2022 Summer Vacation: Part Five – The French Quarter

Once settled in the Omni Royal Orleans, we wanted to immediately explore the French Quarter. In this piece, I’d like to address some notable sites, restaurants, shopping, and tours. Before we get started, through, I found the French Quarter fascinating. In many ways, it was like traveling to another world. It is truly a culture unto itself, the architecture is amazing, and the streets feel as though you’ve gone backwards in time. However, I won’t lie–it is not a clean place. There are homeless everywhere. The sidewalks are uneven with holes, litter, and occasionally human waste. A smell permeates the area. Even so, the French Quarter oozes charisma. In my experience, there’s nowhere else like it. That being said, I don’t think we’ll be back anytime soon. All right, let’s get started with the final 2022 Summer Vacation article!

Sites

St. Louis Cathedral/Jackson Square – the two go hand-in-hand, so I’m going to lump them together. We thoroughly enjoyed the exterior of the St. Louis Cathedral. Frankly, even through we could, it never dawned on me to go inside. Upon retrospect, I wish we had. In truth, I found myself a little surprised by the amount of homeless and tarot card readers in front of it. I think that’s why we walked by, took it in, and then kept moving. Jackson Square is a historic park in front of the church and we found it exquisite. We were comfortable taking our time to explore the square. The mighty Mississippi exists just a few steps beyond Jackson Square, so we made our way up the steps to a viewing area.

Ignatius Reilly Statue – Located at 819 Canal St. between Bourbon and Dauphine, Ignatius can be found in front of the closed (abandoned?) Hyatt French Quarter Hotel. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, this is the main character from a novel called A Confederacy Of Dunces. I read the book years ago and loved it, which meant I obviously had to seek out this statue and get my picture with it. Unfortunately–and perhaps ironically–the homeless surrounded the statue. If my two young daughters were not with me, I would have gotten my picture with it, but it didn’t feel like a terribly safe spot to linger with children in tow.

Bourbon Street – After our visit to the Ignatius statue, we walked Bourbon Street back to our hotel’s area. Keep in mind that it was only around three in the afternoon. I wanted my daughters to be able to say they saw Bourbon Street, but I also wanted the most sanitary version possible. Luckily, they got to experience the incredible music, general elation, and fun-loving crowds without the unsuitable debauchery more likely at night. (Pay no attention to the Flamingo water bottle in the above picture. It’s a work thing involving my wife.)

Restaurants

I won’t lie to you–we had a very difficult time finding places to eat in the French Quarter. This is not because there weren’t plenty of options, but rather because we had trouble finding someplace with both the atmosphere, menu, and prices we preferred. Here are a few notable places we enjoyed.

Royal House – We chose this spot virtually right outside our hotel’s door primarily because we didn’t have to wait for a table and the menu appealed to us. As most of the restaurants in the French Quarter, it had an open air format, meaning that you entered through the front door but there were many other doors open as well that led to the sidewalks. We generally liked our food here and our waitress proved very friendly. My oldest daughter and I happened to see a mouse skirt out of the kitchen, look around, and then race back in. Of course, open doors, food, extremely old buildings–this kind of thing is going to happen. I kept eating. My daughter did not.

Ruby Slipper Café – There are a several Ruby Slippers throughout New Orleans. I have to admit that this was probably my favorite meal in the French Quarter. I highly recommend visiting their website and getting on their waitlist. We visited one morning for brunch and had to wait about an hour–extremely popular spot. Our waitress, though a little forgetful, was quite likeable. Best of all? The kids liked their food here.

Shopping

While we popped into several shops, there were three that really made a good impression on us.

Nola Kids and Nola, Jr – These were two children’s giftshops right next to each other. The first was primarily aimed at older kids, the second appealed to younger children’s tastes. We found the store clerks and the merchandise charming. Though eclectic, all of it certainly captured my youngest daughter’s interests.

Little Toy Shop – Again, another children’s store. I have to be honest, this was a quaint little toy store off Jackson Square. They had a very cool assortment of collector items, toys specific to New Orleans, and general mainstream toys. Both of my kids found little souvenirs here.

Fleurty Girl – This little gift shop on Chartres Street had a bit of everything. We found the shopkeeper extremely friendly, the merchandise humorous, and the whole place’s vibe quite lighthearted. We didn’t buy anything, but we most certainly could have. I only mention it because of all the stores we popped into, this one made a definite, positive, impression upon us.

Tours

Though we only stayed two days, the two tours we took made the whole trip worthwhile. I have nothing but good things to say about both of them.

New Orleans City and Cemetery Tour – We booked this tour through Gray Line, and we loved it. The two and a half hour bus tour covered the City Park and Café du Monde, Lake Pontchartrain, and a New Orleans cemetery. Our guide, Jim, was an absolute delight. His knowledge, humor, and general demeanor made the tour a blast. Furthermore, our driver, Dwayne, made us feel safe and in good hands the entire time. Our tour stopped by a Café du Monde in the City Park where we enjoyed delicious beignets and cafe au lait. We then moved on to a city cemetery where we walked around and learned fascinating pieces of information about the local cemeteries’ construction, as well as a few of that particular cemetery’s more notable inhabitants. We then drove by Lake Pontchartrain while gaining insights. Jim, who once taught at the University of Illinois, truly made the tour entertaining, educational, and memorable. This was by far my favorite thing we did in the French Quarter.

Ghost and Vampire Tour – Finally, my oldest daughter had only one request while in the French Quarter–a ghost and vampire tour. Though there were many, many choices available, we settled on French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tours. Our guide, Phil, walked us through the French Quarter streets while explaining to us not only the historical atrocities that occurred, but the supernatural results. It was very cool to tour the side streets of the French Quarter with a lifelong inhabitant, and it was also incredible to learn about some of the truly bizarre occurrences that have taken place over the centuries. Do I believe the supernatural tales Phil shared? Perhaps not, but I definitely believe the horrific things on public record that he detailed for us, and that was far scarier to me than the ghost stories! By the way, just to be clear, I’d like to say that this tour was absolutely appropriate for my ten-year-old. At one point Phil was concerned a story might be too graphic, so he specifically warned us that we might want to cover our daughter’s ears. We did, and it turned out that she could have handled the story, but we appreciated his kindness. By the way, my oldest daughter loved this tour.

That concludes our 2022 Summer Vacation! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you found these articles helpful. As always, feel free to leave any comments or questions.

One thought on “2022 Summer Vacation: Part Five – The French Quarter

  1. Jane Thomas says:

    Love your impressions of the French Quarter! It is truly an experience. I had to laugh about the mouse running out of the restaurant kitchen. Honestly, that’s more common than we like to think. I’m surprised it wasn’t a rat. Sounds like you all are having a wonderful summer. That’s great! And I’m with your daughter who like the “ghosts” tour. I always liked those too, LOL.

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