Ah, le Vieux Carré – the old French Quarter of New Orleans. It is the geographic heart of the city, a neighborhood where people live, work, and play; many New Orleans bed and breakfasts are located in the French Quarter. The area between the Mississippi River and North Rampart Street, Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue, is a feast for the senses: ears, eyes, nose and taste buds. You’ll find beautiful historic architecture here, and numerous restaurants, clubs and shops.
After a delicious breakfast at your bed and breakfast New Orleans, stroll to Jackson Square and see if any artists have set up their easels. Admire St. Louis Cathedral – the oldest cathedral in continual use in the United States – with it’s triple steeples soaring high above the neighborhood. Nearby, the Old Ursuline Convent is open to visitation. It is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.
Before heading off to explore the rest of the French Quarter, grab coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. They’ll keep you nourished until you find the perfect spot for lunch, which can be a huge po-boy at the Quartermaster Deli, or a Verti Marte’s Philly Cheese Steak – a great adaptation of the classic. If you like the muffuletta sandwich, be sure to stop by Central Grocery, where it was first created. Or sit down with the locals at Coop’s Place, where you can savor smoked duck quesadilla or rabbit and sausage jambalaya.
An afternoon would be well spent enjoying a tour of the French Quarter; knowing something about the neighborhood’s rich history can really help travelers appreciate it. There are horse-drawn carriage tours, walking tours, tours that focus on architecture and tours that focus on cocktails and pubs. Riverboat Tours are a great way to take in the sites of the city while listening to Dixieland jazz, and cemetery tours help travelers understand the city’s interesting relationship with the dead.
You may want to dress for dinner in the French Quarter, but you’ll want to hide some dancing shoes in your purse. It is nearly impossible to listen to the music of New Orleans without moving your feet. You can find Zydeco on Thursday nights at the Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl, or hear the joyous trumpeting of Kermit Ruffins at Vaugn’s Lounge. The innkeepers of your bed and breakfast New Orleans may know whether or not Ellis Marsalis is in town and playing at Snug Harbor. Check out the bar at One Eyed Jacks, or see if folks are dancing in the street outside Cafe Brasil – just get out and have fun.
After a late night of music and reverie, feed the soul with one of the many street vendors. Then find the comfortable bed in your New Orleans bed and breakfast, and rest up for tomorrow.