The French Quarter

New Orleans Travel Blog

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Jackson Square on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans

The French Quarter is what everyone thinks of when they think of New Orleans, so that was where I chose to spend this afternoon. I headed directly for the quarter when i arrived in New Orleans, found a parking garage and began to wander.

I headed straight to Jackson Square, the heart of the French Quarter. Realizing that I was hungry and that it was nearly noon, I stopped in at the Cafe Pontalba. Located in one of the oldest apartment buildings in the United States, the Cafe Pontalba offers a great way to enjoy the sights of Jackson Square while eating traditional New Orleans cuisine. It is not fancy, but it is a great place to eat and people watch. I had an oyster po' boy and a bloody Mary.

St. Louis Cathedral interior
Just the thing to start the weekend.

After lunch I wandered next door to St. Louis Cathedral or, more accurately, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis King of France. This is the oldest cathedral in the United States. The original church on the site was built in 1726, but it burned to the ground in 1788 and a new church erected in 1794. That building collapsed in 1850, while it was being renovated. The current cathedral dates from 1850. I had never been inside the cathedral on previous visits to New Orleans, so today I explored the interior. It is a beautiful church, rivaling some of the churches I have visited in Europe.

I had hoped to explore the two Spanish colonial buildings flanking the Cathedral, the Cabildo and the Presbytere. I had not factored in that this weekend was the 200th anniversary of the battle of New Orleans; the Cabildo was closed to permit staff to work on the recreation of the battle in Chalmette.

The Presbytere
I settled for exploring the Presbytere, which is now part of the State Museum of Louisiana. The ground floor of the Presbytere held exhibits about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans; showing the piano of Fats Domino in the position in which it was found in his home was a telling story of the effect of the storm, but the exhibits showing the aftermath and the bungled federal relief program was disturbing -- and moving. The upper floors reflected a much lighter mood, with a number of exhibits tracing the history of Mardi Gras.

After exploring the Presbytere, I headed up Dumaine Street to the Historic Voodoo Museum. I was surprised at how small the museum is. Despite its small size, it is packed with exhibits describing the history of voodoo. It is fascinating.

I decided that a coffee break was in order after my explorations.

Fats Domino's piano in the Hurricane Katrina exhibit of the State Museum of Louisiana
I headed for the Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets. It was just as crowded as it always is, but the cold temperature and the tarps lowered around teh patio made it feel even more crowded. The beignets were excellent and the coffee was warming -- exactly what I needed.

I left the Cafe du Monde and walked along the riverbank through Waldenberg Park with its memorials to the Holocaust and to migrants who came to New Orleans. The park was virtually empty -- a reflection of the cold weather.

Deciding that I was too cold to continue my explorations, I headed to my hotel to warm up in preparation for a night on Bourbon Street.

After a nap (and getting warm) I walked over to Bourbon Street, looking for a place for dinner before hitting a few clubs. For dinner, I decided on Red Fish Grill.

Mardi Gras exhibit at State Museum
It was an excellent decision. I took my waiter's advice and ordered the barbecue oyster for dinner; they were disappointing as the flavor of the barbecue in combination with the bleu cheese topping totally over-powered the flavor of the oysters. My entree, shrimp and grits, was a much better selection -- and the beer was great! I am not surprised that Red Fish Grill has been named the best seafood restaurant in New Orleans for the past four years.

After dinner, I simply wandered along Bourbon Street, stopping at a few clubs to listen to some music and sample a few more beers. All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday in the French Quarter.

X_Drive says:
Congrats on being featured!! :D
Posted on: May 13, 2017
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Jackson Square on the 200th annive…
Jackson Square on the 200th anniv…
St. Louis Cathedral interior
St. Louis Cathedral interior
The Presbytere
The Presbytere
Fats Dominos piano in the Hurrica…
Fats Domino's piano in the Hurric…
Mardi Gras exhibit at State Museum
Mardi Gras exhibit at State Museum
Voodoo Museum exhibit
Voodoo Museum exhibit
Riverwalk Immigrant Memorial
Riverwalk Immigrant Memorial
Holocaust Museum
Holocaust Museum
The Cabildo
The Cabildo
New Orleans Hotels & Accommodations review
What a great hotel! It is a block away from the French Quarter, meaning that it is close enough to walk to the Quarter but far enough away that the no… read entire review