Old is what you go to see: French Quarter, New Orleans

Leave it alone -- we love it! The aging exterior of Napoleon House, New Orleans French Quarter.

Leave it alone — we love it! The aging exterior of Napoleon House, New Orleans French Quarter.

It’s not that we’re opposed to new.  Levees need repairing.  The Cabildo needs a facelift.  And paint makes old spaces new again.

Doors with broken slats, painted many times.

Doors with broken slats, painted many times.

It’s just that we love old.  Timeworn, tattered, peeling paint old.  And where else could we be more at home with the oldness than in New Orleans and the heart of the French Quarter?

Preserving more than the rich heritage of jazz, the exterior of Preservation Hall shows off its ironwork and aging exterior.

Preserving more than the rich heritage of jazz, the exterior of Preservation Hall shows off its ironwork and aging exterior.

Take Napoleon House, for example.  Occupied from 1812 to 1815 by Mayor Nicolas Girod and offered as a residence to Napoleon in 1821 while he was in exile (even though Napoleon never made it there), the home has stood solid since at least 1798 when Girod bought it at auction.  And with its history and untouched spaces (well, they look untouched), it’s as much a favorite on the outside at 500 Chartres Street as it is on the inside.

Rooftop structure, Napoleon House, New Orleans French Quarter

Rooftop structure, Napoleon House, New Orleans French Quarter

Original wall of Nicholas Girod House, now Napoleon House, on Chartres Street.

Original wall of Nicholas Girod House, now Napoleon House, on Chartres Street.

Looking through the arched doorway to the courtyard at Napoleon House

Looking through the arched doorway to the courtyard at Napoleon House

But there’s more old everywhere you turn.  From hand-made bricks settling year after year . . .

to doors that make you wonder who went in and who came out.

It’s the cute factor, too.  Shotgun houses with their quirky carved adornments and colorful facades . . .

Shotgun house, New Orleans French Quarter

Shotgun house, New Orleans French Quarter

to lighting shops that use peeling plaster walls as backdrops for new merchandise.

New lamps and mirrors contrast nicely with aged brick and peeling plaster walls.

New lamps and mirrors contrast nicely with aged brick and peeling plaster walls.

Sometimes it’s preservation efforts that ensure we get to see the old.

Preserved 1788 fireplace in Madame John's Legacy, now a Louisiana State Museum

Preserved 1788 fireplace in Madame John’s Legacy, now a Louisiana State Museum

And sometimes, it’s just happening upon a glimpse of a courtyard when you wonder who goes to and fro in a place as charming as this.

Old courtyard with painted stairs as seen from Madame John's Legacy.

Old courtyard with painted stairs as seen from Madame John’s Legacy.

Look up to see aging, antique balconies and windows and doors.

Two windows, one door open onto a stately ironwork balcony.

Two windows, one door open onto a stately ironwork balcony.

Aged but colorful -- windows on the French Quarter

Aged but colorful — windows on the French Quarter

And old window ties together aging brick and stucco walls for a glimpse of French Quarter charm.

And old window ties together brick and stucco walls for a glimpse of French Quarter charm.

Or look down dark corridors to see inside and out all at once.

Glimpse of a courtyard in New Orleans French Quarter

Glimpse of a courtyard in New Orleans French Quarter

It’s old, all right.  And we hope NOLA can keep it that way.  ‘Cause for some of us, that’s what brings us back again and again.

Old window and downspout in the New Orleans French Quarter

Old window and downspout in the New Orleans French Quarter

Thanks for joining us as we share our sights and sounds of New Orleans.

— Bert and Rusha

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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18 Responses to Old is what you go to see: French Quarter, New Orleans

  1. Great photo gallery. This is how I remember New Orleans when we visited about 20 years ago. Would love to go back there one day. 🙂

    • In many ways, I don’t think it’s changed in 20 years — and that’s what we love about it. Of course, locals will say they’ve reconstructed, cleaned out, and painted. And they have. But they haven’t destroyed the old doors, ironwork, and paint. It’s a great place to visit.

  2. Kaylene Yee says:

    Love your pictures….they really capture the feeling of old New Orleans!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ruth says:

    Love the old, too. Wonderful gallery and tour of NO.

  4. I live New Orleans, we visited 20 years ago and would return in a moment. I loved it, thanks for sharing

  5. A trip to New Orleans had been rather close to the top of our bucket list but then a friend visited this year and came back not impressed with the disrepair, filth, and crime. It tended to go down the list quite a ways after that report. Glad you had a good visit and your photos are very interesting – love the iron work. 🙂

    • Your friend makes good points about the condition of the French Quarter. Perhaps it’s because we’ve gone so often that we tend to overlook some of the things that a first-time visitor would see. We did see homeless people asleep in doorways and some dirty streets. But the beauty is all around in the aging buildings, the ironwork, and the lively people who work there. There are many cities with all these combined — the good and the bad — and we have to sift out what we can and cannot appreciate, I suppose. Travel opens eyes, for sure. By the way, I’m taking your suggestion to see Portland, NH. Can’t wait!

  6. coolquilting says:

    beautiful photos…I was in New Orleans about 15 years ago and didn’t appreciate it then…I know I would now if I re-visited!

    • We’ve visited many times, but find something different to appreciate each time. I’m interested in photography now more than I used to be so taking pictures was a lot of fun — so much to see there. Thanks for checking it out!

  7. Jodi says:

    I love NOLA and all of the old stuff, friendly people, fun things to do! Been there twice! And the FOOD – best ever! Mother’s restaurant – YUMMM!

  8. Sue says:

    New Orleans is a place I have long intended to visit – but people keep telling me it’s too touristy, ‘ won’t like it….but from this post, there appear to be tons of photo ops!

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