New Orleans/French Quarter

The French Quarter is the oldest and most famous and visited neighborhood of New Orleans. It was laid out in French and Spanish colonial times in the 18th century. While it has many hotels, restaurants, and businesses catering to visitors, it is best appreciated when you recall that it is still a functioning mixed-use residential/commercial neighborhood where locals live.


The French Quarter or "Vieux Carré" ("old square" in French) stretches along the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue (13 blocks long) and back from the Mississippi to Rampart Street (6 blocks wide).

"The Quarter" is compact. One can spend an enjoyable vacation here without leaving it for several days. If the French Quarter is your headquarters, consider leaving your car behind and not bothering to rent one if your health permits a few blocks walk. Parking is difficult, expensive, or both. Occasional trips to other parts of town can be made by streetcar or cab. The neighborhood is pedestrian friendly. Take care walking at night, particularly on dark or deserted streets. If you've been drinking, a cab is advisable.

The "Upper Quarter" (between Canal Street and Jackson Square) is the area most patronized by visitors, but the "Lower Quarter" (between Jackson Square and Esplanade Avenue) also has shops and restaurants sprinkled amongst the residences.

Jackson Square is the historic heart of the French Quarter

Get in, get around

Take the streetcar in if you're in Uptown or Mid City. Driving in on Interstate 10, take the Orleans Avenue or Vieux Carré exit. Once you're in the Quarter, it's best seen on foot. If you do drive within the Quarter, expect it to be SLOW, and watch for the pedestrians and bikes. The Quarter is very doable on a bike, but again be especially alert.

The Quarter is wider (from Canal to Esplanade) than it is deep (from the River to Rampart). Bourbon and Royal Streets (see below) are the main avenues running through the width of the French Quarter; sections are often closed off to motor vehicles. Parallel Chartres Street is often a better option for pedestrians actually heading somewhere when Royal and Bourbon are jammed with visitors. The heart of the Quarter is Jackson Square, listed below.


House Museums

Some elegant old homes which are now museums:


Stroll the streets, look at the architecture, shops, and people. Hear live music in the street, in restaurants, and music venues.

Live Music




Breakfast & Snacks




Pat O'Brien's is known for dueling pianos and hurricanes

The French Quarter has a wide variety of bars for all sorts of tastes. The legal drinking age is 21, sometimes though not always strictly enforced. If you are over 18 but under 21, you generally won't have much problem in New Orleans. Just play your cards right, act like an adult, drink responsibly and you'll have a good time. Don't argue with bartenders, liquor store owners or police officers unless you want to spend the night in OPP (Orleans Parish Prison) -- not pleasant. Rule of thumb for anyone wanting to party in Louisiana, regardless of age, don't drink and drive -- those staying in the Quarter will find bars within an easy walk, and others can take a cab.


Places within the French Quarter or just outside of it on Canal Street are the most centrally located, and also cost more than rooms in other parts of town. Those wishing a fuller immersion in the city may wish to go ahead and pay extra for a location from which they can find many days of things to do with no need of a car or transit.

Bed and Breakfasts


Go next

Walk across Canal Street and you're in the Central Business District. Take the red Canal Streetcar line to the attractions of Mid-City, or the green St. Charles Streetcar line to Uptown and Carrollton. The ferry at the foot of Canal Street (free for pedestrians, $1 for cars) will take you across the Mississippi to the Algiers neighborhood, and give you a scenic budget mini-cruise of the River in the process.

Just "below" (down river) from the French Quarter is the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, across Esplanade Avenue, with hip music joints and restaurants. A little further downriver and you are in the Bywater, a funky neighborhood with genuine corner bars, great restaurants and a friendly atmosphere.

Inland or "back" (away from the Mississippi River) from the Quarter is the Tremé neighborhood.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.