If you are looking for a place to stay during Mardi Gras, this year or any year, and we’re fully booked (as we are this year), here’s a tip from the hip: Oakview B&B. It’s right across the street from City Park. It’s no La Belle Esplanade, but, then, what is? Aside from that caveat, Oakview B&B is a winner. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve written a lot about our inn recently, maybe too much. You are reading La Belle Esplanade’s blog, after all, and our focus should be the inn, but really there is more to New Orleans than our humble establishment. There is more to our neighborhood, even, than our humble establishment. We live in a very interesting neighborhood.
I walked our dog on Crete Street the other day.
Crete Street is pronounced like the island, but its name comes from the French word, “crete.” A crete is a crest, en français, and Crete Street was surveyed atop the crest of the original natural levee that ran along the arm of Bayou Gentilly that ran parallel to the street that now bears this name. WHAT? I know. Everything in New Orleans is complicated and confusing if you try to absorb all the layers over layers over layers of meaning and history that overlap all over this kaleidoscope of a city. Just take my word for it. It’s gonna get more bewildering later on in this blog installment, so fasten your seatbelt and get ready for some confusing reading. It’s only confusing until you get a handle on the New Orleans state of mind. Once you’re in a New Orleans state of mind, everything makes perfect sense.
If you say ‘Kret’ Steet, people will know where you mean. If you say ‘Kreet’ Street, people will know where you mean, too. Unless, of course, the people you’re talking to don’t know where Crete Street is. It’s a short street. Even though it crosses Esplanade Avenue, a street everyone knows, there isn’t much to look at on it, except for some beautiful small houses. Exhibit A:
That’s quite the front door. It’s parti-colored painted metal. New Orleans is a colorful city full of details.
These pictures in today’s installment were taken on Crete Street between Orchid Street, which is only two blocks long, and Bell Street, which isn’t a street many people travel unless they live on it or they’re taking a shortcut to get somewhere else. Welcome to secret New Orleans.
Our whole neighborhood may as well be called Secret New Orleans. There is a lot going on around where we live, but you’re not going to read about it in the guidebooks. We live in the real New Orleans, the part of the city that is off the usual tourist radar. We live in authentic New Orleans. You can, too. As long as you stay at our inn, La Belle Esplanade is your home.
Here’s another house on Crete Street:
Our neighborhood is full of captivating details. You can wander around, zigzagging to and fro mesmerized by all the streets offer up for your enjoyment. No wonder people love to live here.
Crete Street is four blocks away from our inn. La Belle Esplanade is located on Esplanade Avenue, of course, and many people who live in New Orleans consider Esplanade Avenue to be a neighborhood in and of itself. In some ways it is, but our part of Esplanade Avenue is different from the part of Esplanade Avenue that separates the French Quarter from the Marigny (another neighborhood we’re not going to get into here). Our part of Esplanade Avenue is also very different from the part of Esplanade Avenue on the other side of North Broad.
Most people call North Broad, Broad Street, but, officially, it’s North Broad Avenue, US 90, an federal interstate road that runs east-west from Jacksonville, FL to Van Horn, TX. On the other side of Canal Street, Broad Street becomes South Broad Avenue, though it isn’t US 90 after that point. All New Orleans streets change names when they cross Canal Street, just to confuse you. Notice I said that US 90 runs east-west. Our side of Broad Street is called North Broad on this side of Canal Street. On the other side, it’s called South Broad. If you’re carrying a compass as you stroll around, you’ll soon figure out that Broad Avenue runs east to west, even when you’re on North Broad Street. You’ll be walking west on North Broad to get to Crescent City Steaks. Are you feeling confused yet? Welcome to New Orleans. That’s why you should choose to stay at an inn that has two professional goodwill ambassadors as your hosts instead of a chain hotel with a concierge who has no idea of the lay of the land. We can help you decipher where you find yourself.
You’ll find yourself at home on Esplanade Avenue.
Esplanade Avenue is the boundary between the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. In our part of town, Esplanade Avenue is the boundary between Tremé (sometimes called the 6th Ward) and the 7th Ward, on the other side from where our inn is located. The 7th Ward isn’t called anything else; it’s always called the 7th Ward. In Faubourg St. John, also called Bayou St. John, Esplanade Avenue is just the main street that runs through the middle of that neighborhood.
The neighborhood that our inn is located in is alternatively called: Esplanade Ridge, Greater Tremé, Treme-Lafitte, Mid-City, or just Tremé. Our part of Esplanade Avenue is never confused with Historic Tremé. Historic Tremé is located on the riverside of Claiborne Avenue, five blocks from our address. The 7th Ward on that side of Claiborne Avenue is sometimes confused with Tremé. It might as well be. To people who live here, we just live on Esplanade Avenue, and that tells New Orleanians enough so that they know we occupy a world of our own. Esplanade Avenue really is different from all the blocks and street grids which surround it.
What does any of this have to do with Crete Street? Crete Street is part of Faubourg St. John. Faubourg St. John straddles the 6th Ward and the 7th Ward and some of it is part of the Fairgrounds neighborhood, and part of it is part of the newly coined Fairgrounds Triangle. Walk far enough along Crete Street and you’ll go from Mid-City into the Fairgrounds Triangle and you’ll be none the wiser the jurisdictions you’ve crossed. It’s all lovely.
Here’s another house on Crete Street. The trumpet flower tree in front was in full bloom:
What I like about strolling the streets between Esplanade Avenue and Ursulines Avenue is that the area is chockablock full of small details worth noticing. We really do live in a very interesting part of New Orleans. New Orleans is a very interesting city. New Orleans is more than rowdy and drunken frat-party-haven Bourbon Street. It is more than rowdy and drunken, open-all-night jazz bars on Frenchmen Street. It is more than museum-quality preserved and manicured celebrity homes in the Garden District. It is more than the six miles of ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning, small-shop commercial establishments on Magazine Street. New Orleans is more than the French Quarter. It is more than the hotels and restaurants around the Convention Center.
Come to New Orleans on business, to attend a conference, and you’ll see one part of New Orleans. Come to New Orleans to see all the things your friends told you that you have to see because those are the things they did while they were here, and you’ll see one part of New Orleans. Come to New Orleans with a fully scheduled itinerary of things you’ve read about in the guidebooks or seen on TV, and you’ll see one part of New Orleans.
Come to New Orleans and just wander around, follow your nose, wander down Crete Street, and you’ll be enchanted by another part of New Orleans. Discover the part of New Orleans that’s off the usual tourist radar. Discover what it’s like to live in New Orleans. You’ll be bewitched. It’s no wonder some people choose to live in New Orleans. It really is beautiful here.
You’ll see houses you never imagined existed on Crete Street.
Our part of New Orleans is where New Orleanians live. It’s a beautiful part of New Orleans. It’s bewildering in its way. It’s also bewitching. No one is bothered that you choose to explore where we live. People who live in New Orleans are the friendliest people on earth. We love our city. We’re proud of our city and we like to share what makes our city so great with everyone who walks down our streets, no matter what street it is, no matter what neighborhood that street is in. When you live in New Orleans, you love where you are. Come live in New Orleans for even a short time. No one ever says their visit is too long. It is always too short. There is so much to see and to do in New Orleans. If you’re bored in New Orleans, you must have a hole in your head, or a hole in your heart.
Home is where the heart is. You’ll find yourself feeling at home on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans. Know where you should stay? You’re on the right website. Stay at La Belle Esplanade.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
….where very morning starts with a curated breakfast salon.
Sunday, February 5, 2017: A parade went through our neighborhood this afternoon. It’s Mardi Gras season even though no one outside New Orleans realizes it. New Orleanians, we know it’s Mardi Gras right now. We can feel it. We’re happy!