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20 Stunning Reasons To Visit The French Quarter In New Orleans

The stunning French Quarter in New Orleans. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The stunning French Quarter in New Orleans. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

A Photographic Tour of New Orleans’ Oldest District | Darrin Henry

There are many reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans, this famous city has long been on Sharon’s bucket list; the Voodoo angle tickles her fascination as she’s a fan of anything weird and spooky. We’ve talked about this place for so long that to finally be here is hard to believe!

Driving across the Interstate 10 bridge we were both tingling with excitement at the sight of New Orleans’ skyscraper skyline. Coming from an island where our tallest buildings reach just four storeys high, the novelty of seeing these gigantic glass and steel totem pole cities is not wearing off yet.The stunning architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The stunning architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Originally settled as a military outpost by the French in 1718 (as characterised by the military outlay of the streets) it is probably the most architecturally significant neighborhood in the USA.

Reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans

Like most visitors it’s the French Quarter that’s caught the imagination as the place to see. That said, apart from a few movies, including the James Bond adventure, ‘Live and Let Die,’ I didn’t really know what to expect. So I’m pleased to say, as a casual tourist it’s just gorgeous; a complete contrast to anything we’ve seen in the states so far. As a photographer, it’s a treasure trove of stunning streetscapes with classic European styled architecture, all neatly painted with vibrant colours that look spectacular in the summer sun.

I started this blog post intending to highlight 10 of the best images, but it proved too difficult to edit the selection down to just 10. So here instead are 20 of our favourite pictures from the charming streets of the New Orleans French Quarter.

Bicycles are a great way to get around in the French Quarter. The district is just 1.5m above sea level and there are no hills to worry about. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Bicycles are a great way to get around in the French Quarter. The district is just 1.5m above sea level and there are no hills to worry about. There are plenty of options for renting bicycles and for cycle tours of the city and the French Quarter. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

There are no shortage of places to eat in the French Quarter in New Orleans, from small cafes where you can sit under an umbrella sipping coffee, to an array of restaurants serving the regions world famous cuisine.

There are no shortage of places to eat in the French Quarter in New Orleans, from small cafes where you can sit under an umbrella sipping coffee, to an array of restaurants serving the regions world famous cuisine.

The French Quarter was occupied bythe Spanish from 1718 to 1762 and then the French again from 1800 until being sold to the U.S. as a result of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Two fires destroyed large portions of the Quarter in both 1788 and 1794 so many properties built before that time have been lost. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The French Quarter was occupied by the Spanish from 1718 to 1762 and then the French again from 1800 until being sold to the U.S. as a result of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Two fires destroyed large portions of the Quarter in both 1788 and 1794 so many properties built before that time have been lost. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

lt’s impossible to walk it’s narrow streets of the French Quarter and not see something different each time. Little architectural features take on a whole new look at a different time of day when the light changes.

lt’s impossible to walk it’s narrow streets of the French Quarter and not see something different each time. Little architectural features take on a whole new look at a different time of day when the light changes.

A Well Protected District

The city of New Orleans itself is just 300 years old having been founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, with the first buildings being constructed in the French Quarter. It’s sometimes also referred to as the Vieux Carré, which translates to “old square” in English. As the city’s oldest district it’s now designated a National Historic Landmark and any building works come under strict planning scrutiny in order to maintain the Quarter’s historic character.

The older buildings are protected by law; knocking them down, even to rebuild in the same design is prohibited.

The architecture of the Quarter is America’s finest stand of 19th century architecture and is a reflection ofthe native architectural traditions of those who have occupied it and an adaptation to the hot and humid semitropical Louisiana climate.

Creole townhouses are perhaps the most iconic pieces of architecture in the city of New Orleans, comprising a large portion of the French Quarter and the neighboring Faubourg Marigny. Creole townhouses were built after the Great New Orleans Fire (1788), until the mid-19th century. The prior wooden buildings were replaced with structures with courtyards, thick walls, arcades, and cast-iron balconies.

I was surprised to learn the summer months in New Orleans are also the wettest. Our visit to the French Quarter was interrupted each day by heavy rain showers.

I was surprised to learn the summer months in New Orleans are also the wettest. Our visit to the French Quarter was interrupted each day by heavy rain showers and many of the locals can be seen carrying umbrellas on the wet streets.

The Xiques House: This Greek revival residence was built in 1852 for Angel Xiques, a native of Cadiz, Spain and a partner in Laborde & Xiques, Importers of Cuban Products. This was the Spanish Consulate from 1871 to 1877. In 1884 a Gambling House operated here, followed by a cigar factory from 1885 to 1890. Escaping plans for demolition the house then continued as a residence. By 1934 it was a rooming house. Major renovations were completed in 1964 and 2001.

The Xiques House: This Greek revival residence was built in 1852 for Angel Xiques, a native of Cadiz, Spain and a partner in Laborde & Xiques, Importers of Cuban Products.
This was the Spanish Consulate from 1871 to 1877. In 1884 a Gambling House operated here, followed by a cigar factory from 1885 to 1890. Escaping plans for demolition the house then continued as a residence. By 1934 it was a rooming house. Major renovations were completed in 1964 and 2001.

I can’t help thinking the Spanish must be a little miffed that they don’t get a mention in the name of the place, when they’re actually responsible for most of the existing architecture in the French Quarter. Many of the original French buildings were destroyed in two great fires; 1788 and 1794. By then the Spanish controlled the area and rebuilt the district in their own style. The new buildings were designed also to reduce the risk of further fire destroying the entire district.

St Helena Could Fit In Here!

Today around 4,000 people live in the French Quarter which takes up an area of just 85 square blocks. It’s quite small. We’re able to walk throughout the entire district during the course of the morning which makes it quite amazing to know the whole population of our home island, St Helena, could be accommodated in here quite easily.

The architecture of the French Quarter is America’s finest stand of 19th century architecture; a reflection of the native architectural traditions of those who have occupied it and an adaptation to the hot and humid semi-tropical Louisiana climate.

The architecture of the French Quarter is America’s finest stand of 19th century architecture; a reflection of the native architectural traditions of those who have occupied it and an adaptation to the hot and humid semi-tropical Louisiana climate.

A further example of Creole townhouse architecture. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The Chateau LeMoyne in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

There's just an overload of photo opportunities in the French Quarter. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

There’s just an overload of photo opportunities in the French Quarter. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

We had been nervously expecting to practise our beginner French with the locals, but never did hear the language being spoken. No surprise as only a few French people remained mid 19th century. The area had become less ‘cool’ for the period and the cheaper rents meant many immigrants from Italy and Ireland came and settled.

A more creative and artistic community began moving in during the early 20th century.

Around this time also, new rules were made to preserve the cultural heritage of the district as this value was realised.

A Famous Tourist Destination Takes Shape

The area continued to evolve over the next century, driven by both national and world events, as it carved out an identity and reputation as an entertainment and cultural destination. There was also plenty of mystic around the French Quarter as the landing place of Voodoo in North America.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, also called St. Louis Cathedral. The first church on the site was built in 1718; the third, built in 1789, was raised to cathedral rank in 1793. The cathedral was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850, with little of the 1789 structure remaining.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, also called St. Louis Cathedral. The first church on the site in the French Quarter was built in 1718; the third, built in 1789, was raised to cathedral rank in 1793. The cathedral was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850, with little of the 1789 structure remaining.

Saint Louis Cathedral is in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is located next to Jackson Square and facing the Mississippi River. Nightfall brings a special look to the building and photographers visit in their hundreds to snap a night picture.

Saint Louis Cathedral is in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is located next to Jackson Square and facing the Mississippi River. Nightfall brings a special look to the building as it is lit up drawing photographers in their hundreds to snap a night picture.

Although we didn't do this ourselves, the carriage tours of the French Quarter looked like a really relaxing way to tour the district. If you stand nearby one of their stops you can pick up interesting tit bits of trivia listening to the driver and tour guides.

Although we didn’t do this ourselves, the carriage tours of the French Quarter looked like a really relaxing way to tour the district. If you stand nearby one of their stops you can pick up interesting tit bits of trivia listening to the driver and tour guides.

The decadence of Bourbon Street exploded during the Second World War, and although different district leaders have made attempts to ‘clean up’ the area, I get the feeling the economic benefits from tourism means today’s well policed version is here to stay.

(Click here for our story and pictures about the nightlife on Bourbon Street)

Hurricane Katrina’s devastating and tragic blow in 2005, left New Orleans broken; it’s been a long struggle to rebuild the city’s community and infrastructure and to recover. There is still more to do, but many reports I’ve read indicate a lot of progress has been made.

Worth A Visit With The Camera

The French Quarter, surprisingly, avoided much of the destructive flooding that followed Katrina, due to its elevation, 1.5m above sea level. Any damage sustained was minor.

A beautifully decorated flower box in a cafe window.

A beautifully decorated flower box in a cafe window.

The French Quarter is a 13 x 10 block area bound roughly by Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue., the Mississippi River and Rampart Street. 20 stunning seasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The French Quarter is a 13 x 10 block area bound roughly by Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue, the Mississippi River and Rampart Street. 20 stunning seasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

It's almost easy to forget the mighty Mississippi River borders one side of the French Quarter, an attraction in itself with steam/paddle boat tours daily. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

It’s almost easy to forget the mighty Mississippi River borders one side of the French Quarter, an attraction in itself with steam/paddle boat tours daily. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Most of the 2,900 buildings in the Quarter are either of "second generation" Creole or Greek revival styles. Fires in 1788 and 1794 destroyed many of the original French colonial buildings, that is, "first generation" Creole.

Most of the 2,900 buildings in the Quarter are either of “second generation” Creole or Greek revival styles. Fires in 1788 and 1794 destroyed many of the original French colonial buildings, that is, “first generation” Creole.

Certainly, today, the French Quarter is an absolutely beautiful district in terms of its architecture. It’s simply stunning and we’re so pleased we finally made it here. A day wandering the narrow streets is like stepping back in time, if it wasn’t for the modern cars parked on the curbs as a reminder we’re in the 21st century. But it really is like no other place (that we’ve seen) in the USA.

I’ve chosen my favourite 20 images, but the other few hundred are on my hard drive. Make sure bring your camera; you’ll be spoiled for choice.

The French Quarter is sometimes also referred to as the Vieux Carré, which translates to “old square” in English. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The French Quarter is sometimes also referred to as the Vieux Carré, which translates to “old square” in English. 20 stunning reasons to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

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