The French Quarter is the part of Mardi Gras celebrations that is shown as wild and frisky. But when it’s not Mardi Gras season, it’s a wonderful opportunity to really get to know the area. We walked along the Mississippi river, which I had never seen before and was shockingly not as wide as I thought it would be! I don’t know what I was expecting but my adventures reading Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn always made it seem more mythical and larger in my mind. From there, we headed directly to the French Market, enjoying the busy of the people and the delicious smell of Southern cuisine!
We grabbed dinner from Coop’s, with the fried chicken being highly recommended from our Lyft driver–and boy, were they right! Although New Orleans is known for its nightlife, I’m not a big drinker so Bourbon Street doesn’t hold much for me. At the end of the day, I was so tired that I decided to rest and head to bed early.
I haven’t had as much of a chance to really explore the French Quarter where our hotel was located. So I took the next day to really walk around and enjoy the area.
For breakfast, we went for our last beignets at Cafe Beignet just down the street from our hotel and then headed to Jackson Square. We stepped inside of the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Cathedral in the US. It provided a nice respite and I really enjoyed taking some time to relax and calm.
Right next to the cathedral, in Pirate’s Alley, is the Faulker House. Now a bookstore, the building once housed the apartment William Faulker lived in 1924. As a huge Southern Gothic fan, I was thrilled to get to step inside. The first floor is tiny, but crammed with books!
On the other side of Pirates Alley from the cathedral is the Louisiana State Museum. We headed in and got to see some really fascinating exhibits on Mardi Gras traditions and Hurricane Katrina. By and large, Hurricane Katrina exists in the back of my memory as a reminder of the horrifying scene on television with the roofs of buildings being ripped off. But the museum really gave some context behind the disaster and the part that was most interesting to me were the displays that showed the steps being made to fix and improve the engineering of the city to combat another hurricane like Katrina. The galleries on Mardi Gras had these beautiful costumes, tiaras, and artwork that seemed so regal and beautiful.
We grabbed lunch a few blocks away at Cafe Amelie which had some of the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had!
For dinner we decided to splurge a bit and headed to Pere Antoine. The atmosphere was a bit crowded and loud, but with the windows all open it provided a nice cool breeze against the Louisiana heat. Food was absolutely delicious and I ordered the pasta with sausage and chicken in jambalaya tomato cream sauce! (I was so full that I couldn’t finish it, but it was so good!)
But before dinner, we spent the rest of the day walking around and enjoying the small shops in the French Quarter. I loved how there were so many quirky different things in the area from Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo to the Boutique du Vampyre! The art galleries in the area were also amazing, with such diverse collections of art from a giant head model of Andy Warhol to photography of post-Hurricane Katrina. And the boutiques were to die for! From couture hats that seem fit for the derby or Easter Sunday to gorgeous simple dress and stores, it was such a wonderful place to kill time just walking around. I could have spent so many more days, walking from tea shoppes with pralines to fleur de lis jewelry.
(In my next post, I will be highlighting my favorites and must-visits, so stay tuned for that along with an update about my gap year!)