Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Ambiance in New Orleans

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.

Please click on collage to enlarge, then click on each picture

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.


wenn said...

lovely..great shots

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I think New Orleans is probably the most interesting city in the United States....So much History; So many things began there---misically, and in the literary world too....
LOVE all your pictures, my dear....That Hotel looks Fabulous!

DJan said...

It's always wonderful to meet someone face to face who is part of your life virtually. Wonderful and informative post, as usual, VB. I so enjoy your well-written blog. Thank you for the tour of New Orleans.

Val said...

a fascinating tour of an intruiging city; so glad it seems to have recovered from those floods? that hotel looks impressive and i can imagine the carousel bar could get confusing!

Down by the sea said...

I love your posts they are so informative! The hotel you stayed looks amazing! Did the area of New Orleans you were visiting escape those dreadful floods they had?
One of the blogs I follow from France had the statue of Joan of Arc in Paris, in one of her postings this week, wasn't htat strange!

Sarah x
Sarah x

Vicki Lane said...

Another wonderful post, Vagabonde. What a beautiful hotel! Alas, my experience of New Orleans is limited. Over fifty years ago, on a bus headed for summer school in Mexico, my friends and I took advantage of a thirty minute stop in NO to RUN from the bus station to the French Quarter just to say we'd seen it, I could swear we passed under one of those filigree balconies in one of your photo. But as it was 6 am, there wasn't much going on. . .

Jeanie said...

Back from France/Amsterdam/London and know it will take me forever to catch up with your posts, but just wanted to say hi. And I adore New Orleans -- this was a good re-entry into blog world for me!

Marguerite said...

Love The Monteleone and this post brought back many memories for me. Looks like ya'll really packed it in and had a wonderful time. And I'm glad that you got to go on the Mississippi River cruise. Really cool that you got to meet Dutch Baby, too. Cheers and Happy Mother's Day, cher!

Thérèse said...

One more interesting post. An amazing hotel too.

FilipBlog said...

You did a lot of work on this article again. I didn't know that New Orleans was so beautiful.


Kay Dennison said...

I think I've said this before but I can't think of anything else to say . . . New Orleans is one of my favorite cities!!!! Love your photos and commentary!!!

Dianne said...

the hotel looks magnificent
I really like your first shot, and the birds trying to share breakfast are adorable

Mary said...

Loved this post and the fact you actually got to enjoy breakfast with your blog friend. You did know your hotel is haunted I'm sure!!!!!

The 'dix' plaque and story is very interesting - I don't recall seeing that when I was there.

Thankfully the city has recovered a lot since Katrina but I know there is still a lot to do It's such a wonderful place...........I hope to return some day.


Pat said...

What a splendid hotel and with a fascinating literary connection.
How great that it was a fellow blogger who pointed you in the right direction and you were able to meet up.
Delighted to recognise Joan of Arc.
I'd love to go there.

Frances said...

Vagabonde, I really enjoyed reading this post, and its tip about the possible French source of the "dix" in Dixie.

I so look forward to seeing you soon, to trade more stories. xo

Sally Wessely said...

I loved this post, as I always do whenever you treat us to photos and commentary about your travels. My son was in New Orleans just this past weekend. He said it was just wonderful there. I would love to visit it someday.

I loved the photos of the Hotel Monteleone. Wow, what a place it is! Your photos truly are great.

Arti said...

What a beautiful post! All the photos are fascinating! Regarding the French election, any idea what Sarkozy is going to do next? More movie roles for the Mrs.?

Elaine said...

Nice to see more of New Orleans. I love all the beautiful ironwork they have. It's a lovely city to visit.

Reader Wil said...

How wonderful that you should meet Dutchbaby! Blogging is fun especially when you meet your blogging buddies.I was happy to meet Dina in Israel. I also met the two Greek blogging friends with their families here in my house, and some months later Kay near the windmills where we had coffee outside the souvenirshop,because the weather was fine and sunny.
Have a great week!Bonne journée!

Fennie said...

Fascinating - as indeed are all your posts, Vagabonde - and thanks so much for them. I now know far more about New Orleans (in fact I know more about it than Old Orleans - except that Joan of Arc was called after the city (but why? - she didn't come from Orleans, did she? but from Alsace - or somewhere near there. Did she raise the siege of Orleans? I must look it up.)

Yes the Louisiana purchase: Napoleon needed money and in any case he had little time for the New World and focused more on the East than the West. But he could have escaped to the US from La Rochelle - a course that had been recommended to him. All fascinating.
42 cents an acre! 3 acres for the price of a newspaper!

Jenny Woolf said...

Your post brings the atmosphere of New Orleans back to me. I only visited it once but every city has its own flavour, and for a few moments I was there in the heat and with the feeling that ...welll.. fun things were happening.... don't know quite how to sum it up. Thanks for a great post.

Kittie Howard said...

Gorgeous post! Absolutely gorgeous! And hub and I stayed in the Monteleone for New Years. (LOVE that hotel.) Watched the Saints game with friends in the Carousel Bar on New Year's Day. Best Bloody Mary's in the City.

Speaking of places, I've got an award for you at my place.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, . . . much to think about and much to look at in your posting on New Orleans. One of my great-nieces will be visiting Paris next year for two months as a student. She is majoring in photography and is thinking about doing her "final" on the comparisons between Kansas City (where she lives) and Paris. So I'm going to send her the URL for this posting to give her a taste of the Parisian life. Thank you.

Ginnie said...

I LOVE that you and DB have met face to face, Vagabonde, just like you and I have! YAAY. And now that I have read your paragraph on France's new president, I'm liking him more and more. I hope the same thing happens to us in America this year, truth be told!!!

Perpetua said...

Oh I do love your fascinating travel posts, Vagabonde. The next best thing to visiting places myself! I'm glad to see that New Orleans seems to have recovered well from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, at least in the historic centre.

Sheila said...

So much history and such a colourful place. I loved finding out why it is called Dixieland.
I always learn something when I come there!
Thank you, or should I say 'Merci' Vagabonde!

Dutchbaby said...

It was fantastic to meet you in person, Vagabonde. You are every bit as charming in person as you are on your blog. In the tech world we call this WYSIWYG (pronounced wizziwig): what you see is what you get.

Your photos of those rascal birds are great. I also like your photos of the carousel bar. I never think to take photos there during the day. I loved learning about the roots of "Dixieland".

I wish you could have joined my daughter and me for Jazz Fest. It was the most exhilarating music experience: Beach Boys, Tom Petty, Cee Lo Green, and The Boss: Bruce Springsteen. All in one short weekend.

I hope to meet you again another time, maybe for longer and definitely without being sleep-deprived.

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde.J'ai un problème avec la traduction française qui arrive tout en bloc et je n'ai plus rien après sous les photos, j'ai un de mal à suivre.
J'ai une grande carte de l'Amérique représentant le territoire français qui ne se bornait pas seulement à la Louisiane.
En ce qui concerne notre nouveau président de la république, je pense que cela ne va pas changer le quotidien des français. A chaque élection on nous promets un tas de changements positifs et rien n'est fait, ou si peu. On verra si cela se passe mieux qu'avec le petit Nicolas.

Jeanne said...

This is an absolutely wonderful post on New orleans. I have been there only one time, and you have made me want to return. Had nearly forgotten about the beignet. So yummy. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend

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