Easy Breezy French Quarter Tour Map and Itinerary
As you can see from our sample French Quarter Tour Map below, we are going to cover a lot of ground. In fact, we’ll traverse more than 50 blocks between Iberville Street and Esplanade Avenue and between Burgundy and Decatur Streets!
As you take in French Quarter sites along the way, we will show you many images on your personal hi-def monitor. In addition, we will relate interesting stories and facts about New Orleans and Louisiana. Our goal is to try to make our history come alive for you!
Easy Breezy French Quarter Tour Map: Upper Vieux Carre
The green line in the French Quarter Tour Map shows the approximate route we will take while in the Upper Vieux Carre.
The Orleans Ballroom at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel (A)
Your adventure begins when we meet inside the lobby of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel located at 717 Orleans Street between Bourbon and Royal. If it is not in use, we will enter the Orleans Ballroom, a significant historic site. Then, we’ll board our “Time Machine” to begin our motorized journey.
The Gardette Le Pretre Mansion (B)
Our first stop will be to view the Gardette Le Petre Mansion for an engaging introduction to New Orleans folklore.
J.B. Debois House (C)
On the next block, we will see the balcony of the J.B. Debois House. It is one of the finest examples of hand forged wrought iron craftsmanship in the French Quarter. This building dates back more than 200 years.
The Courtyard at The Historic New Orleans Collection (D)
No visit to New Orleans is complete without an in-person visit to an authentic French Quarter courtyard. The Historic New Orleans Collection is home to one of the best in the city. We will walk approximately one hundred feet on Royal St. to access the Collection’s courtyard. The Historic New Orleans Collection is one of our favorite places in New Orleans. We are honored to introduce you to the Collection and hope you will return later for further exploration!
From the Collection’s website: “The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. General L. Kemper Williams and Leila Hardie Moore Williams, collectors of Louisiana materials who wished to share their holdings with the public, founded the institution in 1966.”
The Mississippi River (E)
Next, as you can see on the French Quarter Tour Map, we will sojourn to the Mississippi River. Along the way, we’ll explore why the river is so important to New Orleans and Louisiana life and history. Also, you’ll view compelling, river-related images on your monitor. At the river, we will exit the vehicle and take a 100-foot stroll to see the “Mighty Mississip’.” We are going to reveal some real surprises about it!
The Old Absinthe House (F) and The Hotel Monteleone (G)
As we continue, we’ll relate more about the period of French Domination (1699-1763). The stories of La Salle, Iberville, and Bienville exemplify the struggles of early Louisiana explorers and settlers. As we drive along Bienville St. and Iberville St., we will also point out the Old Absinthe House and the Hotel Monteleone.
The Old Absinthe House is one of the oldest stucco buildings in New Orleans and dates to approximately 1806. This world famous bar originated the Green Monster cocktail, which contained Absinthe. Subsequently, the government banned Absinthe for many years claiming it was poisonous. It purportedly caused hallucinations and even death. Nowadays, Absinthe is safe, so if you return here at a later date, you can try a signature Absinthe House Frappe!
The beautiful Hotel Monteleone contains the famous Carousel Bar that has been “spinning for 65 years.” You’ll be able to peek in the windows as we pass it.
Bienville Place (H)
Next, we’ll see a beautiful sculpture recalling the founding of New Orleans by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. Angela Gregory created it and oversaw its casting in France. The Louisiana Purchase Sesquicentennial Commission erected the statue near Union Station in 1955. In 1968, the French ambassador laid a wreath at the location to commemorate the 1718 founding of New Orleans. In 1996, the city moved the statue to its current location.
Easy Breezy French Quarter Tour Map: Lower Vieux Carre
The blue line in the French Quarter Tour Map shows the approximate route we will take while in the Lower Vieux Carre.
Madame John’s Legacy (I)
On our journey from Bienville Place to Madame John’s Legacy, we will segue from the Spanish Domination (1763-1803) to the American Domination (from 1803 on).
Madame John’s Legacy is another prime example of eighteenth-century Louisiana French Creole architecture. The home burned in the disastrous fire of 1788, but the owner rebuilt it in the same style of the original dwelling immediately after the fire. The building survived the subsequent fire of 1794. It remains one of only a handful of examples of this kind of architecture left in the Fench Quarter. Today Madame John’s is part of the Louisiana State Museum System.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (J)
This building dates from between 1722 and 1732. Many believe it to be the oldest structure in use as a bar in the United States. It is of typical French Creole style and has Briquette-Entre-Poteaux (brick between post) construction and a slate roof. The slate roof may have contributed to it escaping both great fires at the turn of the 19th Century.
There are many legends about where the Pirates Laffite spent their time in New Orleans. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar is home to one of them. Were Pierre and Jean Lafitte owners of a smithy? Most historians think not, and the spelling of their last name offers a clue as to why! Nonetheless, this is a perfect setting to learn more about the Laffites and the Battle of New Orleans.
Old Ursuline Convent (K)
The Old Ursuline Convent is officially the oldest French Colonial building in the Mississippi Valley. It was home to the Ursuline Nuns who came to New Orleans in 1727. For seven years, while waiting for the building’s completion, the nuns lived in Bienville’s “country house.” His home was on Bienville Street between Royal and Chartres Streets.
The Ursulines moved into their convent in 1734. By 1745, the building’s exposed wood deteriorated to such an extent they decided to rebuild. The building as we know it today dates to 1758. Luckily, it survived both great fires in the late nineteenth century.
The Ursuline Nuns have a very long and rich history in New Orleans, and we are looking forward to telling you their story. Their good works included educating the local people, (both wealthy and poor) and caring for the sick and needy. Especially trying times occurred during the terrible outbreaks of Yellow Fever that plagued the city until after the Civil War. The Ursuline Nuns even played a “divine” role at the Battle of New Orleans!”
Beauregard-Keyes House (L)
Across the street from the Ursuline Convent is the Beauregard-Keyes House. It was built in 1826 and has been home to many prominent New Orleanians. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was a Confederate general most famous for firing the first shot at Fort Sumter. Frances Parkinson Keyes was a famous, prolific author who wrote over 50 books, many of them while living in the home. World chess master, Paul Morphy, was born in the house, and his grandfather, Don Diego Morphy built it. Don Diego Morphy’s story is one of intrigue; he was the Spanish Consul during the Battle of New Orleans. He was also a spy who reported directly to Luis de Onis, the Spanish Ambassador.
The Old US Mint (M)
Our next stop will be the Old US Mint. President Andrew Jackson advocated establishing a mint in New Orleans to help finance western expansion, and it opened in 1838. A brick building in the Greek Revival style, it is one of the sturdiest buildings in New Orleans. Both the US and Confederate governments produced coins there, the only mint in the United States to claim that distinction.
Today, the Old US Mint is a property of the Louisiana State Museum System, and the enormous building houses many exhibits. One area features an extensive collection of coins minted and machinery used when the Mint was operational. The building also houses impressive art and jazz displays that change from time to time.
The site of the Old US Mint, Fort Charles, was the scene of two events that changed New Orleans forever, and both involved executions. The first occurred at the beginning of the Spanish Domination and the second when Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862. We’ll tell you what happened and why.
The LaLaurie Mansion (N)
The events at the LaLaurie Mansion on Royal Street serve as an excellent example of the power of storytelling in New Orleans. Delphine LaLaurie, also known as Madame LaLaurie, built the home in 1832. She lived there with her physician husband, their children, and slaves. One night in 1834 a fire broke out in the kitchen, and when people responded, they found unspeakable horrors.
There is no doubt that LaLaurie inflicted horrendous atrocities on her slaves. However, newspapers, books, television shows, and movies have built upon and sensationalized their stories. As a result, it has become almost impossible to separate fact from fiction and reality from fantasy. Retellings of the events by local ghost tour experts grow ever more exaggerated and grotesque.
Gallier House (O)
James Gallier, and after his retirement in 1849, his son James, were two of the most prominent architects in New Orleans during the 19th century. From 1834 until 1868 they designed and constructed dozens of homes and buildings throughout the city and achieved international fame. Their projects included the St. Charles Hotel, the Merchants Exchange, Gallier Hall, the Pontalba Buildings, the French Opera House, and Gallier House.
Both architects met untimely deaths. James Gallier was lost at sea on the steamship Evening Star together with his wife on October 3, 1866. His son passed away at age 40, in 1868, most likely from Yellow Fever. One can only guess how much more he would have accomplished had he not died so prematurely.
Built in 1857, today, Gallier House is open to the public. Restorers used a household inventory taken after James Gallier Jr.’s death to find suitable pieces to decorate the home. A visit brings you back 160 years and gives a good sense of what life was like for the well-off during Victorian times in New Orleans.
Andrew Jackson Hotel, the site of the first US District Court in the Louisiana Territory (P)
The Andrew Jackson Hotel occupies the former site of the first US District Court in the Louisiana Territory. Judge Dominc Augustin Hall presided, and his courtroom was the scene of an event that remains significant to this day.
Shortly after the Battle of New Orleans, Major General Andrew Jackson incarcerated Judge Hall instead of acquiescing to his command to present a prisoner according to a writ of habeas corpus. Because he had declared martial law, Jackson believed the law did not apply to him. With the Treaty of Ghent signed and ratified, Jackson rescinded his order of martial law, but Judge Hall promptly fined him $1000 for contempt of court!
Although Jackson paid the fine, the US Congress paid him back with interest in 1844. Perhaps Congress repaid Jackson out of respect for an old war hero’s last wishes, but did the restitution become a precedent for a general or president to bend the law of the land in the future?
Cornstalk Hotel (Q)
The Cornstalk Hotel features one of two identical whimsical cast iron fences you can see in New Orleans. Made by Wood & Perot in Philadelphia in 1858, they delight guests and visitors from around the world. You can see the other one at the former home of Colonel Robert Henry Short in the Garden District. While Colonel Short purportedly claimed to have “commissioned” it for his wife who pined for the cornfields of Iowa, both examples apparently came from a catalog.
Jackson Square (R)
Every visit to New Orleans must include some time spent at this historic location. It dates back to 1721 when Adrien de Pauger laid out the original French Quarter. The design featured a parade ground for the use of both the French government and the King’s subjects.
From 1769 to 1803, the Spanish ruled Louisiana from the Cabildo, a building they erected on the site. The original Cabildo burned to the ground during the fire of 1788. After being rebuilt, the fire of 1794 destroyed it again. The Spanish then passed stringent fire codes and completed the imposing new version in 1799. It still stands today.
On November 30, 1803, at ceremonies in the Cabildo and on the parade ground, the Spanish government officially transferred Louisiana to France. Twenty days later, on December 20, 1803, French and American officials lowered the flag of France and raised the flag of the United States in the square. Thus began the period of the American Domination.
Visitors from all over the world come to Jackson Square to partake in its magic, making it one of the top tourist attractions in the US. Our 90-minute motorized French Quarter tour includes a brief visit inside the Cabildo, part of the Louisiana State Museum System.
At the end of your excursion, you are welcome to remain in Jackson Square or explore the French Quarter further on your own.