It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve strolled around the French Quarter, I always see something new. This time it was a wedding party shuffling down Royal Street with a marching band. The bride is beautiful don’t you think?
I like to think of the Quarter as the layers of a quilt. The top layer is often pieced together with lots of interesting colors of fabric … like the quaint antique shops and art galleries of Royal Street. The bottom fabric layer is often a large single piece of fabric with one identity … the seedy and colorful underbelly if you will … like bawdy Bourbon Street. But does anyone ever see the fluffy batting that lies between the two layers of a quilt? That is what I searched for in September while hubby attended his seminar.
This time I wandered into one of the gift shops along Jackson Square. Located at 523 St. Ann Street is what looks like a typical New Orleans gift shop, only on steroids, with lots of interesting history books and boxed pralines and all things New Orleans. It turned out to actually be a museum gift shop and a National Historic Landmark run by the Louisiana State Museum (www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/1850house.aspx). I never saw it coming. For a modest $3 (adult price) you can self-guide yourself up the spiral staircase in the back of the gift shop. The second and third floors of the antebellum row house will quickly turn back the clock 163 years. The rooms are furnished to represent life in the 1850’s before the Civil War. It is a lovely way to see with your own eyes what life must have been like before cell phones and computers.
There is only a small sign on the door which reads “Faulkner House Books” (www.faulknerhouse.net). If you walked past the shop after quitting time when the place is buttoned up tight, you wouldn’t even know it was there. It is another interesting layer of the French Quarter. Located at 624 Pirate’s Alley just off Jackson Square, it is also a National Literary Landmark that should not be missed. In 1927, the young William Faulkner rented rooms in the same space that houses the bookshop. Books in the tiny space can be found in every nook and cranny clear up to the ceiling. Closed only on Mardi Gras Day, they sell new, used and rare editions.
There is so much more to tell about the French Quarter. I’ll attempt to tie the layers of the quilt together next time. Or maybe I’ll just play around in the fluffy batting for a bit longer!