French Quarter Fun Part 2

Wednesday morning I set off, Fodor’s New Orleans guide in hand, to discover New Orleans! (Or at least the French Quarter portion!)

The first destination on my little adventure was Jackson Square. This happening little joint has a rich history. At one point this square was a military parade ground and a public execution site. Nowadays it boasts tarot readers, local artists, and some swingin’ jazz bands (and, of course, a few talented beggars.)

Also on in the square is this larger-than-life statue of Andrew Jackson (war of 1812 anyone?) That’s St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

And these sweet wrought iron entrance lamps. (I’ll expound upon the wrought iron magnificence found throughout the city in another post!)

At the top (?) of Jackson Square sits St. Louis Cathedral, The Presbytere, and The Presbytere’s twin building. These three architectural beauts are really something to see.

St. Louis’s is the oldest active cathedral in the United States! (It’s been modified and updated since it’s origin, though.) I didn’t get to go into the garden, but it is supposed to be really beautiful and is on my to-do list for next time I’m here (oh yes, there will be a next time; there are so many things I didn’t get to!)

The Presbytere and its twin are Spanish-colonial style buildings that sit on either side of St. Louis’s. I loved the color of the buildings as well as their windows and ‘steeple’ (there is probably a proper architectural term for this; if anyone knows it, please enlighten!

Here are some more detail pictures:

The ‘bottom’ of Jackson Square is flanked by the Pontalba Buildings, two buildings constructed in the 1840’s by Baroness Pontalba. The coolest thing about these buildings is the wrought iron: Baroness Pontalba designed the iron to reflect the initials of her maiden name (‘A’) and her married name (‘P’):

Also at the ‘bottom’ of Jackson Square is Washington Artillery Park. This little park overlooks the Mississippi. When I got to the top I was serenaded by a steam boat playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’! Too perfect!

The park actually honors the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard

After scouting the Square and its surroundings, I headed down Dutch Alley, an adorable little artist’s alley that I stumbled upon

where I fell in love/was completely inspired by these doors:

and these balconies:

I have been contemplating the idea of adding this color to our bedroom for a few weeks now and these doors totally convinced me! (More on this later as I figure out how to do it!)

Also in the alley, I happened upon this sign, of which I took several photos in honor of my fam! (My maiden name is Peters)

On my way out of the alley I wandered up Gov. Nicholls Street to find the Beauregard-Keyes House. For all of you Civil War buffs, this building was the home of General P.G.T Beauregard for a short time. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, the author, also lived there for some time and helped restore the building.) Again, I didn’t get to check out the gardens, and again I will have to return! But here is the front:

And a detail photo of the wrought iron railing:

Another really interesting building is the ‘Madame John’s Legacy’ building. It’s architectural style is West Indies and it is the only example of such a style in the French Quarter. Look how different it is from everything else! So neat.

And that, dear friends, concluded my jaunt around the French Quarter!

It was interesting to sight see by myself! I was a little nervous to pull out my map and guidebook for looking unaware of my surroundings and likewise didn’t take too much time to focus the camera well in all of these photos; I apologize for the poor photo quality and promise better in the future! πŸ™‚

Next, I’ll share my mosey through the Garden District complete with a Street Car ride straight from the turn of the century!

French Quarter: Joie de Vivre

I (Sarah) set out yesterday morning (Wednesday 9/14/2011) to explore the French Quarter in the light.

I’ll start off by saying that the French Quarter has a fantastic ‘feel’ to it! There’s a tangible energy in this area that’s a blend of old-world charm, Southern hospitality, laissez-faire attitude, creativity, and just a touch of rough Bacchanalia.

The design of the area is spectacular. All sorts of architectural styles and details tumble along beside each other running up and down all the streets and blocks to create this web of so many influences. Some of the architecture is very similar to what we saw in Paris and even Provence. Other buildings showcase Italian influences and there is even an example of West Indies architecture! (More on that in a later post.)Β  It’s almost like the streets of the French Quarter make up some sort of design gumbo that gives New Orleans it’s own personality! (Did you catch the wordsmithing in that analogy? I made reference to Louisiana’s tasty culinary staple. Corny?)

The landscape design and city planning is also really inspiring.The details of the landscaping are tight and trimmed much like French and Italian gardens are, but the plant choices are so different! It is so neat to see such a distinct style achieved by a completely different palette of plants!

The sun, humid heat, and vegetation gives NOLA (upon arriving I learned that many of the locals- or at least the marketing geniuses in the area-refer to New Orleans as NOLA) a bit of a Florida/Savannah flair, but the smell of the air is definitely different. No salty sea smell, but something deep south and waterfront.

Another distinctly N’Awlins (I’m just going to play around with all the names I’ve heard this place called!) characteristic is the music that sort of floats around the air near Jackson Square! It’s a lively, bouncy, jazzy sort of collection that totally lifts your spirits and makes you want to smile at everyone. As I was walking down the street soaking in everything I possibly could, I couldn’t help thinking that I felt like I was walking around in a movie scene! The songs (that came from everywhere and nowhere in particular) were like a soundtrack for my sightseeing and for the activities of everyone around me! And it was the middle of the morning on a Wednesday- so spunky!

Speaking of everyone around me, the locals (and even the tourists) are willing to talk to anyone (perhaps the peppy music promotes easy conversations!?) There were several groups of people sitting around the Square talking and playing music and most people seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

*Note to the ladies: there are plenty of ‘gents that readily (and loudly) offer their opinions of your physique, but if you don’t oblige them andΒ  look like you know what you’re doing, they won’t pursue!

The colors of the French Quarter vary significantly from pale neutrals to rich, dark city-like colors, to saturated Spanish hues, and even bright teal (more on that particular color later- I was totally inspired by the doors below!) Somehow, it all worked together to make this beautiful old-feel cityscape!

The food was incredible! We’ll share a post devoted entirely to food because, in case you don’t know us, food is our passion and we think it is ever so important to pay tribute to a place’s cuisine.

It seems that the city loves to enjoy good music, good food, and a good time. The city seems proud of the history, heritage, and culture that can be found along its streets. It feels like New Orleanians have a passion for life, however tough it might be. And that’s our impression (that we only had a few short hours to form) of the Joie de Vivre in New Orleans’ French Quarter!

Does anyone else have an impression of New Orleans’ personality? How does it differ from ours? What did we leave out? We’d love to hear your opinions!

French Quarter Fun Part 1

We arrived safely in New Orleans yesterday evening and set out to first, of course, explore the cuisine!

On recommendation (from Ben who was actually here 2 weeks ago) we ate dinner at the Palace Cafe in the French Quarter.

The front sitting area was adorable and was so very much like all the French cafes we visited in June! The bistro tables and wicker chairs gave this open-air sidewalk dining area an authentic franco feel. It made my heart smile to remember the wonderful times we had in France!

We did not, however, sit in the cute sidewalk cafe area, but instead ate inside the palace (it’s not really a ‘palace’ but was apparently originally a multi-story music store.) I unfortunately neglected to photograph the beautiful interior (shame on me!) but imagine a 2-story room with gold ceilings, delicate wrought iron work, and scalloped balconies surrounding the atrium-like opening in the center of the dining room. Comfortably luxe!

As wonderful as the surroundings were, the food was definitely something to write home about! Among the four of us we tasted the gumbo, corn and shrimp chowder, excellent seafood entrees and of course, dessert. Bananas Foster, which they made on a wheeling cart right in front of us:

These are the ingredients waiting patiently for the show. (I got a kick out of the ice cream mountain…)

After dinner we ventured to Bourbon Street to check out the infamous debauchery.

(*Please excuse the poor quality of these next photos; my super-paranoid self was too busy being aware of my surroundings to manually focus the camera…)

Walking the bar-lined street was such an experience! My PG self didn’t even photography the scandalousness we encountered, but I did capture some of the most entertaining signs:

Anatomically correct neon:

Speaks for itself:

Best tagline:

Lastly, a shout out to my Gator parents:

Our jaunt down Bourbon Street was a good preview of the tawdry activities of Mardi Gras; we all noted that if this is what the street is like on a weeknight in the middle of September, we can’t imagine being here for Mardi Gras!

More French Quarter fun to come!