Let’s get this part out of the way first: Natchitoches is pronounced, “Nack-a-tish.” Now read the title of today’s installment correctly: “Natchitoches is not New Orleans.” Now you’ve got it right.
Natchitoches, Louisiana is nice but it isn’t New Orleans. The two cities do have some similarities.
Firstly, they are old cities. Did you know that Nathitoches is the oldest city in Louisiana? It was founded in 1714. New Orleans was founded four years later, in 1718.
Secondly, both cities have a riverfront. In Natchitoches’ case, it’s a defunct riverfront. What used to be the Red River changed course so what passed in front of Natchitoches became the Cane River, then that changed course and what was the part of the Cane River that served as the port of Natchitoches became Cane River Lake. New Orleans’ riverfront is along part of the Mississippi River, which you may have heard of. The history is just as complicated in both cities.
Thirdly, both cities are Creole. They are both proud of their French heritage and it is obvious wherever you happen to wander.
Fourthly, Natchitoches has some very pretty and walkable streets.
What are the differences? Well, I’ve spent six years in New Orleans and never run out of things I would like to see. Nor have I ever run out of things I would like to eat.
What else? Natchitoches is a city of 18 and a half thousand people. New Orleans is a city of about 380,000 people. Neither is a large city compared to Bangkok but, everywhere you go in the world, if you say you’ve been to New Orleans, people will know where you are talking about. If you say you’ve been to Natchitoches, they’ll ask you how to spell it. Good luck. Then, they’ll ask you where it is.
Natchitoches and New Orleans are both cities dominated by their respective tourism industries. In fact, I think bed and breakfasts are the biggest industry in Natchitoches. You won’t find many hotels in the downtown historic district. You can’t throw a dead cat without it landing in the front yard of B&B in downtown Natchitoches.
There are some interesting shops in New Orleans. I found the best interesting shop in Natchitoches.
The oldest general store in Louisiana is Kaffie-Frederick, Inc. I wouldn’t say it’s worth a drive to Natchitoches from New Orleans (four and a half hours) but if you’re already in the area, it’s worth a drive. YMMV.
There are two very pretty and interesting streets in Natchitoches: Front Street and Second Street. Front Street is the more pretty and interesting of the two. It has the water views. There are, oh, I don’t know, two hundred, or so, interesting and pretty streets in New Orleans. I haven’t counted. That’s my lowest possible estimate. I find them all fascinating. YMMV. I’m not going to list them here.
The average length of a visitor’s stay in Natchitoches is 1-2 nights. That’s about right to get the lay of the land and see what’s to see, including the local branches of Walmart and Walgreens, which our innkeeper was quick to point out to us for reasons mysterious to me. I don’t know what the average length of stay is in New Orleans but I know what the average length is at La Belle Esplanade, our inn here on Esplanade Avenue. Averaging it out over the course of a year, our guests stay between 4-5 nights, some seasons longer than others. 4-5 nights is the right amount of time to get a good taste of New Orleans.
Howzabout a little brass band footage from a Friday night on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans?
Spend whatever amount of time you can spare to visit New Orleans. We’re not going to judge you if you only stay two or three nights at our inn but I’m going to tell you right now that your reservation is too short. The most valuable commodity we have in life is time. Spend it wisely. By vacation’s end, you’ll agree. Nobody ever says their time in New Orleans was too long. There is always something new to see, to do, and to experience in this magical city we call home.
Scratch the surface, peel one layer off this sweet onion, take one turn of the kaleidoscope—-you’ll be back. You’ll be back. Once you’ve been bitten by the New Orleans bug, it will call you back. You never forget your first love, or even your third if that love is real.
Why don’t you come to New Orleans? Good memories are made here, especially on Esplanade Avenue. Natchitoches is not New Orleans, and New Orleans is not Natchitoches. There is nowhere else on God’s green earth like New Orleans, Louisiana. Ask anyone. They’ll tell you the truth the same way that I’m telling it to you straight.
When you finally decide to come to New Orleans, where ya gonna stay?
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning is a curated breakfast salon.
July 21, 2016: After two nights in Natchitoches, happy to be home, where our heart is.