storms and the fires were done, nearly all the public buildings, homes and businesses except those fronting the river had been consumed or badly damaged.
The result of all this destruction is fundamental to the French Quarter as we know it today. Baked tile and quarried slate replaced the roofs of ax-hewn cypress shingles. Buildings, set at the sidewalk or street, were of all brick, with common firewalls.
There were a number of street entertainers with novel ‘acts’. This particular performer ‘morphed’ from a robot into a vehicle. Kids really like this ‘transformer’ effect! There were others who worked on stilts, stood like statues in costume or even danced. Note the big tip bucket!
These 3 photos are further examples of the French Quarter’s beautiful buildings with their decorative wrought iron balconies… Many of them were complimented with beautiful hanging planters.
There are a plethora of tours available to visitors in New Orleans. We just wandered around with maps of the city’s various tourist areas looking for places and attractions that we’d noted…and otherwise just winging it! In addition to the carriage tours, there are at least 7 walking tours offered in the French Quarter plus AAA offers one in their Louisiana Guide Book. There are also jazz tours as well as spirit/haunted building tours. We’ll have to return again just so Laurie can experience a haunted tour!
For information about the many available tours, you can go to http://www.frenchquarter.com/sightseeing/French-Quarter-Tours.php#walkingtours.
As noted before, most of the buildings in the French Quarter are of brick construction. This exception stood out to us architecturally. This quaint European-style hotel is located in the heart of the French Quarter. The Nine-O-Five Hotel was built in the 1890s…so it’s a relatively ‘new’ structure in the Quarter! To check out this 10-suite hotel with its antique furnishings, go to http://www.905royalhotel.com/.
FYI…The French Quarter consists of 78 city blocks and the National Historic Landmark District includes an additional 7 blocks. A little less than 4,000 people actually live in the Quarter. Although we opted to stay just outside the French Quarter, 29 hotels are located within its boundaries. To view that list, go to http://www.frenchquarter.com/hotels/.
That’s about it for now… I'll cover Jackson Square and the riverfront in a subsequent posting.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave