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French Quarter Tour

Have heard of "treasure of the archdiocese?"

Bourbon street at night

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana Photo by WyoJones. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

When we moved to New Orleans, visits from friends and family ramped up, despite rumors that our one guest bed was kind of a nightmare to sleep on (we changed it when we finally found out lol). The first place everyone wanted to go was the French Quarter. We had some great times, and great food, in the French Quarter. 

If you haven’t been to the French Quarter, you might wonder what it is. Well, let me tell you!

The French Quarter lays on the banks of the Mississippi River right where New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the two brothers and explorers, Iberville and Bienville. The French Quarter is America’s only French Colonial and Spanish settlement still intact, occupied, and lived in. Since 1718, this district has survived fires, floods, hurricanes, yellow fever, and wars. 

New Orleans was one of the first planned cities in the US. From 1721 to 1722. Bienville with two French engineers designed a French military-style city layout. At the square a church, a prison, and a rectory were constructed at the same spot the St. Louis Cathedral, Presbytere and Cabildo were later built in the late 18th century—all three still stand as a testimony to the prosperity of the city in the late 1700s.


In 1762 Louisiana was transferred to Spain, so it was their responsibility when a massive fire destroyed most of the homes and buildings in the French Quarter in 1788. The city was hit by another destructive fire in 1794. Therefore, the only structure that remains from this era is the Ursuline Convent, built in 1745. However, a house called Madame John’s Legacy, erected in 1788, exemplifies the French colonial style.

After the fire, Spain rebuilt the city, using their building codes of protective plaster on exterior walls and slate and tile for the roofs. Of course, the new houses and buildings looked more Spanish than French. Hand-forged wrought iron was introduced in the 1790s, but since it was so pricey, it wasn’t used much, except for grand, expensive buildings. But, in the 1830s a more affordable alternative, cast iron, became available and its florid, lacey appearance enhanced the French Quarter.

French Quarter Land Marks:

The French Market grew from a Native American trading post into the mercantile center of New Orleans with ships, traders, and merchants bringing in goods from all over the world. There, French and Spanish colonist could buy anything from African coffee to Choctaw sassafras. In the late 19th century, one of the first African American Architects, Joseph Abeilard, gave the French Market its modern day, bizarre-like design.

St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Originally constructed in 1727 and dedicated to King Louis IX of France, it burned down in the great fire of 1794 but was rebuilt. The current structure has stood since the 1850s. 

After the fires of 1788 and 1794, a Spanish philanthropist and nobleman Don Andres Almonester y Roxas paid for the new Cabildo, Cathedral, and Presbytere. The Presbytere was fashioned to look like the Cabildo. From 1834 to 1911 it served as the courthouse. In 1847 a mansard roof and a cupola were added. Nowadays the Presbytere is a Mardi Gras museum.

The Old Ursuline Convent, known as the “treasure of the archdiocese,” was built in 1752. It’s the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley and America’s oldest example of the French colonial era.

Historic Bourbon Street, in the heart of the French Quarter, dates back to 1718. It was named in 1721 to honor the French royal family, Rue Bourbon.

So, you can see that there is a lot more to the French Quarter than incredible music, food, drinks, and fun. The French Quarter of New Orleans is a vital part of our country’s history and a National Historic Landmark.

If you’ve been there, let me know what you think about the French Quarter. If you haven’t been there, did this help?

Perilously yours,


Don’t have time for a trip to New Orleans? Take a fictional journey to the city that care forgot in my Big Uneasy series! The latest installment is Worry Beads!

Worry Beads cover art

Releasing Dec 1! Click on the cover to preorder now!

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