The spiritual and cultural heart of New Orleans is the French Quarter, where the city was originally settled by the French in 1718. You can easily spend several days visiting museums, shops, and eateries in this area. Yet the rest of the city’s neighborhoods, radiating out from this focal point, also make for rewarding rambling. The mansion-lined streets of the Garden District and uptown, the aboveground cemeteries that dot the city, and the open air along Lake Pontchartrain provide a nice balance to the frenzy of the Quarter.
Despite its sprawling size, residents treat New Orleans like a small town, or perhaps like a collection of small towns. Families have lived in the same neighborhoods for generations; red beans and rice is served throughout the city on Monday; people visit the tombs of their departed on All Saints’ Day; and from the smartest office to the most down-home local bar, New Orleanians are ready to celebrate anything at the drop of a hat.
To experience this fun-filled city, you can begin with the usual tourist attractions, but you must go beyond them to linger in a corner grocery store, sip a cold drink in a local joint, or chat with a stoop-sitter. New Orleanians, for all their gripes and grumbling, love their city. They treasure custom and tradition, take in stride the heat and humidity of a semitropical climate, and face life with a laid-back attitude
Add comment February 21st, 2006