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Let the good times roll!

The French Quarter

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

“Laissez le bon temps rouler” is something you might hear quite often in the Vieux Carre!  Every day and every night there is something going on in the area known as the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The French Quarter is the oldest area of the city. It is known as the Vieux Carre. It was founded by the French in 1718, ironically it reverberates the art and architecture of the Spanish era.  The French Quarter is the only intact French Colonial and Spanish settlement remaining in the United States. No matter what the French Quarter is full of life, energy, food, drinks and a spirit of fun!  Thus, the phrase, “laissez le bon temps rouler” or in English “Let the good times roll!”

After the Louisiana Purchase

In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase was signed effectively doubling the size of the United States.  With the land came over 10,000 refugees of the French and Haitian Revolutions and Napoleonic wars. The French Quarter’s golden era began as industries such as cotton, sugar, and steamboats poured into New Orleans. The mixture of American, Irish, German, African and French immigrants grew the population of the city and created the matrix of culture, language, religion, and cuisine we call Cajun and Creole!

Music of New Orleans

The 1900s and the rise of jazz found a home in New Orleans and the French Quarter.  Musical legends flourished the greats like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, and other jazz and ragtime bands made a name for themselves.  Even today major musical families like the Marsalis or the Neville Brothers can be found jamming in the French Quarter.

Famous African American Musicians from New Orleans

Louis Armstrong

Fats Domino

Aaron Neville

Ivan Neville

Jelly Roll Morton

Ellis Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

Branford Marsalis

Rap Musicians

Lil Wayne

Mystikal

Juvenile

Master P.

Romeo

 

Overview of the French Quarter

The French Quarter is a place unique unto itself.  Other cities have a street you can party on like Beal in Memphis.  Even areas like the West End in Dallas. The New Orleans French Quarter displays beautiful architecture, high-end art galleries, antique stores, local museums, restaurants, bars and a French Market.  The Vieux Carre has something for everyone – no matter what your interests or budget!

Entertainment in the French Quarter

One of the highlights of the French Quarter are the shows.  Anytime from around 10 AM to 6 PM (or dark) you can find Street Performers putting on shows.  These are professionals from Tap Dancers and Models to Tumblers and Acrobats. World Class Musicians and Dancers to Magicians, Jugglers, and Comedians.  Many make a living performing for crowds in the French Quarter. Shows are non-stop and the talent is amazing.

Eating in the French Quarter

Make sure you have a least 1 meal in the French Quarter.  It does not matter which meal it is. The French Quarter has places for breakfast, brunch, snacks or lunch.  Casual or formal dinner and/or desert are available. No matter if you are interested in steak, seafood or some of New Orleans favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, or etouffee.  Two must-dos are crawfish when they are in season. The other is coffee at Café de Monde anytime. A late at night favorite is coffee with a side of beignets.

Popular Streets in the French Quarter

Bourbon Street may be the most famous street in the world!  Known for its cabarets, bars, restaurants and oversized drinks, it also has souvenir shops, costume stores, and adult shops. Why you can even hear the music from Bourbon Street several blocks away!  Frenchman Street is another popular street in the French Quarter. Frenchman host lots of arts & crafts vendors, as well as restaurants and bars. It’s a great place to listen to jazz music! There are also flea markets sprinkled in along the way.  Royal Street is where you find most of the antique stores, upscale art galleries, museums, and hotels. It is a beautiful place to go window shopping and gain a historical perspective of the culture and evolution of New Orleans. Decatur and Canal streets block the edges of the Quarter.  Canal has shopping galore with some restaurants stuck in. Whereas Decatur has souvenir shops, restaurants, shopping and will lead you right to the French Market.

Nikki with a big drink on Bourbon Street

 

The French Market

The French Market was originally a Native American trading post on the Mississippi River. Today, the French Market is one of the most popular attractions in the French Quarter.  It is home to the Farmers Market, multiple restaurants, and shopping. The French Market is the place you can buy Mardi Gras Masks. You can also purchase clothes, jewelry, hats, bags, t-shirts and more.   If you are looking for those special spices used in Southern, Creole or Cajun cooking, this is the place to get them. This is also the place to get your fresh fruits and vegetables by the season. You can easily spend a few hours just wandering around the French Market.

If you are ever in New Orleans there is a good chance you will hear “Laissez le bon temps rouler”.  If you do hear it, then there is a good chance you are in the Vieux Carre or French Quarter.  Every day and every night there is something fun to do. Good food, great drinks, and interesting people.  The French Quarter is full of life, energy, food, drinks and a spirit of fun! Oui cher!

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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