The French Market District is a six block stretch from Café du Monde to the Flea Market and is great for spending one or two hours with the kiddos at the holidays. Because of its naturally charming architecture and atmosphere, the added bonus of the season’s decorations and displays and the sounds of jazzy holiday songs wafting in the air make for a memorable and authentic local experience.
Here are a few ways to approach this area, without feeling like you’re partaking in any holiday hectic-ness:
- Park near the Aquarium and take the riverfront streetcar along the River to the French Market, to stop #1. After enjoying the French Market, assess your family’s energy levels and the weather, and consider walking part of the way back on the Riverfront … even if it’s just two streetcar stops. You can pick up the red riverside car at Stop #2 or #3, and within two beautiful riverside blocks, take in some wonderful views and breezes that you can’t find anywhere else in the city. Watch the steamboats saunter by, gawk at the cruise ships passing, admire the Crescent City Connection bridge, watch pelicans, herons, and seagulls exploring the water and the shoreline, and count the barges traveling through. You’ll never have the same experience twice, depending on the River’s level, the time of day, time of year and your kids’ ages.
- Come later in the day to experience the sunset and watch the lights come on the 27 foot fleur-de-lis topped tree and the fleur-de-lis ornaments in the oak trees at Washington Artillery Park across from Jackson Square. Walk inside Jackson Square just before dark (remember, it does get locked at dark) to see the glittering landscape lit up and the Cathedral aglow. It’s pure magic … the storefronts, residential balconies, and even the mule carriages are decorated, adding a nice touch to the entire block. Shops stay open later on the Square this time of year, especially due to the free holiday concerts at the Cathedral.
- Consider taking the City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus which will take you from the French Quarter at Jackson Square, down Decatur Street, down Esplanade, then through the CBD and Uptown … should you choose to stay on it. That’s the beauty of it; you can stay on for 20 minutes or 2 hours and get back on at your leisure. They have a new “Holiday Lights” Tour that just launched a few weeks ago … save yourself the headache of parking at every light display and just sit back and enjoy. Because it is Hop-On, Hop-Off, you can decide if you want to hang out at Miracle on Fulton or elsewhere, then get back on. Begin or end the experience at Café du Monde, which is less than a block from the City Sightseeing Tours ticket booth across from Jackson Square.
Parking is easy on the riverfront at the French Market’s main parking lot behind Café du Monde. Enter near Jax Brewery and find easy access to Jackson Square, the Farmers and Flea Markets, and the riverside streetcar line.