A Yankee View of New Orleans

People from Connecticut are savvy.  How do I know?  Because I’m originally from Connecticut, that’s how.  I’ve got a Yankee view of New Orleans.


A yankee view of New Orleans
Your humble narrator

I’ll bet you don’t meet many people from Connecticut as you go about your day-to-day routine.  It’s a small state, about 30 miles wide by 100 miles long, and it’s home to about 3 million stalwart citizens who don’t usually move away.

Connecticut’s state motto is “Qui Transtulit Sustinet,” or, in English, “Who Transplants Sustains.”  It’s meant to mean that people who move to Connecticut to settle will thrive there, though some wags in the state like to say it means that people who transplant to other states will thrive.  Both interpretations have their merits.  I’m proof of that, too.

I’m a cranky Connecticut yankee to the core, but I’ve lived in New Orleans for the past seven years.  Look at me.  I’m a (somewhat) successful innkeeper in a very competitive market.  There are about 30,000 hotel rooms in New Orleans and approximately another 140 small inns with room counts ranging from 1-9 each.  Our humble inn has five suites.  Add to that the almost 6000 AirBnB listings in New Orleans, and I’m sure you’ll agree New Orleans is a pretty competitive market for your tourist dollar.  As for Frau Schmitt (the better half of this operation) and myself, we’re sitting on a pretty beautiful street.

Our boutique experience inn, your personal New Orleans lifestyle headquarters, is on Esplanade Avenue.  Let’s take a Yankee view of New Orleans:

La Belle Esplanade is the orange house in the middle.


As an innkeeper, I don’t usually get to meet a lot of people from Connecticut, either.

People in Connecticut tend to stay at home.  They’ve got things to do.  One of Connecticut’s unofficial nicknames is, “The Land of Steady Habits.”  Connecticut is the opposite of New Orleans in that regard.  In Connecticut, people like structure.  They like to plan, to arrive on time, to get their work done, to make things happen, and to get on with their other business.  People from Connecticut are always busy and on schedule.  There are few idle moments in Connecticut.

In New Orleans, people like to go with the flow and end up wherever each day will take them.  It’s been an adjustment for me to go from being a Connecticutian to being a New Orleanian, but I’ve successfully made the transition.  I like to think that that my current personality combines the best of both worlds into a satisfying whole.  I can be abrupt in conversation and I don’t take a lot of guff, but I’m all about letting the good times roll.

This weekend, our inn if full of people from Connecticut.  Not only is this the weekend of French Quarter Festival in New Orleans.  Around La Belle Esplanade it’s Nutmeg Fest this weekend.  Nutmeg Fest!  Just about everyone staying with us this morning is from Connecticut.

One of Connecticut’s nicknames is, “The Nutmeg State.”  In fact, people from Connecticut rarely, if ever, refer to themselves as Connecticutians.  We call ourselves Nutmeggers, and we call ourselves that with justified pride.

Dale and her husband just left our inn to go back home to Connecticut today.  They stayed with us four nights.  Nobody ever says their visit to New Orleans is too long unless they’re from Connecticut.  If they’re from Connecticut, they’re sad to leave but they’re also eager to get back home to get back to work.  That’s the Nutmeg way.  Connecticut isn’t called The Land of Steady Habits for nothing.


Top-rated breakfast buffet in New Orleans
A partial view of breakfast at La Belle Esplanade


I was talking with Dale over breakfast yesterday morning.  Here’s what she said:

“I can’t describe what this trip is like.  I can say what happened, but that won’t describe it.  We did things, but there is more to what we did than what we saw.  There aren’t words for all the things that we experienced.  I can describe what we did, but I can’t exactly describe what happened.”

Yeah, that’s why I love New Orleans.  This city is more than the sum of its parts.  There is something ineffable about New Orleans.  There’s a hard-headed yankee way of looking at things, the sensible way of tackling a day, something for which yankees are well-known.  You can approach a day with a plan, with an intent, with a reason, but New Orleans will derail whatever you’re up to in a good way.  New Orleans is full of surprises in a way that Connecticut can’t ever be.  The two places have a genetic difference, a difference that can be bridged only by visiting.  New Orleans is seductive.

I’m not saying anything bad about Connecticut.  Heaven forbids it.  I love my home state and I miss it in many ways.  I always tell our guests they should visit The Nutmeg State.  But, there’s no denying that there’s a gulf between the Connecticut way of doing things and the New Orleans state of mind.  In New Orleans, everything works out unexpectedly for the best, in the best possible way.  A yankee view of New Orleans is often left without words to describe what takes place in this magical city Frau Schmitt and I call home.


The best place to start your New Orleans day
Our dining room, La Belle Esplanade, New Orleans, LA


Hey!  Dale and Al!  Thanks for staying with us.  Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share our new, transplanted home with you.  I love Connecticut.  I’m still a cranky yankee.  Down here, people think I’m a crazy yankee.  No worries, either way.  New Orleans is like nowhere else.  Thanks for staying with us.  There is no place else like New Orleans.  We can try to describe it, but it’s a magical world unto itself, especially when you get off the tourist grid and embed yourself in New Orleans in the round.  Good meals in our neighborhood, good times in our neighborhood, puzzling streetscapes and strange architecture, friendly people on the street, good public transit….That’s New Orleans.

New Orleans!

There is no place else like New Orleans.  You can tell people what you did while you were here, but you can’t bottle that magic and sell it.  New Orleans has to be experienced to be, well, to be experienced in the round on the ground, the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.  Good memories are made on our street.

À votre santé,

La Belle Esplanade

where every morning begins with a curated breakfast salon of good eats chosen from our neighborhood and good conversations between our guests.

Saturday, April 8, 2017:  When you’re in a New Orleans state of mind, you don’t worry about tomorrow.  Today is today and we’ve got enough to enjoy today, don’t we?

Postcript:  Wanna get the latest inside skinny about La Belle Esplanade and our neighborhood?  Sign up for our occasional newsletter in the form at the bottom of this page!  Like La Belle Esplanade on Facebook, too, to get updates on our blog as new installments are posted in real time!  Be a New Orleanian, wherever you are.