23 February 2009


I love New Orleans. I love its food, music, energy, funky eclecticism, soul, romance and architecture. I love its unzipped, everything goes, let's party attitude. (Family lore has it that one of my paternal ancestors was a pirate here!) This is my tribute to the Big Easy, in honor of Mardi Gras -- tomorrow's Fat Tuesday celebration that's already underway. Laissez les bons temps (et bons modes) roulez!

A is for Architecture

This is one of its most famous buildings, the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, photographed by Chris Jernigan. His work is available at his christophr shop on Etsy, my favorite new source for all things art and design.

B is for Brennan's

Brennan's exemplifies the lavish European style that is so prevalent in old Nawlins buildings, especially its historic restaurants and hotels. Brennan's also lays claim to inventing one of the best desserts ever experienced anywhere -- the Bananas Foster. Honestly, they also make it better than anyone else.

C is for Cafe Du Monde

Because B also brings you beignets, New Orleans' flavorful answer to donuts and pastries, no photo essay of the area would be complete without a shot of its most famous purveyor of beignets and chicory coffee. I'm not sure how Mailelani, another Etsy artist, found it so empty; this patio is usually overflowing with adoring fans. But then, it's definitely worth the wait!

D is for Dreamy Bedding

I spotted this New Orleans toile online a while back and have been pondering where I can use it chez Jamie. The fine folks at Hazelnut, a local home and gift emporium, have employed it well in this oh-so-luscious bedding. Sweet dreams, mon cher!

E is for Elegant Imbibing

There may have been no place better for a late night sip than the Sazerac Bar at the Fairmont Hotel, (nee Roosevelt Hotel), and no cocktail -- save, perhaps, the hurricane -- more identified with New Orleans than the Sazerac. If you fancied your drinking fancy, here is where you'd want to raise your wrist. After Katrina, you'd have been out of luck; the hotel was damaged by the storm and closed. Now, I understand, it's reopening this Spring as a Southern outpost of the famed Waldorf-Astoria, and the Sazerac will be returning! How divine!

F is for the Fleur de Lis

You can find these shapely symbols everywhere in New Orleans. They adorn gates and walls, NFL helmets and gold necklaces. The version shown here from Stencilease.com can easily adorn your home. I wouldn't be surprised to find it in mine one of these days!

G is for Garden Courtyards

One of New Orleans' secret pleasures is its courtyard gardens. Tucked behind walls and gates, these gems delight the eye and the nose. The one shown here at the Beauregard-Keyes House in the French Quarter delighted my heart, too -- it's where my husband and I got married in 2001. When we first visited in December 2000, it was fairly bare, but still charming in its classical lines. When we returned in May for our rehearsal and wedding, the magnolias were in full bloom. The air was perfumed with their fragrance and their magnificent white blossoms rivaled my wedding gown!

H is for Horse-drawn Carriages

Yes, they're touristy. And no, from what one driver told us, they're not even horses. They're hardier mules. But heck, it's all about fantasy and horse-drawn carriages fulfill every gal's dream to be swept off her feet by a handsome prince. Here, the carriage arrives at the four-star Omni Royal Orleans hotel.

I is for Intricate Ironwork

This is the iron lace that characterizes so much French Quarter architecture. Charming and iconic, nothing says old Orleans as much as the decorated balconies lining its streets. Those shown here belong to Gallier House, designed in 1857 by local archietct James Gallier, Jr.

J is for Jewel-toned Creole Cottages

You see them everywhere. Bright colors beckoning you onto narrow side streets, toward even narrower shotgun homes. Their joyous facades -- captured here by Etsy artist B. Sasik -- mock their humble size. They tease, tempt and tantalize. How fun life would be in one of these houses.

K is for King Cake

Never heard of King Cake? It's a long-held Mardi Gras tradition that blends calories, color and the Christ child. You'll find all three baked into a sweet treat each year at parties across town. Tradition demands that the snacker who finds the baby doll inside the cake brings the next one. The one shown here is from Gumbopages.com, which kindly offers a recipe, as well... Just in case you want to export the tradition to your town.

L is for Luxury

New Orleans knows how to luxuriate. While this handsome suite lives in the elegant Windsor Court Hotel, you can find bedrooms like this in fine homes throughout the comfortable neighborhoods in and around the city. Wouldn't you enjoy slipping between these sheets?

M is for Mississippi River Steamboats

I love the Mississippi River. Whenever I cross over it, whether by car or plane, I sing a verse of "Ole Man River" under my breath. Nothing symbolizes the river more than its steamboats. Here's the Natchez, still plying the waters off New Orleans, though it now carries diners enjoying jazz, not cotton or contraband

N is for Nottoway

This 150-year-old Southern belle upriver from New Orleans has
the quintessential porch. Pull up a chair, sip a julep and set a while. Nottoway: Isn't this how you picture the old South?

O is for Oak Alley

Another iconic Louisiana plantation home, Oak AlleyPlantation sits along the famed River Road in Vacherie, an easy drive from New Orleans. I include it here because its elegant allee exemplifies classic Southern architecture. If it looks familiar to you, it could be because Interview with a Vampire was filmed here, and the home co-starred as Louis' home.

P is for Pitot House

This is a far more typical Louisiana architectural style. The Pitot House is the only Creole colonial home museum in New Orleans and a state landmark. The broad, steep roof, double porches and French doors opening up to the rare breeze are local archetypes. This is the type of home I'd love to build, though on a not-so-big scale!

Q is for Queen of the Damned

Ann Rice, author of the Vampire Chronicles, is one of New Orleans' most famous residents. Her Garden District Greek Revival home, shown here, was the setting for numerous Rice novels. (Bet you didn't think I'd come up with a "Q" entry, did you???)

R is for Rex - King of Carnival

The legendary Rex Organization was founded in 1872 and defines Mardi Gras traditions. There's the King, the Queen, the Court, the parade and the Rex Ball. Rex's 2009 theme is "Spirits of Spring." This beautifully-illustrated Rex Proclamation is available for sale. Even if, like me, you're not particularly entranced by middle-aged business men in royal regalia, you've got to admire the lovely art nouveau poster! Ed Dyer is the artist.

S is for Soniat House

I love the quiet elegance of this French Quarter hotel. It's a welcome retreat from the mania that is Mardi Gras-central. Savor the soft hues and fabrics. Soniat House embraces its guests in cool comfort. This is where I want to stay on my next visit.

T is for Tangerine, Teal... and Trash

New Orleans homes are famous for their colorful facades. Here's one I spotted online in bright orange and several shades of blue and green. Gotta wonder about the dreary trash can out front, though... Still cleaning up after Katrina?

U is for Ursuline Academy

UA is the oldest continuously-operating school for women in the U.S. It's also a fine-looking building turning out fine-tuned minds.

V is for Voodoo!

New Orleans might be the only American city with a voodoo shop. I spotted it on my first trip there, and tripped out! When I was wandering around Etsy the other day, I spotted this voodoo doll on DBayou18's shop and time-travelled back a decade.

W is for World War II Museum

New Orleans is home to the National World War II Museum. Its architecture is far more modern than the history it shares, but the contemporary space and its precious contents are all worth a look. This official image shows the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion at night.

X-Rated Disneyland

Sorry, I'm not including a picture of drunken women showing their boobs or butts for plastic beads. There are other web sites for images like that! However, the prevailing mood of Mardi Gras is one of alcohol-soaked revelry. In my opening paragraph, I described New Orleans as unzipped. Others call it the Big Easy. Get as loose as you want. No one will mind, cher!

Y is for Y'all Come Back Now!

If you love New Orleans, go back for a visit. Support the local economy. Visit the local sites. View the local architecture and make new friends! Maybe you wait until Jazz Fest or the French Quarter Festival, but pay a visit to the Crescent City this year!

Z is for ZZZZZ

This labor of Louisiana love took far longer than I expected. It's 1:37 and I'm calling it a night! Sweet dreams, mes amis!


  1. Jamie, Having grown up 60 miles east of New Orleans on the Mississippi Coast, I thoroughly enjoyed your use of the alphabet with accompanying photographs touching on the many treasures of this special city. As I scrolled down I had fun with my own expectations as to what the next letter would represent. Most were what I guessed though I thought the "S" would be for the Saints!

  2. Happened across your photos and enjoyed them and your A-Zs very much. I live in MS and they brought back great memories Thanks.

  3. Thanks, I do, too! I wrote another NOLA-inspired post you might enjoy earlier this year:


    PS: I love your furniture, too!

  4. Susan, I loved the MS Gulf Coast, too -- and AL's! (We mini-mooned in Gulf Shores and enjoyed the drive from NOLA through MS.)

    Anonymous, thanks for sharing!


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