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The French Quarter (La Ville Française)

The French Quarter is, of course, one of the big tourist areas of New Orleans. Who hasn’t already heard of Bourbon Street and the raucous debauchery of bar after bar that lines it. It can get so bad that apparently they wash down the street daily. But that’s not all that’s there.

art-market-french-quarterThe Art in the Quarter

My hosts and I ended up going to the French Quarter at night and wandered into an art market in a side area. It was like 80 something degrees still (maybe 79 degrees) and many people were out and about. The art for sale was the usual selection: photography, paintings, crafted jewelry and accessories. It was pretty nice to see such a thing in New Orleans and made me feel like there was a little bit of Portland there.

If you like to visit art shops and museums, be sure to check out Royal Street, which is only one block over from Bourbon. Far less advertised, there are many places to take a peek at the creative things so many other people have made.

st-louis-cathedralThe Spirit of Jackson Square

One of the other main tourist attractions in the French Quarter is Jackson Square at the edge of which sits the St. Louis Cathedral. They still hold mass there. Of course, if you didn’t already know, Louisiana in general is unique, with parishes instead of counties, and the catholic influence is a bit stronger there thanks to both French and Spanish influences. The cathedral is amazingly large and awesome to see in person.

Jackson Square itself is a large gated park area with a fountain and several benches where you can simply relax and enjoy the scenery. Of course, it’s surrounded by the architecture of the French Quarter and includes some interesting shrubbery that is so tightly wound together, you can shake part of it and it will ripple out for several feet. Another fun fact: normally, when a statue has a figure on a horse with the front legs raised it means that person fell in battle, but the statue of Andrew Jackson is an exception.

Visit the Saint Louis Cathedral website

Read about the Jackson Square on Wikipedia

live-music-at-nightMusic, Market and Magic

Some of the other things you can find in the French Quarter include street music, the French Market and voodoo shops. As we walked along at night in the French Quarter, we came across some music that someone was playing on the street. It was pretty peppy and people clustered to listen closely to it. We didn’t stay a long time, but it was fun to listen to. Thankfully, this is common enough, you’ll likely run into it haphazardly if you go.

The French Market is like a large covered outdoor market with both food and products sold. It reminded me of Pike Place market in Seattle. Honestly, I didn’t get to see it in full swing. We only happened to go through as people were dismantling their counters and tables. I saw (and smelled) just enough to get an impression of what it probably feels like at its peak hour.

One of the things I definitely wanted to do was visit the voodoo shops, and we found three in the French Quarter. The first shop we went to was Voodoo Authentica. It was pretty quiet and had some odds and ends mixed in with candles, books, charms and the like. The woman at the counter typed on her Mac while we browsed. The second place was called Esoterica Occult Goods. It reminded me a lot of metaphysical shops I used to frequent way back when I first started getting into occult studies. The shop keeper was a riot. She mixed some drink for a friend in the back part of the shop and when it came time to make a purchase, she just kept wanting to chat like we were all good friends. The third and last voodoo related shop we went to was Hex Old World Witchery. It was actually one of two locations (the other being in Salem, MA) and run a lot like a store. There was a woman getting trained, a helpful lad with purple (or was it maroon?) hair and a fairly informative woman who helped one of my hosts figure out options for addressing her pregnancy induced fatigue and uneasiness. As much as it seems like poppycock to look to magic for answers, it’s amazing how little information there is out there to try to address such things. Also, the woman who helped was pretty down-to-earth about the whole thing, and started by asking if my host was getting a full night’s sleep. I recommend visiting any of these three places if you want to check out the magic scene.

Visit the Voodoo Authentica website

Visit the Esoterica Occult Goods website

Visit the Hex Old World Witchery website

See photos of the French Quarter

Next Post on New Orleans

City of the Dead. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

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