Jan 13, 2013 - Countries, Louisiana, Travel, USA    20 Comments

Exploring New Orlean’s French Quarter

I left home around 9 this morning to go explore New Orleans’ French Quarter. I decided to take the Algiers Ferry to get there. It’s a good thing that the RV park gave okay directions to get there because there is no signage whatsoever and you would think you were driving through slums a tourist has no business being in (sorry Algiers Point).

The ferry is free for pedestrians, but, SURPRISE!, you have to pay $10 to park for the day.

I made the 9:30 ferry and was across the river in less than 15 minutes.

Arrival on Canal Street is a little brutal as the ferry building is DISGUSTING. OMG. The place reeks of urine and the puddles are obviously not water. And you have to go through quite a bit of it to get to the street. I wasn’t the only tourist trying to find the exit as fast as possible.

On the street, you find yourself in the heart of touristy NOLA, with the Imax and Aquarium on your right, the Harrah’s casino directly ahead, the French Quarter a few blocks ahead to the right, and the Riverwalk behind you to the left. Canal Street is lined with palm trees. The day I become blasé about palm trees is the day I hang up my traveling shoes!

I walked quickly down Canal to Decatur, ignoring the panhandlers, and then headed into the French Quarter.

I didn’t want to do any museums today, but rather just walk the streets and soak in the ambiance. So I began to stroll fairly aimlessly, occasionally referring to my map to make sure I stayed within the confines of the tourist section. Its limits are actually quite obvious.

My favourite part of the area is the architecture. The 18th-century buildings have survived to this day because they are built of cypress, a rot-resistant wood that termites don’t like.

The French Market held my attention for a bit and I spent some time eying the wares, everything from jewelry to really tacky coasters. There were also some food vendors. But the market was just opening up, so I decided to return after lunch and continued my wanderings.

I found a gelataria on a side street where I was able to get some chocolate gelato, a delicious treat that was perfect for the muggy temperatures.

The weather wound up being quite good even though the sky threatened to rip open as it was very dark and grey. I felt extremely under dressed, which was hilarious since the feeling was purely psychological. I’m just so used to wind + grey sky + spitting rain = being frozen solid. In fact, my capris and tee-shirt were perfect and a nice breeze made the humidity tolerable.

Lunch was had at Café Maspero’s, recommended by Eugene yesterday. I figured that I had to eat a mountain of fried seafood once this winter and this was going to be it! $21 including the tip and tax got me a humongous strawberry daiquiri (I doubt there was alcohol in it) for $3 and a ginormous ‘seafood platter’ for about $14. It had catfish, oysters, shrimp, and calamari. I had never eaten oysters before (!) and I think I might like them. 🙂 For fried seafood, this was very good and I do not regret my lunch location choice!

I walked around some more after lunch, then headed out of the French Quarter to check out the Riverwalk shopping centre. I was sad to learn that all the local vendors, many of whom had shops with interesting products, not just touristy crap, are being forced out to make way for the Riverwalk to become an outlet mall.

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  • I enjoyed the pictures and narratives. Don’t you wonder why all cities get rid of really interesting and unique places just to replace them with the ubiquitous mall.

  • With the Riverwalk, it’s apparently a push to get more locals to shop there, plus to get even more cruiseship traffic.

  • At least you tried the beignets. We shared a bag and had the coffee as well.

  • I knew you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t. 😉 I can’t do café au lait and the alternative was black. I did find the powdered sugar to be the best part of the experience. It got ALL OVER. 🙂

  • Oh Rae!
    What a nice tour & as always you did a great job of sharing with your pictures.
    What a great lunch… a full plate, wow.
    The beignets looked awesome too (I’m soo hungry right now!).

    And a guess on that building… um, it has several flags in front. I only recognized the USA flag. Is it a consulate or a water authority of some sort? Just a stab in the dark, really I have no clue 😐

    Thanks 🙂

  • Vicki, you’re warmish in that it is a governmentish building but think smaller scale.

  • Good hint… but ?? I’m still clueless, maybe somebody else can do better.
    (Dang it! I didn’t know there was gonna be a pop-quiz today!) 😉

  • Hmm… it’s such a grand looking building for folks doing such a grotty job…

  • Double Dang it!

    Sanitation department?

  • Grotty was too strong a word, so my bad on that (good guess for a bad clue!).

    Hmm… those flags are the colour of their uniforms and their cars are parked out front.

  • Um, that wasn’t a tugboat, it was a towboat. Tugboats pull, towboats push. Well, there’s a lot of other differences, but you can usually go with that.

  • To which anyone who has ever been pushed by a tow truck can attest! 😉

  • From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    Tugboat : a strongly built powerful boat used for towing and pushing —called also towboat. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tugboat

  • Most of the boudin in South Louisiana isn’t blood sausage. It is more of a rice dressing in a casing. You can also get seafood and alligator boudin.

  • I’m guessing your mystery building is the post office. Nice tour–I feel like I’ve been to NOLA now. Still don’t have a huge desire to go personally 🙂 But now I know what I’m missing (since I don’t eat seafood, don’t like jazz, and don’t speak a word of French….)

  • Debbie, good guess, but nope. These civil servants are known for their cars, not their trucks.

  • Martha, thanks for that! I did more research and it turns out that boudin refers to several types of sausage, including blood, which is what we have back in Quebec, and a ‘white’ type that is common down here.

  • Loved your tour!!!

  • OK, gotta be the police department, then! (I haven’t seen an answer anywhere, so if I’m right, I didn’t cheat!)

  • Debbie, you got it! 😀 What a fancy-looking station house; huh?

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