New Orleans is basically a small-town, made up of dozens of neighborhoods where families have lived in, on the same blocks for generations. Red beans and rice are served throughout the city on Monday, people visit the tombs of their departed on All Saints' Day, and from the smartest office to a local bar, people are ready to celebrate anything at the drop of a hat. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler - let the good times roll!.
To experience this fun-filled city, you can begin with the usual tourist attractions, but you must go beyond them to somewhere like corner store, sipping a cold drink t, or talking to a local orleanian. Orleanians love their city - most of them wouldn't live anywhere else. They treasure custom and tradition. The heart of New Orleans is the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, a 6-by-12-block rectangle along the Mississippi River where the city was originally settled by the French in 1718. Here the Creoles (children born in the colony to French and Spanish settlers) built their stately town houses, cathedral, marketplace, opera houses, and theaters. And here, served by African slaves, they developed one of the most sophisticated styles of living in North America.
Most of this old-world influence began to fade in 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the Americans, who were mostly Anglo-Saxons, moved into power. The Civil War in the 1860s put an end to the Golden Age of antebellum New Orleans, and the French Quarter went through years of decline and neglect. Only since the mid-20th century have the buildings been restored. The Quarter is conventionally divided into Upper and Lower sections, with Jackson Square at the midpoint. The Upper French Quarter includes Jackson Square, the riverfront, and some blocks toward Canal Street, containing the most frequented and photographed sites. If you have more time and stamina for walking, the Lower French Quarter, which includes the French Market, have some exciting places not as well known but well worth the effort.