Essential French Quarter

Tour Creator

Jennifer is a history enthusiast born and raised in the New Orleans area. After college, she became a freelance writer to fund her wanderlust. Fascinated by the ancient world, she…Read More Bio »

New Orleans

GPS-directed

Remote Tour Included

1hr/2+hrs(Extended itinerary)

1km/2.5km(Extended itinerary)

Our tour of New Orleans’ French Quarter is a historic walk through the city. The French Quarter is the location of the first French settlement near the port of New Orleans that still exists today. Our tour will highlight landmarks from the French and Spanish colonial period as well as the period of affluence before the Civil War. It will also describe the differences in architecture from each era from the French settlement to the 19th century.

Avoid the Crowds

Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group

Expert-created Tour

Written by a New Orleans writer with an Master of Arts in History

GPS Directions

Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour

Highlights include:

Jackson Square, Napoleon House, and Preservation Hall

Remote Tour Included

As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home

Itineraries

Essential French Quarter – Extended

Essential French Quarter – Standard

  1. Café du Monde - A historic coffee shop in the French Quarter that serves coffee and beignets, a New Orleans staple breakfast. Opened during the Civil War, the shop started serving chicory root in their coffee during the supply shortage. Locals still enjoy coffee with chicory, and it gives New Orleans coffee its unique flavor.
  2. Jackson Square - The old town square of the original French settlement of New Orleans. The site was a public square, where the church and government building were located. It underwent a much-needed facelift in the 19th century, and it is a gathering center for local artists, musicians, and fortune-tellers.
  3. Cabildo/Presbytère - The Cabildo and the Presbytère are matching buildings that flank the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cabildo served as the government building, and the Presbytère was built as a monastery for the Capuchin monks who served at the Church.
  4. St. Louis Cathedral - This cathedral lies on the site of the original church from the first settlement. It was named after St. Louis IX of France – the country’s only sainted monarch. It is the oldest cathedral in the United States, but three different churches have stood on the same site. It was also the center of a bombing attack at the beginning of the 20th century.
  5. Pontalba Buildings/1850 House - The Pontalba Buildings are the red brick, four-story buildings that flank Jackson Square. Built by the Baroness de Pontalba – one of the most famous New Orleans women of the 19th century. The buildings were most likely the first rentable apartment buildings in the United States. Shops and businesses reside on the bottom floor today, while the remaining units are still apartments. One of the bottom floor residents is the 1850 House, a living museum dedicated to the Creole elite lifestyle before the Civil War.
  6. Pirate Alley - A one-block street that connects Jackson Square to the rest of the French Quarter. Local legend states it was a favorite hangout in the early days of the colony. It is a famous landmark of New Orleans, featured in many photographs and paintings.
  7. Le Petit Theater - The home of the community theater troupe, Le Petit Theater du Vieux Carré. Founded in 1916, the playhouse has resided in its current location since 1922. The Spanish colonial building is supposedly haunted, and it has been the site of many paranormal studies.
  8. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum - The old apothecary shop of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. Louisiana was the first state to establish a pharmacy licensing standard. Dufilho was the first operating apothecary in the city to pass the test, making his shop the first pharmacy in the United States.
  9. Napoleon House - The former residence of New Orleans Mayor Nicholas Girod. He inherited the property from his brother. Girod was involved in “The Plot” to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from his exile, and he built the house as a gift to Napoleon when the dictator arrived in New Orleans. The plot never succeeded, but the house adopted his name.
  10. Latrobe’s on Royal - The former location of the Louisiana State Bank, designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The British-born architect redesigned the waterworks system in New Orleans to stop the spread of yellow fever at the beginning of the 19th century. He is known as the “father of American architecture,” and several of his projects – in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. - are still standing today.
  11. Laura’s Candies - One of the oldest candy shops in the city of New Orleans. They still make pralines by hand. Pralines were a sweet treat brought over from France by the first settlers. They are one of the most famous items of New Orleans cuisine.
  12. The Jimani/The Upstairs Lounge - The Upstairs Lounge – the area above the bar on the bottom floor (the Jimani) – was the site of a horrible fire in 1973. An unknown assailant firebombed the staircase leading up to the cabaret bar, and the fire spread quickly. 32 people died in the fire; before the Pulse shootings in 2016, the Upstairs Lounge fire was the largest mass murder against the LGBT community in United States history.
  13. Old Absinthe House - an early 19th-century bar that is home to a legend. Supposedly, the pirate Jean Lafitte and General Andrew Jackson met here to plan the defense against the British invasion in what would be the Battle of New Orleans. Although there is no proof of the meeting, the bar remains committed to the legend; they changed their name to reflect the connection.
  14. Preservation Hall/Pat O’Briens - Preservation Hall is a former art gallery that is home to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In the later 20th century, New Orleans jazz was a dying art form. Preservation Hall was founded to protect the heritage of this music genre that started here in the city. Located right next door, Pat O’Brien’s is one of the most popular bars in the French Quarter. The home of the famous drink the Hurricane, it was opened by a former bootlegger who ran a speakeasy during Prohibition. It features dueling piano entertainment – the first of its kind in the world.
  15. Le Pretre Mansion/ “The Sultan’s Palace” - The setting for a chilling ghost story. A man supposedly related to Turkish royalty rented the space in the 1870s. One night, everyone in the house – the prince’s harem, his bodyguards, and the Turk himself – were brutally murdered. The residence is said to be haunted by his spirit. Although there is no proof of the murder, locals swear it happened.
  16. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop - A small French colonial cottage that is reportedly the site of pirate Jean Lafitte’s smuggling business. Using his brother’s blacksmith shop as a cover, Lafitte would sell his smuggled goods to local merchants. The bar that resides there now named itself after the legend.
  17. New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum - A small, two-room museum dedicated to the history of New Orleans voodoo. The religion developed by African slaves, voodoo mixes the traditional African religions with Roman Catholicism. The museum runs informational tours to remove the stigma from this misrepresented religion.
  18. Madame John's Legacy - Named after a character in a George Washington Cable story, Madame John’s Legacy is one of the few examples of French colonial architecture left in New Orleans. The original 1730s structure burned down in the fire of 1788, but the architect rebuilt it in the French colonial style. It has been featured in Hollywood films, such as the Oscar-winner Twelve Years a Slave.
  19. Gallier House/Lalaurie Mansion - This stop features two historic houses from the antebellum period that tell vastly different stories. Gallier House is the family home of local architect James Gallier, Jr. With his father, James Gallier, Sr., the Galliers were the most in-demand architects of antebellum New Orleans. They designed public structures and private homes. Gallier, Jr. designed his own home with the latest trends in Victorian design, such as indoor plumbing and a kitchen inside the house, for his growing family. A few feet away, on the corner of Royal Street and Governor Nicholls is infamous Madame Lalaurie Mansion – the site of a terrifying discovery in 1834.
  20. Old Ursulines Convent Museum/Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum - The Old Ursulines Convent is the original convent of the Ursuline nuns, who came to the new colony in 1727. Just like the other religious order in New Orleans, the Capuchins, the Ursulines provided religious guidance for the new colonists. The Ursulines educated and protected the young brides who arrived to marry the colonists, and they founded their own hospital. The nuns treated yellow fever patients of every race, and they nursed soldiers on both sides of a conflict. In 1825, the nuns sold some of their land, on which the owner built a private home. The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum is named after its two most famous residents –Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes. Keyes restored the house in the 20th century to reflect its 19th-century appearance, and she wrote some of her most famous novels there.
  21. Old U.S. Mint/New Orleans Jazz Museum - The only mint in the United States to print both Confederate and Union currency during the Civil War. It served as a military barracks and the site of a grisly execution that is still a sore subject for Southerners today. The building is now the home of the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which preserves the history of jazz music.
  22. French Market - Behind the Old U.S. Mint, there is an open-air marketplace that stretches for six blocks. The French Market was the original trading site for Native American tribes. After the French arrived, they still used the site for trade. It became a public space where the people of the city could buy and sell their products – anything from food to trinkets. The French Market remains open for business today, and it is one of the landmarks of New Orleans culture.
  1. Café du Monde - A historic coffee shop in the French Quarter that serves coffee and beignets, a New Orleans staple breakfast. Opened during the Civil War, the shop started serving chicory root in their coffee during the supply shortage. Locals still enjoy coffee with chicory, and it gives New Orleans coffee its unique flavor.
  2. Jackson Square - The old town square of the original French settlement of New Orleans. The site was a public square, where the church and government building were located. It underwent a much-needed facelift in the 19th century, and it is a gathering center for local artists, musicians, and fortune-tellers.
  3. Cabildo/Presbytère - The Cabildo and the Presbytère are matching buildings that flank the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cabildo served as the government building, and the Presbytère was built as a monastery for the Capuchin monks who served at the Church.
  4. St. Louis Cathedral - This cathedral lies on the site of the original church from the first settlement. It was named after St. Louis IX of France – the country’s only sainted monarch. It is the oldest cathedral in the United States, but three different churches have stood on the same site. It was also the center of a bombing attack at the beginning of the 20th century.
  5. Pontalba Buildings/1850 House - The Pontalba Buildings are the red brick, four-story buildings that flank Jackson Square. Built by the Baroness de Pontalba – one of the most famous New Orleans women of the 19th century. The buildings were most likely the first rentable apartment buildings in the United States. Shops and businesses reside on the bottom floor today, while the remaining units are still apartments. One of the bottom floor residents is the 1850 House, a living museum dedicated to the Creole elite lifestyle before the Civil War.
  6. Pirate Alley - A one-block street that connects Jackson Square to the rest of the French Quarter. Local legend states it was a favorite hangout in the early days of the colony. It is a famous landmark of New Orleans, featured in many photographs and paintings.
  7. Le Petit Theater - The home of the community theater troupe, Le Petit Theater du Vieux Carré. Founded in 1916, the playhouse has resided in its current location since 1922. The Spanish colonial building is supposedly haunted, and it has been the site of many paranormal studies.
  8. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum - The old apothecary shop of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. Louisiana was the first state to establish a pharmacy licensing standard. Dufilho was the first operating apothecary in the city to pass the test, making his shop the first pharmacy in the United States.
  9. Napoleon House - The former residence of New Orleans Mayor Nicholas Girod. He inherited the property from his brother. Girod was involved in “The Plot” to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from his exile, and he built the house as a gift to Napoleon when the dictator arrived in New Orleans. The plot never succeeded, but the house adopted his name.
  10. Latrobe’s on Royal - The former location of the Louisiana State Bank, designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The British-born architect redesigned the waterworks system in New Orleans to stop the spread of yellow fever at the beginning of the 19th century. He is known as the “father of American architecture,” and several of his projects – in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. - are still standing today.
  11. Preservation Hall/Pat O’Briens - Preservation Hall is a former art gallery that is home to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In the later 20th century, New Orleans jazz was a dying art form. Preservation Hall was founded to protect the heritage of this music genre that started here in the city. Located right next door, Pat O’Brien’s is one of the most popular bars in the French Quarter. The home of the famous drink the Hurricane, it was opened by a former bootlegger who ran a speakeasy during Prohibition. It features dueling piano entertainment – the first of its kind in the world.

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