While in New Orleans, a couple of weeks ago, we stayed at the Hotel Monteleone. My bloggy friend Dutchbaby had written a post about spending last New Year at this hotel – here is her post. She showed some beautiful photographs of the hotel. My daughter booked a room for us there.
By a wonderful coincidence Dutchbaby was coming to the Monteleone Hotel just as we were ending our stay there. She flew early that morning after spending the night in the plane. I was delighted that she decided to wake up early so we could meet before I went to the airport. We had a cup of coffee at a close by beignet shop. It was a short meeting but we were very happy to see each other face to face. A couple of little birds jumped on the two other empty chairs and kept trying to share our breakfast.
Antonio Monteleone purchased a 64-room hotel on Royal Street in 1886. After several additions and renovations the Monteleone has now 570 guestrooms and many amenities. Well-known southern authors have stayed there and even immortalized the hotel in their works including William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose and John Grisham. Glass windows decorate the lobby with antiques and famous writers’ books.
In June 1999 the Monteleone was designated an official “literary landmark” by the Friends of the Library Association. Only two other hotels share this distinction: the Plaza and Algonquin in New York.
The bar is also a landmark. It is called The Carousel Bar because it is decorated like a carousel and slowly spins around. It takes an hour for a full rotation around the bar. It has appeared in several TV shows and films but we did not go inside as we were with our grandson.
I also enjoyed looking at the old photographs of New Orleans which were hanging in one of the halls. The view from our room was lovely too.
The Hotel Monteleone is located on Royal Street in the French Quarter. From there it was easy to walk all around the “Vieux Carré,” (old square) which is the French name for it. The quarter is old indeed by US standards (founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.) It is a mixture of French and Spanish style and certainly has an old world ambiance, but one only found in New Orleans. There are many French names for stores, hotels and restaurants but most of the houses have Spanish style architecture. Below are some vintage postcards of the French Quarter.
Two blocks from our hotel on Canal Street is a café which looks just like any café in Paris, with sidewalk service.
The French Quarter is a wonderful area for a leisure walk and to admire the intricate ironwork on the galleries. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
While walking around one can hear languages from many countries. Tourists also like to take a ride in the colorful carriages.
Close to the French Market is one of the famous Wallace fountains from Paris. You can read about them here . A little bit further stands the golden bronze statue of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc.) It was given to the City of New Orleans in 1972 by the people of France. It may look familiar to those who watch the Tour de France. The last day of The Tour, on their way to the Champs-Elysées, the cyclists ride by the statue of Joan of Arc near the Place des Pyramides in Paris and can be seen on TV. The statue in New Orleans is an exact replica. (The statue in Paris is the top right photo below.)
French influence has been felt in New Orleans for a long time. Across the street from our hotel is a drugstore with a plaque on its wall stating that the bank which originally stood there issued $10 bills with the name “dix” on them - which is the French word for ten. This could have be the origin of the word Dixie and Dixieland. Click on the picture below to read the sign.
I wonder if the French ever felt remorse to have sold the Louisiana territory to the US. It included all or part of 15 current U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. It was 2,140,000 km2 or 828,000 square miles. In 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the US very cheaply for such a large piece of land – 3 cents per acre (which would be 42 cents per acre in 2011 dollars.)
(map courtesy msnbc)
If it had remained French I guess those US states would speak French just like Quebec in Canada. I wonder if the laws would be different from the rest of the U.S. I don’t follow French politics much but noticed that conservative president Sarkozy (“the president of the rich”) was butted out by liberal François Hollande. Sarkozy’s austerity budget was like the one proposed now by Paul Ryan and the Republican Party in the U.S. Austerity did not work in France and inflation grew. François Hollande won by promising to raise taxes on the rich and big corporations. Too much austerity stalled recovery and hurt peoples’ lives there. Sarkozy tried to keep his presidency by moving to the far right but this did not help him. This is only the second time that a seating president has lost re-election in France. It ends 17 years of conservative power there. Hollande plans to hire thousands of teachers. He also favors legalizing euthanasia in special cases and gay marriage. Below is a picture of the new president of France (starting 15 May 2012) and his partner, Valérie. (photo courtesy Minnesota Public Radio.)
I’ll end this by showing the artists in Jackson Square near St Louis Cathedral. This cathedral was named after French King Louis IX, the only canonized king of France. This area does not change much as I scanned a photo taken of my husband in the same area in 2003 with my film camera – the bottom left photo below. In the top right photo my husband and grandson are taking a break from walking.
Below is another photo I scanned from our trip to New Orleans in 2003 when we came for the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. I am sitting on the steps of the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. We went back to City Park this time, but that will be in a future post.