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French Quarter Tours

New Orleans

To outsiders, the French Quarter may appear to be little more than a gathering place dedicated to beads and beers during Mardi Gras. But the real secrets of the Vieux Carré (its original name) lie within the pastel-colored buildings, hidden gardens, and luxe balconies of the neighborhood. Uncover the area’s voodoo history, French and Spanish influences, Antebellum architecture, and more on a French Quarter walking tour. Read more about the French Quarter at the bottom of the page!

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About the French Quarter

When planning a trip to the Big Easy, the French Quarter is an obvious choice to begin your exploration, and a walking tour is a great way to get acquainted with the neighborhood. As the historic center of one of the most legendary cities in the country, the French Quarter is full of stories (both fact and folklore), intrigue, and multicultural history. 

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the French Quarter was established by

View of a street in the French Quarter

the French Quarter, New Orleans

the French in 1718. For some time, the French Quarter was all that existed of New Orleans, but suburbs and other sections of the city quickly sprang up in the late 1700s and early 1800s as plantation owners vied to take advantage of the expanding real estate market.

Today, the French Quarter comprises an area of about 78 square blocks on the Mississippi River, packed with unique streets, cultural attractions, local eateries, and architecture reminiscent of the city’s history under both French and Spanish rule.

Although founded by the French in the early 1700s, the French Quarter’s architecture is predominantly Spanish thanks to a war debt that forced France to give up control of Louisiana to Spain in the late 1700s. After several fires broke out and destroyed most of the French-constructed buildings, few traces of French architecture remained. Today, the tropical colors, flat roofs, stucco, and ornate ironwork are some of the remaining touches of Spanish influence in the neighborhood (not to mention foodie favorites like tapas and paella!).

As for France’s role in shaping the neighborhood, remember this: New Orleans was French first. French culture is tangible in the Crescent City, from Catholic holidays like Mardi Gras and streets named after royalty to the popular French Market and restaurants like Galatoire’s and Antoine’s.

You’re sure to notice other touches from a wide variety of cultures like Creole, Irish, Cajun, and more as you wander the neighborhood on a French Quarter walking tour.

Famous Streets of the French Quarter

The hub of the Big Easy is full of interesting streets that you can explore for hours on end. Some lead visitors to notable cemeteries or places of voodoo practice, while others host the biggest festivals of the year. No matter what you’re hoping to see, chances are there’s a French Quarter walking tour for you that showcases the best of NOLA’s most famous neighborhood.

View of Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Bourbon Street: If you came to New Orleans to party, Bourbon Street is the place to be. The most visited location in the city, Bourbon Street boasts some of the oldest bars in the Big Easy, lively nightlife spots, and a whole lot of neon. The 13-block strip of restaurants, LGBTQ entertainment hubs, and tourist shops runs right through the heart of New Orleans, from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue, before trickling into the Marigny neighborhood.

You might think that this iconic street was named for bourbon, the alcohol, but it was actually named for a royal family in France. Many French touches remain today, like popular French/Creole restaurants, French-inspired street names, and festivals like the famed Mardi Gras.

Although the street is somewhat quiet by day, when the sun goes down, the partygoers hit Bourbon Street and dance the night away. Open container laws and the city’s best entertainment spots make Bourbon Street the place to be year-round.

You can easily walk Bourbon Street on your own, but a French Quarter tour will give you a whole new perspective on this legendary street (and you’ll probably find exciting attractions you never would’ve noticed on your own). 

Decatur Street: Located on the edge of the French Quarter, where the streets blend into the Marigny neighborhood’s territory, Decatur Street is a funky and fun stretch of the French Quarter that demands to be explored. The street runs parallel to the Mississippi and once felt like any major Port city. Today, it’s got more of a bohemian vibe left over from the ‘80s, with a little jazz and funk sprinkled in. 

Decatur Street is known for its candy stores on every corner, stores that sell po-boys and Mardi Gras masks, several funky bars and eateries, and plenty of shopping! You can find everything from national chains to vintage stores and artist co-ops. Don’t forget to make a stop at the old U.S. Mint, some delightfully tacky souvenir stores, and a few wonderful coffee spots during your visit.

Royal Street: A trip down Royal Street is like stepping back in time to the old-

View of Royal Street in New Orleans

Royal Street, New Orleans

fashioned decadence of the 19th century. Crystal chandeliers and absinthe glasses fill the opulent stores, locals dine in tucked-away courtyards, and street musicians provide entertainment day and night. Stroll past banks and grocery stores, beautiful shop windows, and luxurious private homes. Pop into the art galleries and antique shops — you never know what treasures await!

Royal Street is just a block from Bourbon Street, stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade, passing through the neighborhoods of Marigny and Bywater. With plenty of shopping and dining options, you could spend the whole day on Royal Street admiring the gorgeous wrought-iron balconies and indulging in beignets. A French Quarter walking tour will help you hit all the highlights.

Must-See Landmarks of the French Quarter

No New Orleans French Quarter walking tour would be complete without visiting some of the city’s top attractions and landmarks. Beyond the area’s must-see streets, these spots are worth the visit during your trip to the Crescent City.

Riverfront Park: Also known as Woldenberg Park, this beautiful green space on the French Quarter riverfront is a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets. Pack a picnic and watch the ships in the river, go for a peaceful jog, or make your way to the park for the annual French Quarter Festival.

Jackson Square in New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square: One of NOLA’s most recognizable landmarks, this 2.5-acre National Historic Landmark can be found at the center of the French Quarter, on Decatur Street in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. The square is named for the statue of Andrew Jackson that sits in the center. This landmark is great for people-watching, taking a break from your French Quarter stroll, or viewing the open-air artist colony located in the square.

St. Louis Cathedral: The tall, white facade of this French Quarter cathedral is recognizable to everyone who walks past it. It’s even been featured in movies and TV shows as an architectural icon. It’s also known for being the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic cathedral in the country, a nod to the French heritage of the city. Its white walls, small spires, and beautiful accompanying plaza make it a must-see landmark.

Madame LaLaurie’s Mansion: If you’re planning on taking a French Quarter ghost tour,

LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans

LaLaurie Mansion

you’ll surely stop at this infamous mansion located on Royal Street. The three-story building appears innocuous enough from the outside, but the mansion bears the tales of slave torture at the hands of owner Delphine LaLaurie, who is said to have murdered dozens of slaves during the 1800s. Beautifully restored, the mansion is a symbol of the darker side of the Big Easy.

There are so many attractions to see and things to do in New Orleans’ famous French Quarter! If you’re not sure where to start, book a walking tour to get an insider look at this beautiful neighborhood.