Laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll could be best described as the Leitmotif of Creole lifestyle. People from the South, especially from the Big Easy, as New Orleans is also called, are simply warm hearted and adorable.
Honey, Darling, Sweetheart are just a few expressions that you hear when they first touch base with you.
When we generally think of New Orleans we associate it with its French Quarter and its infamous Bourbon Street or maybe with Hurricane Katrina which virtually wiped away half of the city back in 2005. Forcing almost a million people to leave the city forever.
The French Quarter survived. People slowely came back, the Warehouse district with its fine galleries of the beaten track developed and Marigny became an important counterbalance to touristy French Quarter.
But where to start when describing the city or to mention the reasons for a visit to a city which is celebrating its 300th birthday in 2017? It is worth spending a couple of days. Dicover the marvelous French and Spanish influenced architecture when strolling through the streets.
Enjoy a cup of cafe au lait and eat some delicious pastries. Try the famous baignets at Cafe du Monde next to Jackson Square close to the Mississippi shores.
Food? Come on, you are in the South, it is a heaven for food lovers. Try catfish, red beans or Gumbo.
Music? Apart from Bourbon Street there is Frenchman Street - less tourisic with excellent bars with even better live bands performing there every day.
Home of Jazz? Call it fusion. Today it is more an eclectic mix of all different music syles. I personally attended a session of a band covering stuff from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, mixing Reaggae and Jazz - simply gorgeous.
Where to stay? You'll have the choice. All major hotel chains are present and you usually get a decent room for 80 to 150 Dollars.
On the top end I would definately recommend the Loews New Orleans. This is a modern 5 star hotel with wonderful rooms and in walking distance to the French Quarter, River Walk or the WW2 Museum.
If you fancy a hotel with a bit more history reflecting the glorious past of the grand old South then pick the Monteleone right on Royal Street. I have been told that they have a ghost and that if you are lucky you might spot him right next to the monstrous grandfather clock in the lobby.
I personally picked the Modern, a boutique hotel close to the art museums (Ogden, Museum for contemporary art and World War II museum). The stop of the street car is just in front of the hotel and 1,25 Dollar take you to the French Quarter in less than 10 minutes.
Rooms sell for approx 90 Dollars and a continental breakfast is included.
Another great way to discovering southern hospitality is to choose one of the many independently owned and operated Bed & Breakfasts. The houses and their proud owners all have a story to tell and love their place. This is what you feel when you are entering their places.
I was simply blown away when discovering one of these places in fashionable Frenchmen Street. R&B's perfectly decorated and themed rooms make you feel like king and queen ruling New Orleans for Mardigras. The place is not cheap but worth every single penny. Priced start at around 250 Dollars. http://www.rbbedandbreakfast.com/
For other B&B's I would simply recommend checking current Tripadvisor listings
My personal New Orleans recommendations:
- A guided free walking tour through the French Quarter
- A cafe au lait with local speciality baignets at Cafe du Monde (although very touristy)
- Pubcrawling with live music and local arts market at Frenchmen Street
- Rent a bike
- Watch Bourbon Street madness from the balkony of America's oldest gay bar cafe Lafitte
- Buy a 24 h travel pass for three dollars for the historic streetcar network