POSTED Tue. Jul 5, 2016

NOLA History

New Orleans, Je T’aime
Written by FRITZ ESKER

New Orleans’ French heritage is so ubiquitous it is occasionally taken for granted. Everyone is aware of it, but many people don’t stop to visit the sites that help give New Orleans its unique French flavor. As Bastille Day draws close, here are some sights and tastes of France that you can experience here in the Crescent City.

Bastille Day Fete
City Park
New Orleanians have a habit of honoring their French heritage by celebrating Bastille Day and French independence with a variety of events. The venerable French Quarter restaurant Arnaud’s has a Bastille Day Dinner on July 14th at 7 pm featuring wine, French food, and communal dining. A specialty cocktail, the Parisian Spritz, will be offered by the restaurant’s French 75 bar.

The official Bastille Day Fete has been voted the third best Bastille Day celebration in the world by Reuters. The party kicks off from 4 pm to 10 pm on July 15 and features local musicians, French and English tours of the New Orleans Museum of Art, a French cooking demonstration, mini French language lessons, and fun activities for children.

“Bastille Day Fete is bigger than ever this year,” said Consul General of France Gregor Trumel. “The French National Day is celebrated all over the world, and it means something special in Louisiana. We are very proud to organize this great event at NOMA, as a special French gift to the people of New Orleans!”

The event strives to create the atmosphere and ambience of a French town. Inside NOMA, the Lost Bayou Ramblers will play a 3-hour set. It’s $5 admission to NOMA (free for NOMA members), but the outdoor events are free.

As part of the fete, on Friday July 15 from 5-5:30 pm, dog owners and enthusiasts can watch or participate in the Bastille Day Dog Contest, a pageantry of pups dressed in their best French attire. The event will be held in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art, and a portion of proceeds will benefit the Louisiana SPCA.

While Bastille Day is the official holiday for celebrating Francophone heritage around the world, in a sense, New Orleans celebrates its French roots on a daily basis via its architecture and culture. Here are some examples.

The Old Ursuline Convent
1112 Chartres St
The oldest building in the Mississippi Valley, the Old Ursuline Convent represents one of the few authentic, intact examples of architecture from the city’s French colonial period . It was designed in 1745, completed eight years later. And has served as a convent, a school, and a meeting place for the Louisiana Legislature.

The National Parks Service describes it as “the finest surviving example of French Colonial public architecture in the country.” The convent is open for tours Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm and Saturday from 9am-3pm.

Bayou St. John
Without Bayou St. John, the city of New Orleans might not exist. It was a crucial trading route linking the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans founder Jean Baptiste Bienville LeMoyne immediately realized the waterway’s strategic significance in transport and battle.

You may not want to transport goods or wage wars, but you can travel the waterway the city’s French founders used via kayak-Iti-Yat, which offers two hour kayak tours of Bayou St. John.

Tours are $40 per person and are available by reservation only. Minimum of 2 kayakers per tour.

713 St. Louis St
Established in 1840, Antoine’s is the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States. It didn’t move to its current location until 1868, but Antoine’s has been a hit with locals and tourists seeking French-Creole cuisine ever since. Escargots a la Bordelaise, Oysters Rockefeller, and Pomme de Terre Souffles are some of the most popular dishes at this venerable eatery.

Antoine’s is open for lunch Monday-Saturday from 11:30am-2pm and dinner from 5:30-9pm. The Jazz Brunch is Sunday from 11am-2pm. Make reservations at 504-581-4422.

Degas House
2306 Esplanade Ave
Edgar Degas, one of the most iconic artists of the French Impressionist movement, spent a year in New Orleans from 1872 to 1873 – twelve months that had a profound impact on his painting. You can see where he stayed at the restored Degas House, home of the artists’ maternal relatives. Degas created 18 paintings and 4 drawings here, the only known home or studio of Degas open to the public in the world.

The guided Edgar Degas House Creole Impressionist Tour ($29) runs seven days a week, at 10:30am and 1:45 pm. Reservations are required – call 504-821-5009. A screening of the documentary Degas in New Orleans: a Creole Sojourn is included in the tour of the home and surrounding neighborhood.

Self-guided tours are $15 per person and available Monday through Saturday from 10am-4:30pm. If you’d like to spend the night, the Degas House also functions as a bed and breakfast.

The French Library
3811 Magazine St
If you’d like a taste of French-language books, visit The French Library, which opened this year on Magazine St. There’s a special slant towards children’s books, and the establishment looks to be a useful partner to the city’s immersion/bilingual schools like Ecole Bilingue and Lycee Francais.

French Treats
If you want French dessert foods, La Riviere Confiserie (3719 Magazine St) imports gifts and sweet from France. Joanna Sese of Lycée Francaise says it’s the “only place I can think of where you can purchase pate de fruit.”

Dat Iceroll (3336 Magazine St) offers French ice cream. For Gallic pastries, from petit fours to croissants, visit La Boulangerie (4600 Magazine St) or Le Croissant d’Or (617 Ursulines Ave). And for an excellent baguette, pain perdu or croque monsieur, stop by Mister Gregory’s in the Quarter (896 N Rampart).

Monde Creole Walking Tour
For a walking tour of some of the city’s historic French sites (French Quarter courtyards and homes, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, etc), try Monde Creole Walking Tours). Not only will you get a thorough grounding in the city’s French history, tours are also offered in both English and French. Tours leave daily at 10:30am and cost $25 for adults.

Pitot House
1440 Moss St
The only Creole colonial country house open to the public in New Orleans, Pitot House was painstakingly restored in the 1960s. There are lovely gardens, views of Bayou St. John, and Louisiana antiques dating back to the early 1800s. Tours are open Wednesday-Saturday from 10am-3pm. $10 admission.

Image: the Degas House via Facebook.

POSTED Dec 30, 2016

NOLA History

Bearing Witness at the Whitney Plantation

Bearing Witness at the Whitney Plantation

Visitors to New Orleans often make day trips to the old Gold Coast plantations along the Mississippi river, where wealthy landowners made a fortune growing sugarcane harvested with…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Dec 5, 2016

Creative Culture

The Mermaid Lounge Rises Again

The Mermaid Lounge Rises Again

“Did you hear!? The Mermaid is closing!” Twelve years ago this month, in December 2004, that news was greeted with stunned disbelief by the hundreds of musicians, artists…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Nov 30, 2016


Celebrating the Season the Islenos Way

Celebrating the Season the Islenos Way

The last vestiges of Spanish Colonial Louisiana reside in the least fancy of places: New Orleans East. Out in St Bernard Parish, just before the land tapers off…....

POSTED Nov 29, 2016

Creative Culture

A Creole's 'Krazy' Take on the Comics

A Creole's 'Krazy' Take on the Comics

When I moved to New Orleans in 2001, Michael Tisserand was then editor-in-chief at Gambit Weekly. When I worked there, I found him smart, funny, and deeply sympathetic…....


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



    was added to your favorites.



    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook