A January 2004 trip
to New Orleans by MissKitty
Quote: An unexpected cold front gave us a different perspective on a familiar destination. We stayed in the quiet part of the French Quarter, and enjoyed getting to know some of the locals.
Hotel | "Le Richelieu Hotel"
The most unique feature of Le Richelieu is the free parking. This is the only hotel in the French Quarter that offers free self-parking and easy access to your car. If you've visited New Orleans before, you know that paying a $20 to $35 a night to park your car is not unusual, so this was a great plus.
Since we were in town during an off time, we got a good rate on a suite -- $175. When we arrived, we were upgraded to the Paul McCartney Suite (he stayed here several years ago), which was very nice. We had a full kitchen (but no microwave or coffeemaker), a separate bedroom, and a great balcony overlooking Chartres Street. If it hadn't been so cold and windy, we would have spent a lot more time out there, watching the horse-drawn carriages go by and enjoying the great view. A little table and a couple of chairs would have been nice, though.
The staff was friendly and helpful, and room service (mostly breakfast items and sandwiches), was reasonably priced and good. The bar downstairs was nice and cozy, and the lobby is lovely. Our suite was clean and nicely furnished, although there was no place to work. To use my laptop, I had to sit on the edge of the bed and balance it on one knee.
I really enjoy this location, near some of the oldest restaurants and sites in the French Quarter. The Old Ursuline Convent is down the street, and the French Market, Cafe Sbisa and Central Grocery are right around the block on Decatur. Irene's is nearby, and the Croissant d'Or is near enough to grab some great pastries for breakfast. Bourbon Street is far enough away not to be annoying, yet close enough to get to if you want. Royal Street, with its great shopping and restaurants, is a block away.
We really enjoyed our stay here, but I would have appreciated a little more. Since we were in the hotel's premier suite, it was disappointing not to have a microwave, coffeemaker, or work desk. And the carpeting was a little too grimey to walk around in our socks. Maybe we were spoiled by our stay at the Windsor Court last year, but I'll probably not stay at Le Richelieu next time. Still, the location is great and the free parking is a bargain, so give it a try if you can get a really good rate.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 19, 2004
1234 Chartres St.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
We lingered in the bar until about 1pm, when things settled down a little, and then had a delicious lunch. My companion had a fried seafood dish, which he enjoyed thoroughly, and I had Chicken Clemenceau, a chicken breast lightly covered with cream sauce, onions, mushrooms, and peas. It was very nice, and the accompanying salad and bread were delicious.
The upstairs has several small dining rooms, and is lively, but not loud. The downstairs dining room is huge and noisy, lined with mirrors so that everyone can see everyone else. Tennessee Williams' favorite table is in the back and offers a complete panorama of the room and its diners. The decor is a blend of Edwardian and Southern, and the service is pure Southern -- hospitable, fast, and competent.
We felt like the only tourists there, but were treated very well. Galatoire's is a popular haunt of locals, and the wait staff obviously knows almost all of the customers. It was a warm, comfortable, and delicious experience, and we'll come back for dinner on our next trip.
Reservations are not accepted except for parties of eight or more and even Galatoire family members have to wait in line for a table. There is a dress code at night (coat and tie for men), but business casual will work during lunch.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 22, 2004
209 Bourbon St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
+1 504 525 2021
I've visited in the heat of the summer (not recommended, unless you like to roam at night and sleep all day). I've visited during Mardi Gras, and had the honor of riding in a parade and tossing beads to a quarter of a million rowdy people lining Canal Street. Over the years, I've come to New Orleans to soothe a broken heart, to escape my troubles, to fall in love, to spend time with special friends, and just because. These days, I go during the quieter times of year, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and enjoy the chance to see the city as its natives do, and share in their traditions.
I've read all the usual tourist books, consulted websites (here first, of course), and tried to experience everything I could first-hand. However, I have recently found some wonderful books that have enriched and deepened my experiences, and would like to share them. All are available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, unless otherwise indicated.
My favorite guidebook to the city is Ultimate Guide to New Orleans by Randolph Delehanty. There are no photos, although the drawings and maps are very good. Delehanty supplies succinct, insightful information about hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, and fleshes out the book with concise and very readable historical information about the city and its neighborhoods. This book digs a little deeper than the usual tourist guide, and is packed with information, history, tips about local customs, and maps.
Kerri McCaffety has written several books about New Orleans, which are all excellent. My favorite is Obituary Cocktail, an incredible compilation of photographs by Ms. McCaffety with accompanying text. The book includes cocktail recipes from the best of the city's cocktail bars, beer joints, and lounges. It covers the gamut from the elegant Sazarac Bar in the Fairmont Hotel (home of the Ramos Gin Fizz and Sazarac Cocktail), to the pubs in the Irish Channel neighborhood. The photographs are beautiful, and the accompanying text is inspiring. Winner of many awards and honors, I highly recommend this book for any lover of the city.
Ms. McCaffety has also written about and photographed the French Quarter's hidden beauty. The Majesty of the French Quarter is a beautiful and fascinating look behind the walls that hide the magnificent gardens and interiors of the homes in the French Quarter. Ms. McCaffety is a gifted photographer and writer, and her glimpse into this hidden world is magical.
For the lover of local history, nothing can beat Laura Locoul Gore's Memories of the Old Plantation Home, available from the Laura Plantation website. The author was born Laura Locoul in 1861 and the plantation was renamed for her by her father when she was 13 years old. The book is a history of her family, privately written in the 1930's for the benefit of her children. Mrs. Gore died in 1963, at the age of 101, and her memoirs were only recently rediscovered. Her history of the plantation and her family is wonderfully written and filled with photographs, and brings Laura Plantation to life. I highly recommend reading it before visiting the plantation. Unlike most of the River Road plantations, Laura Plantation was French Creole, not Anglo. The women of the family ran the plantation for over 100 years, as was the custom in French Creole society. The family also had several town homes in New Orleans, which can be visited. Information on Le Monde Creole tour is available on the website.
I have dozens of New Orleans and Louisiana cookbooks, and will probably continue to acquire them each time I visit. There are three River Road cookbooks, published by the Baton Rouge Junior League. All are widely available around town, and online. Many of the local restaurants publish cookbooks, my favorite so far being the Palace Cafe. A search on Amazon or B&N will yield many choices.
The best bookstore in town for local history (and a heavy dose of Anne Rice memorabilia and autographed books) is the Garden District Book Store, in The Rink shopping center at Prytania and Washington Avenue. This is a great starting point for a Garden District walking tour, and is just a couple of blocks from Commander's Palace.
New Orleans is a treasure trove for book lovers, and a good library of books on the city eases the pain of not being there. The more you learn about the city, the more you appreciate its diversity and beauty. Read, visit, eat, drink, and talk to the locals. I still haven't given up the dream of living there, even after 34 years, and you'll see why if you add these books to your collection.
London, United Kingdom