If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know the markets are the center of the community. With such a rich and varied history, a trip to New Orleans is on the bucket list for many.
But do you know the best places to experience all that the French Quarter and surrounding areas have to offer?
We’re looking at the area’s history, the market’s origin, and its role in local society. In addition, we’ll discuss other markets around town, plus the best places to park your RV.
Are you ready to stroll the riverside and take in the languid beauty of this historical destination?
What Is the French Market in New Orleans?
The French Market is a popular shopping area in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Originally a Native American trading post predating European colonization, the market is the oldest in the United States.
In 1791 French and Spanish colonists opened the market to ships and traders from all over the world. Eventually, the market became a cultural and commercial hub for New Orleans,
In time, immigrants from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean opened their own shops in the market. Italian butchers, African coffee, and Choctaw spices were among the people and products offered.
The market’s permanent home was designed by Joseph Abelard, one of America’s first African-American Architects. He developed a series of commercial buildings that span six blocks.
Its bizarre structure allowed the French Market to grow and add more commercial products. These include fresh produce and commodities that aren’t found anywhere else.
The Farmers Market Pavilion is one of the most popular attractions at the French Market. Visitors from near and far come here to load up on local produce and specialty foods with international flavors.
Open daily, the pavilion includes full-service cafes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, there are unique drinks and snacks available.
On Wednesdays and Sundays, the market hosts specialty fresh food markets. The finest vendors in the region offer everything from seasonal vegetables to homegrown spices.
It also holds an annual festival for the spring harvest of the Creole tomato. This festival is free and open to the public and features freshly picked tomatoes and tomato-based dishes unique to New Orleans.
Where Is the New Orleans French Market?
You’ll find the French Market in the French Quarter on a bend of the Mississippi River across from Algier’s Point. This street dead ends at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, while Jackson Square is a stone’s throw in the other direction.
The French Quarter is also known as the Vieux Carré, the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. Vieux Carré translates to old square in English, and the city developed around this central square.
With buildings built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the district is a National Historic Landmark. The French Quarter is a prime tourist destination in the city, attracting residents as well.
During the 19th century, New Orleans’ economy centered on selling cash crops like sugar and tobacco. These businesses turned New Orleans into the third-largest metropolis in the country. In addition, the city’s port was the nation’s second-largest after New York City.
In the early 20th century, cheap rent and the air of decay attracted a bohemian artistic community to the Quarter. Many of the new inhabitants were active in early preservation efforts.
During World War II, thousands of service members and war workers moved to New Orleans and the region’s military bases and shipyards. The nightlife and vice filled Bourbon Street and brought an element of exotic, risqué, and often wild entertainment. Because of this, Bourbon Street became the city’s most famous strip.
Are There Other Great Markets in New Orleans?
Indeed, New Orleans is famous for its open-air markets. Ranging from flea markets to art and street fairs, they’re the things that make the city a great place to explore.
St. Roch Market
St. Roch Market is a food hall located at 2381 St. Claude Ave., just outside the French Quarter. The market features a mix of local food and beverages.
This market is considered a destination for foodies to explore a variety of new cuisines. There are 11 exciting dining options, all centered around an award-winning craft cocktail bar.
With a curated mix of the best local chefs and bartenders, it’s like an art gallery for food. The culinary artists assembled tell their stories through their food and drink creations.
When first built in 2015, this was the only market like it. Since then, food halls have popped up across the city, but St. Roch Market has remained a favorite destination.
Frenchman Art Market
Another market in New Orleans worth a visit is the Frenchman Art Market. This market features authentic art, dazzling jewelry, and creative crafts produced by local and regional artists. You can find this market in the Marigny neighborhood at 619 Frenchman Street.
The Zele NOLA is a popular flea and art market worth checking out. It’s home to over 100 local artisans that offer authentic, locally designed crafts, jewelry, and art. You can find this market in the Garden District at 2841 Magazine St.
When you visit these markets, set a pace that allows you to enjoy it all and maximize every opportunity to stop and smell the roses.
Best Restaurants Near the New Orleans Markets
The French Quarter is well known for its great food. Some of the most famous restaurants can be found in the quarter or close by.
This section will examine three of the more famous restaurants and explore their specialties.
Cafe du Monde
Café du Monde translates to Café of the World or the People’s Café. It’s on Decatur Street in the French Quarter and is a landmark New Orleans tourist destination.
The cafe is known for its café au lait and beignets, square pieces of dough with no holes. These light and fluffy doughnut cousins are often served with fruit, jam, maple syrup, or savory ingredients. At Café du Monde, the beignets are topped with a thick coating of powdered sugar and sold three to an order.
The cafe is committed to keeping things the way they’ve always been. So the menu includes only dark-roasted coffee with chicory, beignets, white and chocolate milk, hot chocolate, and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
The beignets remain the only food item on the menu at the French Market location, and the recipes have gone relatively unchanged.
Café du Monde has nine coffee stand locations in the greater New Orleans area. Besides the French Market location, you can find cafes in malls around the metropolitan area and the airport.
The Market Cafe
Located in the heart of the French Market, the family-owned and operated Market Cafe provides a unique dining experience. You can enjoy New Orleans Cajun and Creole cuisine while listening to a five-piece New Orleans jazz combo.
Occupying the second oldest building in the French Market, it formerly housed the Old Vegetable Market and Fish Market. The structure dates back to 1823 and retains the original cypress ceiling and 19th-century columns.
From the outdoor dining area, you can enjoy the views of the French Quarter at Decatur and North Peters Streets. Don’t forget to try the famous Market Mary Bloody Mary and the baked Mufaletta.
And don’t forget, the bar is always open, and the food is perfect all year round. So don’t miss this traditional New Orleans restaurant.
Elysian Seafood is a southern oyster bar revival. Husband and wife chefs Brandon and Jennifer Blackwell started the restaurant in 2015. Inspired by the flavors of New Orleans, they’re proud to offer a locally sourced menu.
The upscale casual space has a knowledgeable staff to help you select the perfect meal. In fact, Elysian is famous for its char-broiled oysters and Louisiana Crab Cake.
The crab cake is a meal unto itself. The dish is Elysian’s best-seller and arrives on a generous portion of roasted potatoes, onions, and poblano peppers. The recipe changes with the seasons and comes with a thick corn cream sauce.
Elysian is passionate about creating elegant seafood dishes filled with the spirit of New Orleans. Their Gulf Coast seafood is as good as you could want in a Louisiana meal.
Best Camping Near the New Orleans French Market
We’ve got you covered if you plan to camp or stay in your RV for your trip to New Orleans. While there are many RV parks and campgrounds in the New Orleans area, there are only a couple within two miles of the Quarter.
Let’s take a look at the closest ones to maximize your trip.
French Quarter RV Resort
Considering it’s so close to the city, safety is a concern. Recent guests have noted that the walls have spikes on them to deter theft. The police station is also nearby.
That said, the camp is super clean, and the spots are all spacious. With a nightly rate of $120 to $150, the price is high, but the location is hard to beat.
The park has full hookups and includes cable TV, city water, and sewer. The clubhouse provides recreation, fitness, laundry rooms, and four private baths with showers. A French Quarter-style courtyard also surrounds a pool and hot tub. And the gazebo has bar facilities with an ice machine.
The French Quarter RV Resort is minutes from bourbon street and many other attractions. So it’s a short trip to walk, ride a bike, or take a streetcar, bus, or cab to all the things that make New Orleans famous.
Bayou Segnette State Park
If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, Bayou Segnette State Park may be for you.
The park offers both tent, RV camping, and day use for reasonable fees. Fees start at $18 for tents and up to $34 for RVs. In addition, the state of Louisiana accepts America the Beautiful pass, which will get you a 50% discount.
Recent reviews state that the park could use some TLC, but the location is the best you’ll find on a budget.
The park is a thirty-minute drive across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. They provide recreational opportunities for all ages, including boating, fishing, canoeing, and hiking.
Is a Road Trip to New Orleans’ French Market Worth It?
If you like good food, historical locales, music, and art, a trip to the French Market and greater NOLA should be a bucket list trip. However, planning your trip around the weather is a great idea.
Early spring and late fall are the best times to visit New Orleans. Specifically, March through April and October through November. These months offer the best sightseeing weather and decent crowd sizes.
Wherever you go, bring your appetite and love of music to make the most of your visit!
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