Destination Relaxation: New Orleans, Louisiana "The Big Easy"
Laissez les Bons Temps Roulez!

The French Quarter - New Orleans, Louisiana

The old world flavor and laid back attitude has the power to entice and enchant. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in The French Quarter. Located on the Mississippi River, the Quarter was established by the French in 1718 as a military outpost and port for commerce. In 1763, New Orleans was acquired by Spain. French and Spanish melded together, along with African influences from the slave population, and Creole society and cuisine were born. The entire city burned in 1788 and the Quarter was rebuilt. In time, the Creole�s expanded beyond the Quarter�s boundaries but The French Quarter still remains the heart and soul of New Orleans. There are many beautiful hotels located directly in the French Quarter. I highly recommend The Iberville Suites, starting at $124/night located at Dauphine and Iberville in the French Quarter. This hotel is absolutely beautiful, filled with marble and antiques. The rooms have a separate living area with TV, wet bar, refrigerator and coffee maker. Feather pillows grace the beds along with another TV in the bedroom. Have the valet park your car and enjoy the area on foot. Everything in the Quarter is within walking distance, even the Riverfront Park where you can catch the Natchez Steamboat for a Mississippi tour.

   Map of The French Quarter   

Exit the Iberville, walk one block towards the river, take a left and find yourself on famous Bourbon Street. You�ll lose count of the number of different bands playing as you stroll Bourbon Street. From jazz and blues, to dixieland and even 80's rock � this street gets all of the senses going as delicious smells from the restaurants whaft out into the air and flowers, lights, balconies and people make it hard to watch where you�re going as you take it all in.

One of the best highlights of New Orleans is the food, and there are an abundance of restaurants in the French Quarter to delight the taste buds. We stepped in to Mike Anderson�s Seafood Restaurant on our first night and what a fantastic choice it was. What trip to New Orleans would be complete without sampling crawfish tails, alligator, cajun and creole cuisine? With so many delicious items on the menu it�s hard to make a choice, so we both opted for the seafood sampler platter.

Fine Dining in The French Quarter

This broiled seafood platter has it all! Crawfish scampi, seafood stuffed bell pepper, oyster Bienville, stuffed mushroom, crabmeat stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, shrimp supreme, Mike�s special and a fish fillet. Everything is absolutely delicious, and I challenge you to eat the whole thing! After such a wonderful meal, it feels great just to stroll along Bourbon Street, hand in hand. As with any tourist destination, there are plenty of souveigner shops to browse. But the real treat on Bourbon Street is the music. Relax and check out all the bands you want. When you find that one you really like, stop and stay awhile. But don�t forget to have a Hurricane for a night cap!

If you�re going to try this famous drink, why not do it at Pat O�Brien�s � the home of the Hurricane. Located at Bourbon and St. Peters, this world famous bar has something for everyone. The old carriageway entrance, located on St. Peters Street, will delight you with its old slate flooring and crossed muskets representing every country that once raised its flag over the City of New Orleans. From there, you can enjoy the main bar (the locals� favorite), piano bar or the courtyard. You must stop by at night to enjoy the patio and the legendary �Flaming Fountain.�

Pat O'Brien's Hurricane

Just one block down from Bourbon Street lies Royal Street. Here you will find an abundance of antique and souveigner shops to tempt you. This street is a wonderful example of history and architecture. From The Merieult House (533 Royal), the oldest house on Royal Street built in 1792, LaBranche House�s ironwork balconies, The Court of Two Lions (1798), the Coudreau Mansion, and the wrought iron of the Bank of the United States from the early 1800's, to name a few.

St. Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

Famous today for Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, The Quarter is rich in history and architecture. Jackson Square, located across from the river on Decatur Street is surrounded by the St. Louis Cathedral, (the oldest cathedral in the United States) the 200 year old Presbytere and Cabildo which house collections from the Louisiana State Museum. Now a popular meeting place full of street performers, Jackson Square was once used as a military parade ground and a stage for public executions. Just down from the square is the historic French Market. Established in 1791, it is the oldest farmer�s market in the United States.

While on the riverfront, catch a ride on the Natchez Steamboat for a beautiful view of the Quarter and New Orleans from the Mississippi River. Listen to the sounds of the Dukes of Dixieland while enjoying lunch or dinner on this 2 hour cruise. Or, hop the John James Audubon for a 7 mile cruise linking from the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas.

As night descends on the French Quarter, let your imagination run wild as you walk the narrow, cobblestone streets. Voodoo, mysticism, ghosts, spirits and vampires... Experience for yourself the eerie legends of New Orleans with a guided tour. The New Orleans Ghost Tour leaves every evening at 8pm from the steps in front of Cafe du Monde, just across from Jackson Square. Don't forget to visit the tomb of Marie Laveau, the city's most famous voodoo priestess located in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Or, catch the St. Charles Streetcar Line and take a guided tour of the Garden District with it's beautiful old mansions and Lafayette Cemetery #1. The cemeteries of New Orleans are truly unique to the region. New Orleans lies below sea level. Due to this fact, the people had to come up with a different way to inter their loved ones or their caskets would float to the surface after burial. As a result, loved ones are put in above ground family tombs. After a certain time period, the bones are removed from the casket and old bones in the tomb are pushed out of the way to make room for the new. Some of these tombs are truly spectacular and have given rise to a new meaning of the term "grave robber." The cemeteries now have a problem with artifacts being stolen and sold in antique shops.

Set aside a day or two to tour the plantations in the area and the swamps. Combination tours are available through Gray Line Tours. If you only have time to visit one plantation, Oak Alley Plantation is the must see. Built in 1839, by a wealthy French Creole sugar planter from New Orleans as a summer home, this Greek-Revival style home is beautifully set off by the 1/4 mile canopy of giant oak trees that are almost 300 years old.
Oak Alley Plantation - New Louisiana

Travel Suggestions

Call ahead to find out what events are happening in the French Quarter before you make your travel plans.

You may want to experience the frenzy and crowds of Mardi Gras. But if you're looking for a few less people, you might want to enjoy the Quarter at a quieter time.

These are only a few of the highlights of The French Quarter, New Orleans and the surrounding area. Whether you're looking for romantic evenings or swamps draped in Spanish moss, The Big Easy has it all!

"Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!"