New Orleans, French Quarter

A ramble round the French Quarter of New Orleans, I covered 7 miles (11 kilometres). November, cool and sunny. Solo.

I was quite surprised to find myself in Louisiana. It has never been on my list of places to go, but when opportunity knocks you have to open the door. Hello Big Easy. Fortunately for me New Orleans is a city you can walk around. They say cities west of the Mississippi are built for cars, but The Quarter, also known as Vieux Carré, dates from the early 18th century and is built for horses. There are 78 square blocks to explore on foot, plenty of walking any which way you choose.

I started at my hotel on the edge of The Quarter, on North Rampart and walked straight down Dumaine, and instantly I fell in love with the colonial french buildings. Just about the first house I stopped to look at turned out to be Tennessee William’s house at 1014 Dumaine Street.

So many of the buildings have beautiful galleries with iron railings. In southern Louisiana the distinction is balconies are self supporting but galleries have pillars, so these are galleries, the first ones were built on houses on the main square and the fashion spread throughout the district.

NOLA is the birthplace of Louisiana Voodoo, a hybrid religion which takes elements of West African tradition, Haitian Voudou and Catholicism and somehow has managed to remain secretive. The Voodoo Museum is also on Dumaine Street and should not be missed, and you can have your tarot read if you ascribe any significance to such Barnum hooey.

Crossing the Quarter is Bourbon Street, famous for live music, partying and nightlife. This morning however it is peaceful, Bourbon street is sleeping it off. Lafitte’s blacksmith shop is here, one of the oldest bars in the USA, and one dripping with history and myth, not least that it was used as a base for pirates and privateering in the 1700s.

Royal Street runs parallel to Bourbon and is more upmarket, with antique shops and creative spaces. Nearby Chartres Street has another weird little museum, the Pharmacy Museum, the original home of the USA’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis Dufilho Jr.

In here you’ll find such gems as clap mixture, mercury for syphilis and rectal dilators for asthma, nervousness and rheumatism. Everything you might need for the weekend. It’s not a big museum but it’s quite the collection.

Along the street I came to the main square, Jackson Square named after President Andrew Jackson who defeated the British in the battle of New Orleans. A contentious president who removed thousands of native Americans from their land, he also opposed abolition. It’s a nice spot to eat lunch and watch the fortune tellers, and the square is surrounded by opulent blocks, housing amongst other things the state museum and St. Louis Cathedral.

Café du Monde is on the corner on the river side, it’s a Nawlins institution famous for beignets and café au lait, a sort of square doughnut and milky coffee, and you’ll hear jazz bands playing outside it most of the day. I walked over to take a look at the Mississippi, wide and industrial apart from a handful of paddleboats. This end of the Quarter has the french market and it’s all a bit tacky, but at the far north-east end is the old mint, now the New Orleans Jazz Museum, an absolute must for lovers of jazz and brass band music.

Louis Armstrong’s serviette
Lard can drum
Fats Domino’s piano

I walked back into the centre of the Quarter and spent another hour mooching around the artisan shops and admiring the architecture. There are tons of cafés, restaurants and bars so it can be hard to choose, but i’ll make a couple of recommendations. Napoleon House is on Chartres and is the place to get po’boys. Jimmy J’s is a tiny colourful café on the far end of this street. You will probably have to queue to get in but the all day breakfast is worth the wait. Crab benedict I can still taste the memory of.

After that you’ll either want to walk it off or have a lie down, the choice as ever is yours. Choose wisely. In Nawlins bring your heart and blood pressure medication because otherwise the food will seriously shorten your lifespan.

Enter your email below to subscribe

More walks in this area

Walk info

There is no set walk, and no route map. It’s not that kind of walk. It’s a mooch, a stroll and an excuse to eat and drink. It’s about discovering your own favourite places to be. As a solo traveller I walked in the day and had not a single problem, at night the Quarter is lively and less safe, particularly if you are alone or have been drinking. Use common sense.

7 responses to “New Orleans, French Quarter”

  1. I’ve never been in that state. One could be drown by floods and hurricanes…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recommend a visit but I would hate to live there. Everyone I spoke to had a family member who lost everything in a natural disaster

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that is so sad but not surprising! I lost everything in a flood in 1993 in Florida. That’s why I live in the Mojave Desert today. No floods, no hurricanes. No mosquitos either!


  2. Did you hear any Zydeco while walking about? I would have “two-stepped” my way to heaven.


    1. Sadly not. I’m a big fan of Zydeco, met my partner when they were playing in a Zydeco band in fact.


  3. Lived in Memphis TN for eight months and never got down to see NOLA. Perhaps one day. In the interim, this was a very nice tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much more USA to visit still, never been to Tennessee but my favourite is still Utah.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: