In New Orleans, Bourbon Street is for beginners. Esplanade Avenue is for winners. The first time I visited New Orleans, I was like you, I stayed in a chain hotel in the heart of the city—-except I didn’t realize then that the areas around the foot of Canal Street aren’t the heart of the city. New Orleans has miles and miles of heart. Wherever you land in New Orleans, you will bloom where you are planted. I know. I live here now. You can be a New Orleans champ or a New Orleans chump. You’ll be happy either way. Either way, you’ll feel like a champion even if you’re a sucker. I know this because I talk to people who have stayed in the French Quarter. You can do better. The real New Orleans is calling you.
I don’t live in the French Quarter. I live in the authentic New Orleans. Look at me now:
When you stay in the French Quarter, you think New Orleans is nothing but a tourist trap. Wanna get drunk? There is more to New Orleans than that.
Tourist New Orleans is waiting to drain dollars out of your wallet. Contrary to popular belief, people who live in New Orleans don’t eat gumbo three meals a day and we don’t walk out front doors with a shrimp po’boy in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The only people who live in New Orleans that you’ll see on Bourbon Street are the people who are working. Everyone else is from out of town. Outside of tourist New Orleans we don’t get stumbling down drunk but we do still smile a lot. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is happy to give you directions.
I don’t live in the French Quarter but other people do. It takes a special kind of person to make a home in the French Quarter. The people who live there are surrounded by tourists all the time. They are constantly asked for directions—“Which way is Bourbon Street?”
NEW ORLEANS CHAMP OR NEW ORLEANS CHUMP?
It is only when a peacock unfurls it’s iridescent and opalescent feathers that it can be truly appreciated. New Orleans is like that. There is a whole, wide and wonderful city out here off the typical tourist radar. How do I know? I know because I live here.
I haven’t always lived in New Orleans. I moved here five years after Hurricane Katrina. It was a totally different city back then. All New Orleanians, now, we are part of a giant sociology experiment, trying to rebuild a great American city, keeping all the best parts in good working order. New Orleans is a city full of local champions. I know you don’t live here, but, what would you rather be? A New Orleans champ or a New Orleans chump? Don’t get snookered. There is more to New Orleans than what you’ll find on Bourbon Street.
Don’t be fooled. I know what you’ve read and I know what your friends have told you. Locals do go to Frenchmen Street occasionally, but, it’s really just another Bourbon Street minus all the hucksters. Frenchmen Street is Tourist Central the ways the 200-500 blocks of Bourbon Street are Strip Club Central. There is more to New Orleans than any casual visitor will ever know. That’s okay, but, real travelers want to know better. Be a New Orleanian while you are here. Real New Orleans will change your life.
ANYONE CAN LOOK SOMETHING UP ON THEIR PHONE.
If you know about something in New Orleans, guess what? So do a million other people.
To be in the know in authentic New Orleans, you have to be a New Orleanian while you are here. Get yourself into an authentic New Orleans state of mind. It’s easy, once you get off the usual tourist radar. In real New Orleans, dreams come true. I see it happen every day. I live here.
Think like a New Orleanian. Take your time. Talk to everyone. Don’t be in a rush. Enjoy every moment. New Orleans will take care of you. Nurture the things from which good memories are made while you have the chance to make them.
Talk like a New Orleanian. Mispronounce the street names. Put the accents where you think they don’t belong. That’s the way New Orleans works. New Orleans accentuates the positive. No one will make fun of your accent. Like a pretty girl with one brown eye and one green eye, your accent will make you more attractive—you can’t help it.
Be a real New Orleanian. Whether you want to be a New Orleans champ or be a New Orleans chump, that’s up to you. You can stay inside the typical tourist bubble, seeing all the tourist must-sees, or you can venture out into real New Orleans, where people chose to be citizens, rebuilding after Katrina, making our city the world-class city that is deserves to be. Only 380,000 people live in New Orleans in 2020.
Ours is a small city, but I can go anywhere in the world and say that I’m from New Orleans and people will know where I’m talking about. Maybe you’re town isn’t like that. That’s okay. You can make your home in New Orleans outside the French Quarter and be a New Orleans champ. Only a New Orleans chump would spend their whole visit on Bourbon Street, with all the prostitutes there. Be your best self in New Orleans.
Be a New Orleans champ or be a New Orleans chump. The choice is yours.
In 1997, I don’t remember the day, I was saying the same things that I am saying now. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. There is tourist New Orleans and then there is real New Orleans off the tourist treadmill. You’ll love real New Orleans. How do I know? I live here.
NEW ORLEANS CHAMP OR NEW ORLEANS CHUMP?
You should see New Orleans in full sunlight. You should see New Orleans on some enchanted evening. Everything in real New Orleans is magical. You should visit New Orleans like you live here. Don’t visit New Orleans like a chump. Make some really good memories while you are here. Get off the tourist radar.
La Belle Esplanade…
…where every morning begins with a curated breakfast salon of good food from our neighborhood accompanied by good conversation.
When you are looking for someplace to stay in authentic New Orleans, to discover what it means to fall in love with the real New Orleans, you know where to stay. La Belle Esplanade has been ranked the #1 place to stay on TripAdvisor since April 2014, and, the #2 small hotel in the U.S., and #16 in the world. The Lonely Planet Guide calls us a Top Pick place to stay in this wonderful city we call home. Treat yourself right and get yourself into an authentic New Orleans state of mind. The best memories are made on our street. Read more here.
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If you want to learn more, this is your chance.