The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré, is the oldest and most iconic neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. Famous for its historic architecture, intricate wrought iron balconies, and rich culture, the French Quarter offers classic New Orleans cuisine, Bourbon Street nightlife, antique shops, art galleries, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
When New Orleans (La Nouvelle-Orléans in French) was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the city was originally centered on the French Quarter, or the Vieux Carré (“Old Square” in French) as it was known then. While the area is still referred to as the Vieux Carré by some, it is more commonly known as the French Quarter today, or simply “The Quarter.” The district as a whole is a National Historic Landmark, and contains numerous individual historic buildings. It was affected relatively lightly by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as compared to other areas of the city and the greater region.
The French Quarter or “Vieux Carre” (“old square” in French) stretches along the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue (13 blocks long) and back from the Mississippi to Rampart Street (6 blocks wide).
“The Quarter” is compact. One can spend an enjoyable vacation here without leaving it for several days. If the French Quarter is your headquarters, consider leaving your car behind and not bothering to rent one if your health permits a few blocks walk. Parking is difficult, expensive, or both. Occasional trips to other parts of town can be made by streetcar or cab.
The “Upper Quarter” (between Canal Street and Jackson Square) is the area most patronized by visitors, but the “Lower Quarter” (between Jackson Square and Esplanade Avenue) also has shops and restaurants sprinkled amongst the residences.
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