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.)  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 and  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!

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