New Orleans Champ or New Orleans Chump?

I made a video a few months ago and, as I said then, off the cuff, “Bourbon Street in New Orleans is for beginners.  Esplanade Avenue?  Well, Esplanade Avenue is for winners.”  I meant it when I said it.  I said what I meant.  I still mean it.  There is more to New Orleans than the French Quarter.

 

New Orleans Champ or New Orleans Chump?

The French Quarter is beautiful, don’t get me wrong.  The French Quarter is the spirit of New Orleans but the French Quarter isn’t New Orleans’ soul.  There’s a whole big city out here besides the French Quarter.  The problem is that most people who rely on the guidebooks and travel websites believe that the French Quarter is the be all and end all of their New Orleans experience.

For those people it may be.  When you stay in the French Quarter, you get stuck there like a fly on sticky paper.  The Quarter exerts a gravitational force.  People who live in New Orleans outside the French Quarter, they don’t go to the Quarter much except in August, when there aren’t many tourists in the city.

The same goes for Frenchmen Street.  If you read the guidebooks, “all the locals go to Frenchmen Street to listen to music.”  I live here.  We do occasionally visit Frenchmen Street, more often in August or when friends from out of town are visiting, but most of the people you’ll find on Frenchmen Street are people who have read all the best guidebooks.

 

Reset your New Orleans relationship
Heart painted over a Katrina sign

New Orleans Champ or New Orleans Chump?

We have some long-time New Orleans aficionados staying with us this weekend.  They come for Jazz Fest every year and they know the city well.  We were sitting in the back garden this afternoon, enjoying the usual balmy New Orleans weather and Diane read us the latest insider’s travel guide to New Orleans, courtesy of Vogue Magazine.  Yeah, if you want to discover the insider’s view of New Orleans, go pick up the latest copy of Vogue.

We all had a good laugh.

Look, I’m not here to judge what you do on your vacation.  New Orleans is a kaleidoscope of a city.  There is something here for everyone.  If you are in love with Bourbon Street, more power to you.  Go with what you know.  There is a whole interesting and vibrant city outside the French Quarter, though.  If you think you’ll be disappointed to learn that every street in New Orleans isn’t like Bourbon Street, stay in the French Quarter.  It’s like nowhere else in America.

 

Enjoy New Jersey---Enjoy New Orleans
La Belle Esplanade is the orange house in the middle

 

Of course, the rest of New Orleans is like nowhere else in America.  All of New Orleans is like nowhere else in the world.  Ours really is a magical city.

There is more to New Orleans than the French Quarter.  I live in New Orleans.  I was in the French Quarter three weeks ago.  I got a haircut and then I left the Quarter.  I won’t be going this weekend or next because Jazz Fest is going on.  If you want to meet people from out of town these next two weekends, go to the Quarter.  You can meet all the other Jazz Fest folks.  Two weeks from today, I’ll be in the Quarter to get another haircut at Mr. Jack’s.  I could get my hair cut elsewhere, but I like Mr. Jack.

I have nothing against Jazz Fest.  Jazz Fest is an integral part of our New Orleans culture.  The thing is, it’s only two weekends a year.  The rest of the year isn’t about Jazz Fest.  The rest of the year includes music, we’re in New Orleans, of course, but Jazz Fest and all it’s hubbub and hype recede into the background until the following April.  In the meantime, people in New Orleans have stuff to do.  Guess what?  We don’t do what the guidebooks and magazine articles tell you you have to do.

We do other things and we love it here.  Ask any New Orleanian if they love their city.  The answer, ever time, will be: YES!

Everyone in New Orleans is friendly.  In the tourist zones, they’re friendly because they want to make a buck off you.  In the rest of New Orleans, people are friendly because they are proud of their city and they like to share it with people who are interested.  If you are from out-of-town and you are outside the French Quarter, you must be interested in New Orleans.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be outside the French Quarter.  Welcome.  It’s our pleasure to meet you.

New Orleans outside the French Quarter is a different world altogether.  It’s nice out here.

There are no squares in New Orleans
Front of La Belle Esplanade

 

If you want to get a curated visit to New Orleans, with recommendations tailored to your tastes, there’s really only one option.  Innkeeping is an old and honored trade in New Orleans.  Small inns dot the cityscape.  Small inns are in every neighborhood, and by small inns I’m not talking about AirBnB.  There are about 6000 AirBnB listings in New Orleans. About 75% of those are whole houses or whole aparements where the owner, or “host,” if you will, is remote and off-site.  At a place that has a city-issued B&B license in New Orleans, these innkeepers serve as goodwill ambassadors to the city they call home.  La Belle Esplanade is one of these places, you’re on our website, but there are many, many others, about 150 of them.  Think of them as more personalized versions of boutique hotels.  I do.

New Orleans Champ or New Orleans Chump?

Do your homework.  Check out a New Orleans B&B’s website first.  You’re on one right now.  Does the inn you’re investigating look like a good fit for you?  Some small New Orleans inns don’t offer breakfast or housekeeping.  You may as well stay in an AirBnB squat.  Others offer a full set of amenities in a personal suite with full service.  I’ve got one place in mind that stands apart from the crowd, but there are others.

To discover the real New Orleans and to get personalized recommendations that suit your New Orleans desires, consider a small professionally run New Orleans inn.  These are places driven by the personality of the innkeepers, real insiders who live here and make their living introducing visitors to unexpected surprises, and these are places that both survive and thrive by giving their guests a taste of New Orleans outside the French Quarter and beyond what the guidebooks and travel sites recommend.  Get a taste of the real New Orleans, the part of New Orleans that the people who live here love.  There’s a whole other New Orleans outside what you’ve been told to expect.  It’s bigger.  It’s better.  It’s more robust and it’s full of more flavor.

Come see the other side of New Orleans.  You can be a New Orleans champ or you can be a New Orleans chump.  You can be a beginner or you can be a winner.  Don’t settle for a bland chicken dinner.  Whatever you choose, you’ll have a good time in New Orleans.  Choose to have a better time in New Orleans outside the tourist bubble.

À votre santé,

La Belle Esplanade

where every morning begins with a curated breakfast salon.

Thursday, April 27, 2017:  It’s always a good day in New Orleans.  Always.  Come see for yourself.