MENU
FIVE questions
you should
ask ...
CALL US
Speak to one of our travel
experts
within 5 rings
020·7962·9933

Which of these is important to you?

  • Concierge style service. Your own dedicated travel manager who'll look after you until you travel.
  • Better value. Exclusive fares you won't find online to save you money.
  • 24 hour helpline. A worldwide team just a phone call away if you need help while you're overseas.
  • Top on Trustpilot. More highly rated than all our competitors with 98% saying they'd book again.
  • Risk free. Fully licensed with Client Trust Account to protect your money. ABTA, ATOL protected.

Your calls always answered within 5 rings.

x
You've read the reviews so why not call us NOW?
Tell us what you need. We'll find you a solution
USA Reviews 16695
USA Fly-Drives 32
USA Offers 36

Back in the swing!

A decade on from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, Siobhan Warwicker finds that New Orleans is in prime party mode

Abigail Gullo, the New Yorker who runs the bar at the much-hyped new restaurant Compere Lapin, has a theory about her adoptive city - 'they say you have to be successful to live in New York, beautiful to live in LA, but in New Orleans you can just be yourself.'

A 6in fleur-de-lis tattoo on her arm, the official Louisiana symbol, tells of her Big Easy love affair. 'I cherish bartending in this city because it's all about community. When Hurricane Katrina hit, many of the bars stayed open and staff did what they could to help, offering locals shelter.'


The self-styled Abigail Gullo


I'm not surprised. Community spirit is different here. Drink in the streets in other U.S. states and you'll be pounced on by the police. In New Orleans, they will stop for some banter or shout 'have a good time!' at revellers clutching their trusty Go Cups – plastic beakers you can grab from every bar and have refilled anywhere.

New Orleans' disdain for the status quo goes back a long way – 90 years ago it was named Prohibition America's wettest city and in 1928, when the Atlanta mayor asked Louisiana Governor Huey Long what he was doing to enforce the Prohibition Act, he reportedly replied: 'Not a damn thing!'

Most places found ways around the ban. To enter Mr O'Brien's Club Tipperary there was a secret password, 'storm's a-brewing', while guests dining at Antoine's restaurant were given teacups for their tipples. Both venues thrive today (with legitimate licences).

Drinking is still a theatrical sport. Sipping a Ramos gin fizz – one of the many local concoctions – at the 21st Amendment bar, we watch the swing-dancing couples cavorting under a deco chandelier. Ladies wear flippy skirts and bobby pins, men sport pork pie hats and shiny shoes.

Maybe it's the alligator-head voodoo sticks on sale at the market (a gift from Haiti immigrants), the celebratory approach to death with giant headstones and festival-style funeral parades, or the feeling you've stepped on to a Spanish film set that makes it so surreal.

Before the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, when the U.S. bought the whole state, ownership of New Orleans was tossed between France and Spain.


Stylish streets in the French Quarter


Often, it seems more European than American, particularly in the French Quarter, where the grand porches of 18th-century townhouses are covered by cascading plants making their escape from iron balconies.

It's also the location of our hotel. Twinkling fairy-lights hanging in the courtyard of the Maison Dupuy catch the eye of people walking by. With its Toulouse-Lautrec mural in the bistro we could be in France but for the maids gossiping in their Louisiana drawls.

A short walk away is St Louis Square, the heart of the French Quarter, where street performers perform magic for the crowds and brass bands mimic the puffed-out cheeks of Louis Armstrong.

The city's multi-culturalism means it's managed to swerve the rest of America's bind to hamburgers and fries. Instead its staple is Creole cuisine, mixing French cooking and hearty southern comfort food.

Worth trying are the alligator sausage and crayfish cheesecake at Jaquamo's restaurant, blackened fish at Tujague's and the deliciously thick grits at Brennan's.

From the hum of adversity – hurricanes, heatwaves and poverty – has erupted an attitude that life's too short. There's always an excuse for a party, and there is a festival practically every week.

Like a permanent morning-after state of dress, trees in even the most hidden neighbourhoods are abloom with streams of coloured beads flung up over years of Mardi Gras.


St Louis Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter


People stick together. Strangers greet you with 'how y'all doing?' Smart and reliable like old-fashioned butlers, streetcars are the city's only method of public transport. They create a constant soundtrack as they rattle past the mansions of St Charles Avenue and vintage shops of the Magazine district.

The French theme continues in the trendy industrial area of Bywater, where you will find Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits shop.

Enjoy a bottle of plonk and a cheese platter in its beautiful garden, listening to the lunchtime band.

Like alcohol, music is ingrained in the city's rebellious spirit. In the Twenties, jazz was associated with the underworld, with the prostitutes and gangsters who conducted their business at seedy Storyville speakeasies.

Today, world-class bands play across scores of venues every night and tiny Preservation Hall is among the most renowned.

Somehow, the drummer in the five-piece band doesn't break a sweat as he hits the fast-as-lightning syncopated beats of his solo. The city has a big birthday soon, its 300th in 2018. But in the city where age is just a number, it'll forever stay a naughty teenager.


First published in the Daily Mail - February 2017

More articles below...

For more inspiration, read what travel writers have to say...

Bowled over by the Big Apple

England cricket captain Alastair Cook can't get enough of the bright lights

Tapping into Tampa

Max Davidson reports on its rich past and irresistible energy

Hidden New York

There are plenty of places to chill out, says Jane Knight

New York's finest!

Sarah Turner filters out the best in the Big Apple

Hollywood secrets

Forget Tinseltown’s tourist traps, says Steve Turner...

Gorgeous Georgia

Dave Balow revels in the romance of this southern state

Miami is in the pink

Jenny Coad finds the city is a masterpiece of glamour and creativity

Road tripping

Simon Lewis takes a drive through California's rock and roll past

Laid back LA

Olivia Foster experiences the fabulous contrasting lifestyles in California

Florida Keys

Ruth Styles learns about bloodthirsty pirate Black Caesar on a swashbuckling adventure

The true Dallas

...and that's more than steak and Southfork, says Richard Arnold

Virtuous in Vegas

Toni Jones explores the extremes of Sin City

Southern sounds

Caroline Hendrie visits the iconic American sites that created legends and made pop history

Just my cup of tea!

Jane Knight discovers the delights of Boston's rich history

The other Orlando

Liz Kavanagh finds plenty of thrills - and no need to go near a rollercoaster

Southern Belles!

Savannah and Charleston are both wonderful charmers, says Sue Crabtree

Miami's my vice

Dom Joly reveals why he can't resist Florida

Magical Music City

Mark Palmer hits the high notes in Nashville

Singing the blues in Chicago!

The Windy City is unbeatable for music, art and glitz, says Mark Porter

At home in Vegas

Khaleda Rahman checks into the Cosmopolitan

A golden oldie

Hipsters may have replaced hippies on Pier 39 but Tamara Hinson could still feel the love in San Francisco

The world's funkiest city

Music by the mile - New Orleans is a one-off says Giles Milton

Sunshine state of mind

Frank Barrett finds Florida is ideal for a beach holiday

Holiday on a different Planet!

The incredible land of Avatar

California dreaming

The sunsets and the gold rush history grab Alice Beer's attention - but for her twins, nothing beats star-spotting

Only in Vegas

Jen Crothers is dazzled by the world's entertainment capital

Cool in Key West

Sharon Maughan-Eve bypasses the Florida theme parks and heads south for some nostalgia and serenity

New Orleans

Without all that jazz

Batty for Cincinnati

Sean Thomas explores this historic, up-and-coming Midwest city

Not quite what you're looking for?
We can easily customise an offer to suit your exact requirements

x