Frenchmen Street: A Guide to Survive


Bernadette Locke

Of all the places to rewind after a long week at school or work, Frenchmen Street offers a substantial amount of culture. Walking down the street with music rumbling out of the buildings is much of an art form.

Amidst the cigarette smoke and narrow walkways, connections are formed over dancing in the middle of the street, tutus flying up in the wind. Here, a friend can be made over a borrowed lighter or a love for raw, boisterous street bands. A friendship could blossom from taking a picture with someone whose outfit is flashy, yet creative.

Tucked away from the tourist-centric French Quarter is a street lined with all-night bars, street music, tattoo shops and restaurants. Fluorescent lights illuminate the patios of clubs that the underage students of New Orleans cannot enter. Unlike Bourbon Street, Frenchmen offers a plethora of activities to do that do not require being 21.

In the historic Snug Harbor, Delfaeyo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra played a small gig at on August 30. With deafening, brassy notes, each member filed into the intimate room. Many had stained glass art in the empty spaces of their instruments. Between songs, audience members talked one-on-one with Marsalis or the other interactive musicians.

“Snug Harbor is a lot of fun,” Mason Frier, jazz studies freshman, said about his experience seeing the Uptown jazz band. “I have an idea of where I want to go, eventually [when I am 21].”

Frier said that the experience of roaming Frenchmen is heightened with friends who also help make adventuring through the spirit of New Orleans at night safer.

Street bands, people on colorful bikes, Tarot card readings, people with typewriters offering improvised poetry: these are all woven in the essence of a Frenchmen night. At the end of the night, after watching a jazz concert, Decatur is a ten minute walk down and to the right of Frenchmen as well as the home to Cafe Du Monde, where splitting a regular order of beignets, hot chocolate and cafe au lait with friends perfectly wraps up the night.

“I’ve personally fallen in love with the variety of venues on Frenchmen,” Brianna Daniel-Harkins, history pre-law junior, said. “There’s definitely a spot for everyone there-chill restaurants, louder music venues, little shops to explore through.”

There are many sides of Frenchmen Street, all worth exploring, but at different times in a New Orleans native’s life. As a freshman in college, staying sober and walking around the many bars is just as fun as drinking responsibly once a junior or senior in college.

“Contrary to popular belief, it’s so absolutely possible to have fun in this city without a drink in your hand,” Daniel-Harkins adds. “Enjoy Frenchmen sober and take in its beauty, give it the attention it deserves and then once you come of age, explore that other side of Frenchmen.”

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Frenchmen Street forever inspires those who have flocked to New Orleans to find their purpose. New Orleans is a completely different world from the small towns in Louisiana. Walking down Frenchmen Street can make anyone feel at home in the loud, busy and incredibly diverse atmosphere of New Orleans.