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New Orleans Street Adventures - Rue Chartres

St. Louis Cathedral

One of our favorite streets in New Orleans in Rue Chartres. If you start on Canal Street and head down to St. Louis Cathedral, you’ll discover much that captures your interest in between, including fine hotels, old bookstores with amazing finds, fun antique shops with treasures from floor to ceiling, a tea room where people have been getting their fortunes told since 1929, and fabulous restaurants.

Before you get too far down the street, you might want to stop for a bite at K-Pauls. Even though Chef Paul Prudhomme is no longer with us, his extraordinary talent and love for life lives on in his restaurant. His chicken and andouille gumbo is the best you’ll ever taste. And you’ll be thinking about his fried flounder with oyster dressing for years to come.

Another must-experience is Pierre Maspero’s, located at 440 Rue Chartres in a 1788 building. They say Andrew Jackson met with the privateer Jean Lafitte here to plotted their strategy for the Battle of New Orleans. Today, it’s a great place to dine on authentic New Orleans cuisine and people watch. If you want to find out what alligator tastes like before you go home, this is a good place to try it. And here you don’t have to choose between Cajun jambalaya, crawish étouffée and gumbo. Order the Crescent City Sampler and experience it all.

And the Napoleon House, at 500 Chartres, is the ideal spot for sipping a Pimm’s Cup, sharing a muffuletta and taking in more history. You’ll find the fascinating history of the building on the menu. If these old walls could talk! The Napoleon House was one of Tennessee Williams favorite haunts. It will be one of yours, too.

Chartres is one of those streets you want to take your time with. Don’t be in a hurry here. Give yourself permission to mosey in the shops. You might stumble across a silver cigarette case once owned by Bette Davis and monogrammed with her initials. You’ll find fun, affordable art by locals like Dr. Bob of “Be nice or leave” fame. And the Pharmacy Museum at 514 Charters isn’t your typical drug store. Come see jars of leaches and voodoo potions, a license for dispensing opium, and learn about questionable medical practices.

Speaking of museums, when you hit Jackson Square, do yourself a favor and explore the exhibits in the Cabildo and The Presbytere, the two Louisiana State Museums that flank St. Louis Cathedral. The Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed, is an awesome experience. Five American presidents have visited here. And the Mardi Gras exhibit at the Presbytere embodies the carnival spirit all year round.

In case you were wondering, it’s more than okay to take a peek inside St. Louis Cathedral. Take sanctuary from the hustle and bustle outside and collect your thoughts before you continue on down the street to The Old Ursuline Convent, the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. Here you’ll admire an original hand-crafted cypress staircase, religious artworks and a beautiful walled courtyard. Take a moment to reflect here and plan your next New Orleans adventure.