Continental US / South

Vieux Carre: Adventures in the French Quarter

On Wednesday I was not feeling so hot. After several trips to the bathroom and an ineffective dose of a cheap Pepto-Bismal knock-off brand, I decided to stay home today and sleep off what I later decided was a 24-hour stomach bug. By the time Fig and KP finished work around 3 I was already feeling better. We ate dinner in the house because we have enough leftovers so far this week to feed a small country and then headed into the French Quarter.

I know the French Quarter is the stereotypical New Orleans “tourist trap,” it can be kitschy and sometimes just plain over-the-top, but I’ll always love the wrought iron facades and balconies, the glowing lantern lights by Jackson Square set against the shiny neon of Bourbon Street. Something about it is just so beautiful and romantic. And the history geek in me can’t get enough.

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We started our tour just by walking around. The architecture is so beautiful that’s all you really need to do. We passed the horses and carriages by Jackson Square and stood looking up at St. Louis Cathedral.

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On Bourbon street we passed a lone fortune teller sitting behind her table. She told us her name was Amara and she was a gypsy. I know, you’re laughing at me now, but you would’ve believed her too. She looked just like a gypsy! So we sat down and had our palms read, tarot cards told, and our past lives unveiled. My reading revealed that I will live to be 89, get married “but not for a while” and have 3 kids (2 girls and 1 boy). And that was all well and good, but the best part of the reading was finding out what we were in our past lives. Here are the spark notes:

Rachel: I have two past lives, (1) as a queen and (2) as a maiden.

KP: (1) a warrior and  (2) an Egyptian slave.

Fig: Fig (a double art and biology major) (1) an artist and (2) a sea mammal.

Who knows whether any of this was legitimate, but I can’t think of anywhere better to get my past, present and future told.

After our foray with the fortune teller, we continued down Bourbon St. in search of an old bar that we were told only uses candles for light: Jean Lafitte’s. It turns out there are many Jean Lafitte’s on Bourbon St. from Jean Lafitte in Exile (a gay bar) to Jean Lafitte’s Absinthe Shop and Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. We saw all three and had drinks at two. If you’re looking for the “oldest bar in America” that still operates with candle light you’ll want Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop–it’s a little ways down Bourbon, but well worth the walk.

Quick History Lesson: Who was Jean Lafitte?
I’m so glad you asked! Jean Lafitte was a French pirate in the 19th century who could be sighted along the Gulf of Mexico. He helped his brother (fellow pirate Pierre Lafitte) by distributing smuggled goods from his shop in New Orleans. As the swash-buckling pirate that he is, he is somewhat of a legend in New Orleans. And now he has (at least) three bars named after him! These are the two we had a drink in.

Jean Lafitte’s Absinthe House


Inside the Absinthe House--also dark

Inside the Absinthe House–also dark

Absinthe House

Absinthe House

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop: Oldest bar in America

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop: Oldest bar in America

only lit by can candlelight

only lit by candlelight


We finished up the evening with a trip to Cafe du Monde for some beignets and hot chocolate and a quick toe-dip in the Mississippi. I do love the water.

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What’s your favorite stop in the French Quarter?

2 thoughts on “Vieux Carre: Adventures in the French Quarter

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