From the pretty French Quarter to the hip Marigny district, each of New Orleans’ neighbourhoods jive to their own funky beat – learn all about them with our in-the-know guide.
The charming, walkable Quarter is full of step-back in-time architecture and venerable dining institutions that speak to its status as New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood, but it’s also home to exciting, new foodie spots…
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For more than a hundred years, Galatoire’s has been serving trout meuniere (trout with a flour-based sauce), soufflé potatoes and champagne to the New Orleans elite in its mirrored, tiled dining room. The French 75 bar at Arnaud’s, has an eccentric museum of vintage Mardi Gras costumes hidden upstairs.
Built in 1886, the Hotel Monteleone breathes old New Orleans character, from its elegant Beaux Arts architecture to its many reported ghost sightings.
Preservation Hall faithfully presents traditional jazz each night, just like when it was launched in 1961, with musicians who were there when the genre was born in the early twentieth century. Expect intimate, late-night concerts with contemporary artists like Elvis Costello and Angelique Kidjo.
Just downriver of the French Quarter, the bohemian Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have become a centre for hip, laid-back art, music and cuisine.
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Grab a bottle at tiny, jewel-like wine shop Bacchanal, then drink it in the expansive, magically lit garden where live bands provide the soundtrack. In New Orleans, there are gigs 365 nights of the year meaning your toes will always be kept tapping. A block from the Press Street train tracks in Bywater, the aptly named Junction features Louisana’s finest craft brews and gourmet burgers.
The cute Balcony Guest House oozes Creole charm with its pretty characterful rooms. Its eponymous balcony provides a wonderful vantage point to admire the area’s rainbow-coloured tiny ‘shotgun’ houses, and see Marigny’s creative types ambling through the streets.
At Euclid Records and the Louisiana Music Factory, stock up on sounds to remember your visit to the cradle of American music. Crescent Park runs for two miles on the edge of Marigny and Bywater, and has breathtaking river vistas, as well as running and biking paths.
A few blocks uptown of the French Quarter, this neighbourhood is packed with galleries, plus stylish hotels and restaurants.
The latest from celeb chef John Besh’s team is Willa Jean, an expansive, corner space specializing in delectable bakery items, and brunch accompanied by lemony frozen rosé. Grab a seat on the raw bar at the award-winning Peche, for the best seafood in the Gulf. In 2016, New Orleans had the most James Beard award nominees per capita over any American city, so come hungry.
The old Roosevelt Hotel epitomises grandeur, with a Guerlain spa and its historic Blue Room, where Louis Armstrong once performed.
Stop by the Ogden Museum and browse its collection of contemporary and classic Southern art. On Thursday nights, local musicians play in its soaring atrium. The National World War Two Museum houses an extraordinary multimedia collection dedicated to telling the story of the conflict that shaped the twentieth century.
UPTOWN AND THE GARDEN DISTRICT
Live oaks and magnolias provide lush natural canopies over some of the city’s most impressive architecture
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The relatively new Freret Street cultural district is home to a handful of laid-back, innovative bars and restaurants, from the home-style Southern cooking at High Hat Café to next-level cocktails at Cure. Hidden away on a residential street, Clancy’s where generations have enjoyed fried oysters with Brie and lemon icebox pie.
The Avenue Plaza Resort, is home to locals’ favourite Mr. John’s Steakhouse which serves up prime beef just steps away from oak-lined St. Charles Avenue, where streetcars rumble by.
Tipitina’s, founded in the 1970s to give rhythm-and-blues piano man Professor Longhair a place to play, brings in both major touring bands and local luminaries. Magazine Street offers brilliant shopping for miles, including handcrafted jewellery inspired by the history of South Louisiana at Mignon Faget’s
The police told me there was nothing down there. I know they’re lying.
(This story is very very long, be warned.)
I never wanted to be a mother. A child happened to me, I didn’t ask for it.
After you’ve had a child, you never get peace and quiet. I don’t mean that in a resentful way, just a fact. There’s the crying phase, the screaming phase, the yelling phase, the “NO!” phase, et cetera. And you never get time. You don’t have time for hobbies and distractions. Raising a child is two full-time jobs.
It’s not that I didn’t try to do everything I could for him. It’s not that I didn’t try and be a good parent. I did, I gave it everything I had. But deep down, I think he could tell that I didn’t want him. Kids know.
I had a part time job. I didn’t get paid very well, but it was enough. It was just office work, nothing exciting. My sister would look after him when I wasn’t around. I didn’t really have the money for daycare.
I knew that things weren’t working out like they should have. And I did what any self-respecting human being would do - I bought a book. I’d always heard that you should read to your child every night, and that doing so would make them smart and well-adjusted. Well, I had nothing to lose.
I’m not really an Amazon person, so I paid a visit to my local bookstore - a dark, slightly grubby independent place that shuns all but the most obsessive of bookworms. Standing in the narrow, dimly-lit aisles, surrounded by towering bookshelves jammed with volumes at every angle, I wondered, briefly - what do people normally buy for their kids?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
He was a bit old for that. Besides, I think that’s one of those books that parents buy because they think it’s kitschy, not because their kids will actually enjoy it.
Amongst the slightly destroyed second-hand Roald Dahl books and Dr. Seuss anthologies, I found a book that stuck out. It was old, and bound in what looked like real leather, but it was in surprisingly good shape. It wasn’t too long, but it proclaimed its suitability for for children aged 4-6 (he was five). It was called ‘The Trap Door’. No author, no other details. I picked it up and skimmed through the first few pages, and it seemed an ideal fit. It was written in an irregular rhyming meter, and it was festooned with colourful, scratchy illustrations that depicted a boy strikingly similar to my son. The picture was already forming in my head - we’d read it, we’d bond, and we’d smooth over the cracks.
I know it was just a book, but for the first time in my life, I realized I was excited to spend time with my son.
That night, after I’d tucked him into bed, I sat down on his shark duvet (he liked sharks), and I sprang the book upon him.
Once, long ago and far away
There lived a boy of five or so
With a rounded face and hair like hay
And a mind that yearned to learn and grow
The boy lived in a mud-flecked land
Of rolling hills and sheep and styles,
And brooks and trees and miles and miles
Of hinterlands and ranch hands
Long ago there was a war,
Of petty kings and border-lords
The earth did drink the blood of those
Who died for honor or a rose
The boy was happy as could be,
In the cottage on the hill
His mother his only company,
Who loved that boy with all her will
It’s challenging material for a five-year old. But it was educational, it was stimulating. I had only a faint idea of what the war of the roses was actually about, but I did a good job of pretending that I did.
We said our i-love-yous and I closed the door. Things were going to be okay.
The galaxy knows Alderaan as “the planet of beauty”. Nature, poetry,
philosophy, art, couture, cuisine—we freely share all with all. But the
temptation to belligerence can never be erased. Our ruler—one day,
you must struggle to keep the culture focused on creativity, love, and
life. Whatever happens, Leia… you must keep Alderaan alive.