Since 1862, Café du Monde, http://www.cafedumonde.com, has been generously sprinkling powdered sugar over their tasty beignets (French donuts). If you don’t do anything else while in New Orleans stop here! Note to self … if you wear black … be prepared to be covered with powdered sugar. Everyone else is. With eight café locations, their oldest is in the French Market at 800 Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Look for the green and white awning and just sit down at an open table. Someone will be there to take our order shortly! This location is open 24 hours a day, except on Christmas and the occasional hurricane. FYI … beignets are served in orders of three. I’m not going to tell you how many orders to get. You will have to figure that one on your own. Paired with creole coffee, hot chocolate, or milk, there isn’t anything more decadent!
Stroll down bawdy Bourbon Street in the French Quarter just once in your life so you can cross it off your bucket list. For the faint-hearted, make that visit during daylight hours. The street is loaded with bars, restaurants, strip clubs and hotels. I got way too close to the door of a strip club and was asked if I would like to step in for a pole dancing lesson. Really? I didn’t know whether to feel mortified or glorified at that moment. Streets get crowded with party-goers later in the day carrying around plastic fish bowl-shaped glasses of mind-altering liquid. And yes … drinking alcoholic beverages while strolling down the street is legal in New Orleans.
You can book and pay for all kinds of tours on http://www.NewOrleans.com before you even leave home. I recommend the French Quarter Ghost Walking Tour (ages 13 and up). With choices like the “The Vampire Tour” (I’m scared of vampires so we couldn’t do that one), “Voodoo Tour,” a “Cemetery History” tour, we opted for the “French Quarter Ghost Tour.” The meeting location for this particular tour company, http://www.hauntedhistorytours.com, was Rev. Zombies Voodoo Shop in the French Quarter with departure times at 6 pm and 8 pm. People … these walking tours are VERY popular! Reservations in advance make life so easy. Cost is $20 per person and lasts 2 hours. Wear good walking shoes! Your guide takes a group of 20 for a stroll through history stopping in front of haunted locations and imparting stories of woe through the ages. Note there is a bar/drink break halfway through the tour at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop/bar (also haunted).
Browse through the many art galleries in the French Quarter. Our absolute favorite is the Rodrigue Gallery http://www.georgerodrigue.com at 730 Royal Street. It is the home of George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog. You will fall in love with his bold use of color and the many interesting images and situations of Rodrigue’s Blue Dog, which by the way is not always blue. So the art is pricy, but hey, he has an affordable line of children’s books and prints a yearly calendar you can purchase on-line. Oh, if you prefer to wear your art, my daughter’s favorite t-shirt is a Blue Dog version we purchased several years ago at the Blue Dog Cafe (www.bluedogcafe.com) in Lafayette. You can also enjoy his art at Mulate’s, http://www.mulates.com, 201 Julia Street, a New Orleans Cajun Restaurant over by the Convention Center where I had my favorite bowl of gumbo. Spoiler alert … more about that in my next blog.
The New Orleans Cooking School located at 524 St. Louis Street has been in existence for almost 30 years. Who knew? I didn’t. Their lively cooking demonstrations and entertaining history lesson cost $29 per person and can also be reserved through http://www.NewOrleans.com. We signed up for their 10 a.m. morning class. Allow at least 2 hours and come hungry, as part of the experience is getting to feast on the goodies they prepare! Each class seats about 60 and is very popular so reserve ahead of time. We sat next to a family who was coming to the school for the third time. Michael, our awesome host, cooked Shrimp and Artichoke Soup, Crawfish Etouffee, Bread Pudding and Pralines. Not only did we leave with full tummies, we also were given copies of the recipes that were cooked. I also understand they have a hands-on cooking class. Cost is obviously more with smaller numbers in the classes. Check the website for details.
Be sure and stop by my blog next time to learn about the food, where to stay … and not stay, interesting transportation options, historic churches and our absolute favorite museum in New Orleans.