Teetering on the banks of the Mississippi – the arterial vein of the Deep South – French-founded New Orleans is the USA like you’ve never experienced before. Voodoo myths are as fascinating as the seductive soul music, Creole cuisine is interwoven through all of the city’s festival celebrations, and the sweet fragrance of olive plants wafts through the historic streets. It all sounds pretty good, right? Add to that the enticement of new direct flights with British Airways, starting on 27th March 2017 from London Heathrow, and you’ll soon realise there’s never been a better time to visit the Big Easy.
During Mardi Gras
Loud, large and a riot of colour, Mardi Gras is a festival that brings the unimaginable to life. Visiting during this two-week fiesta is a great way to see Orleans at its most flamboyant – think vibrant costumes, elaborate parade floats and jazz musicians playing live. Prepare for bigger crowds and higher prices, but it’s a not a bad trade-off for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In the French Quarter
Intricate cast-iron balconies, horses and carts and brightly-painted shopfronts: the French Quarter is unmistakable. It is the city’s cultural centre – perhaps down to the fact it is the oldest neighbourhood in Orleans – and the entire Vieux Carré (Old Square) has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Observe a mix of French, Spanish, Creole and American-style architecture here, and be inspired by a setting that has stirred the likes of Mark Twain, among dozens of other writers, poets and musicians.
Through the eyes of artists
Within the French Quarter lies the Jackson Square artist colony. A plethora of artists congregate here daily, lining the streets with an array of their best works – from photography to oil paintings and charcoal sketches. And, although the area is pretty, it’s this colourful artistry that makes it so alluring.
With a drink in your hand
A confection of neon, nightclubs and niche bars, Bourbon Street is the best place to grab a drink and really immerse yourself in the NOLA atmosphere. Whether wine, beer or a cocktail is your drink of choice, there are dozens of watering holes to choose from – we recommend Bourbon O for good ambience and a tried and tested list of cocktails, while Musical Legends Park pays homage to jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Pete Fountain.
While boating the along the bayou
There’s heaps to see beyond the bustle of the city in New Orleans, and one of our favourite things is the collection of swamps and bayous. These picturesque waterways will bring you closer to the nature of Louisiana – think alligators and Spanish moss aplenty. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the elusive Bigfoot.
From a plantation home
New Orleans Plantation Country is the stuff of majestic time warps. Set foot on any one of the nine estates in the region, and you’ll be transported back to a time of sugar production, moss-cloaked trees and arresting architecture. The vast wealth that exists in these lavish homes gives a real insight into how the owners lived back in the 1800s, and also offers a stark contrast to the slave cabins on-site.