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Considered the historic heart of New Orleans, the French Quarter is known for its eventful nightlife and its wide variety of colorful buildings decorated with cast-ironed balconies. Visitors can often find themselves surrounded by both the past and the present, whether it be by exploring the reimagined French Market, searching through modern boutiques, or wining and dining at a variety of restaurants.
The French Quarter is also known as Vieux Carré, meaning “Old Square” in French. It is one of the oldest residential communities in the United States, officially becoming a National Landmark in 1996. It was founded in the year 1718 and currently inhabits the same area originally laid out as the City of New Orleans in 1722.
While founded under French rule, ownership was eventually transferred to Spain in 1762. Although Spanish rule only lasted for four decades, its influences can still be seen in the city to this day, predominately in the architecture. The Quarter’s most known characteristics, such as wrought-iron balconies and walled courtyards, are all heavily influenced by the previous Spanish rulers. Today, over 4,000 residents call the French Quarter home, with their beautiful homes often drawing the attention of visitors passing through.
The French Quarter and its residents are no strangers to hard times. They have withstood several disasters, starting with massive fires in 1788 and 1794. Both of these fires, unfortunately, destroyed over 80 percent of the French Quarter’s buildings. The Quarter was able to recover and stood strong during both the Battle of New Orleans and the American Civil War.
In 2005, the city was able to escape the devastating flooding from the infamous Hurricane Katrina, but only narrowly. Due to all of this adversity, the French Quarter is often seen as a sign of strength and is considered one of the most resilient places in America.
St. Louis Cathedral
New Orleans is one of the few cities that is easily identifiable by a single piece of architecture. The Saint Louis Cathedral is one of the most well-known landmarks in New Orleans and is considered one of the tallest and most imposing structures in the French Quarter. It has been featured in hundreds of movies and television shows, making it one of the most recognizable structures to visitors.
Originally built in 1727, the Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Unfortunately, the original structure burnt down in 1794, but it was rebuilt and completed in the 1850s. The Cathedral features a towering center spire, which is complemented by two smaller spires on each side and a pedestrian-only plaza entrance. Although it is a Catholic house of worship, its rich and beautiful history and design calls to visitors of all religious beliefs and nationalities.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. It’s not even past”, and no place is more evident of that than St. Louis Cemetery No.1 located in the City of New Orleans. Built in 1789, St. Louis holds the title of the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Known as the “city of the dead”, its stacks of above-ground graves and tales of those who now reside there, including the well-known Marie Laveau, attract more than 100,000 visitors each year.
Café Du Monde
Established in 1862, Café Du Monde is one of the most popular establishments in the New Orleans French Market. It is open to guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, closing only on Christmas Day and when the threat of a hurricane appears.
While it is a traditional coffee shop, there is another menu item that has gained its own claim to fame. Guests travel from far and wide just to get a taste of their famous beignets, French-style doughnuts that are square-shaped and topped with powdered sugar.
Despite its rather odd and confusing spelling, the word "beignet" is pronounced "ben-yay".
Experience the French Quarter Yourself
Cajun Encounters New Orleans city tours allow visitors to see first-hand the locations and attractions that make the French Quarter so unique, including the Saint Louis Cathedral and Cemetery, the French Market, City Park, and so much more. Cajun Encounters allows those seeking a more comfortable experience to enjoy uninterrupted views from inside climate-controlled buses, guaranteeing a relaxing, educational trip.
Cajun Encounters New Orleans bus tours are offered at three different times of the day. The morning tour includes daily pick-ups at 8:30 am and offers guests a look into the historic city, including the experience of coffee and beignets for breakfast. The mid-day tour begins at 11:15 am daily and offers a complete city tour, including a drive through the 9th ward. The afternoon tour begins daily pick-ups at 2:30 pm and offers a full city tour, lasting for two and a half hours.
Visitors can experience first-hand the famous neighborhoods that make New Orleans so well-known, including the French Quarter and the Garden District, but the tours do not end there. Cajun Encounters also offers a look at well-known attractions, including the St. Louis Cathedral and Cemetery No.1, the French Market, and The National World War II Museum. So, what are you waiting for? Book your New Orleans bus tour today!