The French Quarter

New Orleans, LA

The second day of our brief visit to New Orleans dawned sunny and much warmer than the previous day.

Bayou Signette site 53

It was a perfect day for a walking tour of the French Quarter.  So we went to the web site of Free Tours on Foot and booked a 10 AM tour.   This is our first time using this company, and we found it to be an excellent experience.  The company operates on a pay-what-you-want model.  There is no fixed cost for the tour so at the end you pay the guide what you feel the tour was worth.   This guarantees that the guide works to give you a great experience.  Our guide, Sean, met us promptly at 10 o’clock, organized the small group, and began the tour.

Classic photo: Andrew Jackson statue in front of St. Louis Cathedral

Sean begins our tour

Our group along Pirate’s Alley

Classic French Quarter scene

Sean has lived in or near New Orleans all his life and has a good grasp of the history of the city.  He did a great job and we are sure he was well rewarded for his efforts (at least from us).  He left us at the French Market, where we purchased a couple of pralines for a later dessert.

Delicious pralines

During the tour, our guide, Sean, pointed out a nice little restaurant on St. Peter’s St. that served some of the best gumbo in the French Quarter.  So after the tour we made our way back to the appropriately named Gumbo Shop to test his recommendation.

Gumbo Shop Restaurant

John had a bowl of the Chicken Andouille Gumbo while Pam had a gumbo sampler.  Sean was correct, the gumbo here is delicious!

The gumbo sampler

As we headed down Royal St. we found they had blocked the street from traffic to allow for some music.  Since it was a bit early for most of the party-loving population of the area, there was only one band playing.

New Orleans is very famous for its beignets, deep-fried pastries covered with powdered sugar.  Again we followed Sean’s recommendation and made our way down Bourbon Street to the Cafe Beignet.

Delicious! Sean was right again

After our beignets we needed to walk off a few calories so we made our way over to Canal Street, a wide boulevard that separates the French Quarter from downtown New Orleans.

We then walked through the Quarter for a visit to Armstrong Park, a public park that honors the jazz great Louis Armstrong.

Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong

Jazz sculpture in Armstrong Park

Inside the park is an area known as Congo Square.  In Louisiana’s French and Spanish colonial era of the 18th century, enslaved Africans were commonly allowed Sundays off from their work (the Christian thing to do).  Many would gather in the Congo Square area (a clearing outside the town at that time) to socialize.  The music played there became the foundation in the development of Jazz.

Congo Square sculpture

We returned to the Jeep and drove a few miles to the east of the French Quarter for a brief visit to the Ninth Ward, a poor residential area destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  Today the scars from the flooding are still evident in the many abandoned lots.

Only steps remain from one house with a rebuilt house in the background

We then drove west of the French Quarter to visit the Garden District, stopping for a few minutes to visit one of the cemeteries with their above ground vaults unique to the low land of New Orleans.

We enjoyed driving around the Garden District looking at the many beautiful homes.

Although the visit was brief, we managed to slip in just about everything we wanted to see (or eat) in New Orleans.  Now it’s time to continue our journey to the west.  Next up is a quick stop to see friends in Houston.

More on that later . . .

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43 Responses to The French Quarter

  1. Debbie L says:

    I’ve enjoyed a few visits to NO. Such great sounds there! Loved the beignets. Never had an official tour. That would have been nice. Did you learn if they’ve done anything to protect the city from the flooding disaster? So sad…

    • placestheygo says:

      No, Debbie, we didn’t learn anything new about flood protection. The only time flooding was mentioned was when our guide did say that the French Quarter never flooded.

      • Debbie L says:

        Interesting. From what I remembered as we watched it unfold on live TV was that it would be nearly impossible to reinforce whatever needs to be done to prevent it happening again! So glad the French Quarter was spared!

  2. geogypsy2u says:

    NOLA hasn’t been on my list until Jodee & Bill, and you two shared it. I do love the architecture, the music, and now want to try the food. Will just have to wait until I retire.

  3. Laurel says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your tour! We did two tours with Free Tours By Foot last April (the Garden District and French Quarter), and appreciated the depth of knowledge and enthusiasm of our guides. I like having someone tell me stories instead of having to stumble along, reading descriptions in self-guided tour pamphlets. :-)) Your gumbo sampler looks delicious!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks for turning us on to this tour group, Laurel! We will definitely search them out in other cities. I’m with you and would rather have someone tell me, which is usually John:) That’s why I enjoyed the WWII museum because all the short videos told me the story.

  4. For the short time you were there you hit a lot of the highlights. Don’t know about you, but we always got as much powdered sugar on our clothes as in our mouths while eating those beignets!

  5. Sandra Silva says:

    As always we continue to enjoy your blog. We have visited New Orleans several times and always find it magical. The account of your visit reminds us of just how wonderful a place it is.

    So you are headed west again. Maybe this year we will be able to meet up with you. It has been so very long.

    We are in Palm Springs for 10 weeks. I will send you a copy of out travel schedule for the year in a few days. I have to get on the computer to do it and I rarely use the computer anymore. These smart phones do almost everything I need on the internet.

    We are both well. In fact better health wise than we have been in years. My new knees are working well and walking is no problem now. We both are going to the gym several times a week and doing extended time on the treadmill as well as weight training. Hope we keep it up.

    It was sooooo wonderful to hear and see about your daughters wedding. Such a happy beginning.

    Happy travels till we see you.

    Sandy and Bob Silva

    Sent from my iPhone

  6. A French Quarter tour, gumbo and beignets. Sounds like a perfect day!

  7. exploRVistas says:

    Nothing like a good tour guide to bring a place to life!

  8. Ingrid says:

    I love city hiking. It gets me up close and allows me to get a feel for a place. Logan and I hit many of those same sites having walked from the French Quarter to the Lafayette Cemetery. Loved the architecture in the Garden District. All the food we tried at the French Quarter was delicious but perhaps our taste buds were tainted from the excess of alcohol consumed. We decided the French Quarter is a lot more fun with a buzz on 😆 Like everyone else!

  9. pmbweaver says:

    I see three bowls there. Who ate the third one? John is a much daintier eater than Paul. I didn’t see powdered sugar all over his shirt.

    We missed that park. I love the sculptures. The park I want you to visit the next time you are in NO (whenever that might be) is New Orleans City Park.

    The Ninth ward still looks so sad.

  10. Jacquie says:

    You certainly hit all the highlights! We love NO – in fact, we’re going to be there for Mardi Gras – parked in the RV park right in the French Quarter! Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding. The pictures were beautiful. Keep enjoying and sharing your travels!

  11. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    What, no Hurricanes from Pat O’brains? 🙂
    BCB Mark

  12. Looks like the perfect highlights stop in New Orleans! Traveling in the South has got to be hard on the waistline, so many interesting foods to try!

  13. Gay says:

    Great photos! I would love a stop there, but I can’t get Joe to agree. The closest I got was Baton Rouge to visit the plantations. I haven’t given up yet though!

    • placestheygo says:

      Staying at Bayou Signette SP was so nice and away from the city. We didn’t take the ferry in to NOLA like others after Jodee said they drove all around. We drove in and parked which was a little more expensive than the ferry but not much.
      We wouldn’t return. Big cities aren’t our thing. Maybe Joe will agree one day for a quick look:)

  14. Bob Hazlett says:

    I’ve been to New Orleans several times. I keep telling myself “There is more to see than just the French Quarter” but I never seem to make it out to the rest of the city. Maybe this year.

  15. Maxxtrails says:

    It sounds like you had a good walking tour, we will definitely do that the next time we are in New Orleans, thanks for the info 🙂

  16. We too enjoyed our short one day visit in NOLA but we missed the cemetery. I take it you did not have time to walk by the river. Anyhow you had the tour and a taste of their popular cuisine that widens the waistline 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      We actually did visit the River Walk and while sitting there we watch a huge container ship go by. That was our first time seeing one. It was from Singapore. Boy was it large!!

  17. Sherry says:

    Looks like a nice site. Thanks for the look at the campground. Sean sure looks the part of a guide in the French Quarter. Oh my those pralines make my mouth water. Gumbo sampler looks wonderful as well. Were they spicy? Love your restaurant recommendations. Writing them down. We found those above ground vaults in Key West as well and for the same reasons.

    • placestheygo says:

      The campground is very nice, Sherry. Sites are long and some have attached wooden patios, other’s have concrete patios apart from the pad. Each has a picnic table. The seafood and chicken gumbo were not spicy but the turkey sausage one was and just the right amount of spicy.

  18. Jeff says:

    Great post on the a most interesting city. We paid the big bucks to stay French Quarter RV Resort. Great memories you bring back and a few regrets of things we did not do. You certainly filled your time there.

    Out of Houston I’ll offer Langtry the home of Judge Roy Bean. Not a must-do anything, but his brother Joshua Bean was San Diego’s first mayor, so we had to stop.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jeff. Someone else mentioned Langtry and the home of Judge Roy Bean. But we were making time across Texas so we didn’t sightsee at all so we could beat the seven days of rain expected.

  19. You had me at the pralines and the gumbo. But no… you had to pull out the old beignets trick!!! YUM.

    We had a wonderful visit to New Orleans when our youngest was considering going to University there. Unfortunately he chose a different school, but at any rate we loved the city and the food and the people. A very special place. Thanks for the memories.


  20. montanaclarks says:

    We were fortunate to have Gina and Rollie for tour guides–I am going back to New Orleans in March for a sales meeting–I’m going to remember your “foodie” recommendations!

  21. whatastreel says:

    The park looks nice glad to see the city looking so good after all.

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