taste is king

Authentic New Orleans

Taste is king when it comes to appreciating authentic New Orleans.

taste is king
South Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.

You don’t know this but there are about 30 acres upriver from the convention center that have been empty for Heaven knows how long.  The Convention Center Authority, or whatever they are called, have invited bids to develop this land into an “entertainment district.”  This will help New Orleans attract more convention business.

I’m just taking this information from the newspaper.

The Ernest Morial New Orleans Convention Center Authority, or whatever they are called, entertained the last two bids to be the developer of choice yesterday and after the proposals were made, comments and observations from the public were entertained.  There were nine of them.  One of them said this:

“Locals seek authenticity in their homes, and increasingly visitors seek that same authenticity.  They want to be in places where locals are because that’s where the soul is, that’s where the best food, music and culture is found. ”

-This is a quote from today’s New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune.

I don’t know what this guy means by “authenticity.”  I don’t think he is in the tourism industry.

I don’t think he knows that Disneyworld has whole parts of it dedicated to recreating the New Orleans experience.

People who don’t live in New Orleans think we live off of gumbo and fried shrimp po’ boys, and, they think we’re all musicians.

I don’t know if I qualify as a local.  At least once a week I have to remind someone that I am not originally from New Orleans.  They always say, every time, “Oh, yeah.  I forgot.”  It’s not I don’t fit in New Orleans.  I am pointing out, in the interest of journalistic integrity, that I may be an unreliable narrator when it comes commenting on what locals want.  For what tourists want, I know.  They want gumbo and jambalaya and jazz music and fried shrimp po’ boys.

I am in the tourist trade.  What I sell is authentic New Orleans.  The market for Disneyland New Orleans dwarfs the market for people who visit New Orleans to visit like they belong here.  After all, most people who visit New Orleans come because of the idea they have of New Orleans.  If it is their second time, they come because they fell in love with the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street.  Those second or third time people, they are more prone to immerse themselves in authentic New Orleans, but they are not particularly interested in all of New Orleans.

Hollygrove is authentic New Orleans.  No tourist travels a thousand miles to visit Hollygrove.  There is nothing for them to do there.  Leonidas is authentic New Orleans.  No tourist travels a thousand miles to visit Leonidas, though it is a very interesting neighborhood.  How many tourists visit New Orleans East?  Now, some might to visit the Faubourg Brewery, that’ll take them about an hour, but before that opened, the only people from out of town in the East were people lured by low motel rates, or scientists at Michoud.

Anything built by a big developer in a short period of time is not going to be authentic, per se, because it will be new.  It will appeal to people who are in the city for a convention.  Gumbo, jambalaya, jazz, fried shrimp, Gulf oysters, wrought iron balconies—-these are the reasons most people come to New Orleans.

I don’t blame anyone who has never lived in New Orleans for not knowing what authentic New Orleans is like.  When we first opened La Belle Esplanade, people told us it would never work, we are too far from the French Quarter.  Well, I am happy to say that La Belle Esplanade has been ranked int he top 20 B&B hotels in the world more than once, so it is working out okay, but, not a day goes by when the phone rings and the first question is, “How far are you from the French Quarter.”  We are not far at all, but, we are far enough that is a deal breaker for a lot of people visiting this wonderful city we call home.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I’m just daydreaming.

Let your imagination take wing in a New Orleans state of mind.
Let your imagination take wing in a New Orleans state of mind.

What do locals look for when they are looking for a home?  I think they are looking for good schools, clean streets, low crime, an efficient and responsive government, low taxes, predictable bills from the Sewerage and Water Board.  There are other things, too.  None of these things interest a casual visitor.  Most people already have these things at home.  Most people from elsewhere are horrified to learn what it is like to actually live here.  I know I am, and I live here.  As I have said, above, I am not a native New Orleanian, only a transplant.

I’m not saying anything bad about New Orleans.  I love it here.  Dysfunction is part of the city’s authenticity.  If the city worked like other cities, it wouldn’t be New Orleans.  I say this as someone from the inside looking out.  These are some of the things that make New Orleans, well, New Orleans.  New Orleanians don’t refer to their city as a banana republic for no reason.  There is a reason New Orleans is called the northernmost Caribbean city.

Few people who visit Jamaica venture much outside the resorts.

La Belle Esplanade is a small boutique hotel located in a colorful old mansion on a historic street.  We are one walkable mile from the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street.  We live on a beautiful street in a very interesting neighborhood full of small family-run museums, nationally famous restaurants, and plenty of neighborhood amenities.  At the other end of our street is City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Canal Streetcar Line.  This is authentic New Orleans.

When you are ready to visit New Orleans like you belong here, without the hassle of voting or paying property taxes, you know where you should stay.  La Belle Esplanade will be here for you.  You are on the right website.

Our favorite part of every day is sitting over breakfast and hearing about everyone’s New Orleans adventures, and, we enjoy helping the people who stay with us plan their next day’s adventure’s, too.  We live in a city that is full of pleasant surprises.  Think outside the box and get off the typical tourist radar.

Nobody ever says their visit to New Orleans is too long.  It is always too short because the longer you are here, the more you’ll discover to explore.

LaBelleEsplanade.com.  That’s all you need to know if you want to learn more about what it’s like to live in authentic New Orleans.  It is better than I have described here.  It is much, much better.  You’ll see.  I love where we live.  You will, too.