French Quarter Hotel in New Orleans
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Easter in New Orleans: Celebrate in the French Quarter

New Orleans is a city full of rich Catholic history, which means that Easter is an especially popular holiday. Take a look at ways to enjoy Easter in New Orleans, with a special emphasis on the French Quarter (it’s the neighborhood where our hotel, Bienville House, resides!).

st louis cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral offers three Mass ceremonies on Easter Sunday. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Lara Farhadi)

Experience Mass at St. Louis Cathedral

Located in Jackson Square, just a short walk from our hotel, St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. The historic cathedral still offers daily mass, including an Easter Mass of the Risen Christ that takes place at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. (review the complete mass schedule here). Afterward, head to Café Du Monde for fresh beignets and café au lait – be sure to have cash with you as this famous beignet shop does not accept credit cards.

Hunt for Eggs in City Park

Although it’s not in the French Quarter, City Park is a great destination for Easter. In addition to springtime flora and fauna, the park also hosts an annual Easter egg hunt for children ages 8 and younger. Park employees hide more than 15,000 eggs within City Park, giving kids a chance for an epic Easter egg hunt. Tickets are required ($4 each) and include a special carton that carries 12 eggs. The Easter egg hunt takes place this Saturday, March 28, at 10 a.m. (get there early – gates open at 9 a.m.).

Taste Rabbit at Kingfish

Don’t let the name fool you – Kingfish isn’t just a seafood restaurant. Located at the corner of Charles and Conti Streets, this eatery serves up smoked rabbit gumbo that encapsulates traditional Creole flavors. Served with brown basmati “dirty rice,” the dish is comforting and luxurious.

Eat Brunch at Criollo

In addition to a daily eggs benedict menu and morning cocktails, our sister hotel’s restaurant, Criollo, also offers a special Easter brunch. Guests can choose from several gourmet appetizers, mains, and dessert to create an unforgettable Easter memory.

Our Favorite Spring Menu Items at Latitude 29

Spring is officially here, and with it a chance to fill up on the light, refreshing flavors that reflect the season. Our sister hotel recently shared their favorite spring cocktails to make at home, but if you’re questioning your bartender skills, Latitude 29 has you covered.

With famed bartender Jeff “Beachbum” Berry at the helm (literally – the host stand is a ship’s bow!), Latitude 29 serves wonderfully exotic tiki cocktails and pan-Asian cuisine. Learn more about a few of our favorite spring dishes from Latitude 29 below. Whether you enjoy them at happy hour or dinnertime, these menu items don’t skimp on fresh, imaginative flavors.

vegetable poke

The raw vegetable poke at Latitude 29 is a spring delight. (Photo courtesy Latitude 29 on Facebook)

To Eat

Bamboo and Micro Green Salad – Bamboo shoots lend hearty texture to delicate micro greens. A Polynesian-inspired sauce creates a sweet, umami flavor.

Vegetable Poke – Typically made with tuna, this poke salad relies on strictly vegetables for a result that is just as flavorful. Pistachio puree, fresh corn, sweet peppers, and baby greens come together beautifully in this vegetarian dish.

Shortall’s Pineapple Bread – Pineapple and coconut to create a moist, dense bread pudding loaded with tropical flavors.

To Drink

Latitude 29 – The restaurant’s namesake rum cocktail is our drink of choice for spring. Passion fruit puree, house-made Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon all play together in this fruity, refreshing mix.

Missionary’s Downfall – Choose light rum or vodka to pair with flavors like honey, lime, and peach brandy in this vintage recipe from 1948. Mint and diced pineapple add color and texture – and flavor!

Espresso Bongo – Coffee is a must-have any time of year, but blended with citrus flavors like orange and lime plus passion fruit, pineapple, and rum, this drink is anything but a regular cup of Joe.

Latitude 29 is open daily until 11 p.m. – it’s located just through the lobby of our hotel!

Your French Quarter and Downtown To-Do List: What to do this Spring

With winter giving way to a beautiful, in-bloom spring, now is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy the French Quarter. Here are a few things to do while you’re there:

crescent city park

Crescent City Park isn’t far from the French Quarter, and you’ll get an unparalleled view of the city. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Don Pirolo)

Eat Seafood (Preferably with Your Hands!)

In New Orleans, crawfish season is a magical time of year. Learn to peel these delicious little “freshwater lobsters,” then head to Deanie’s Seafood on Iberville Street where you can get them fresh at market price. If you prefer slurping to peeling, try oysters. Acme Oysterhouse is as iconic as it is delicious – it’s been a French Quarter staple for more than 100 years.

Relax at the Riverfront

Woldenberg Park is a sprawling greenspace on the banks of the Mississippi. Just a few steps away from the French Quarter, this park features a riverside jogging path, peaceful oak trees, and an up-close view of the Mississippi River.

Get a Skyline View

Not across the river but simply around the bend, Crescent City Park offers an incredible view of the New Orleans skyline despite being deceptively close to the French Quarter. Featuring sculptural installations and outdoor seating, the park is a photographer’s dream. Plan to bring your camera!

Go to the Grocery Store

Central Grocery on Decatur Street serves up incredible muffulettas – take one to go and eat it in Jackson Square! For a more literal take on going to the grocery store, we suggest heading to Rouse’s Supermarket in the Central Business District on Baronne Street. You’ll find Louisiana- and New Orleans-specific goods perfect for souvenirs – bring back regional foods like Zapp’s potato chips (we’re partial to the Voodoo flavor), Creole-style chicory coffee, and spice mixes for your friends and family.

Ready to walk around? There’s no better place to stay than Bienville House, located in the heart of the French Quarter.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans

St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is a celebration of the city’s rich multicultural history, which includes a strong Irish presence. Irish immigrants first came to New Orleans in the late 18th century; the city was an apt place for Irish newcomers because of its strong Catholic traditions and the shared anti-British sentiments of French and Spanish residents. The Irish immigrants integrated quickly, and by 1809 they celebrated their first St. Patrick’s Day.

st patricks parade

Unique throws like moon pies and cabbages are part of the New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day tradition. (Photo courtesy Derek Bridges on Flickr)

Since then, St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans has evolved into a multi-day affair full of parades and music. Though many of the activities take place Uptown in the Irish Channel, there are several St. Patrick’s Day events held in the French Quarter near Bienville House. Take a look at some of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the French Quarter:

Molly’s at the Market Irish Parade

Molly’s at the Market hosts its annual Irish Parade at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13. You’ll see riders in carriages and floats intermingled with marching groups as they make a full circle around the French Quarter beginning and ending at Molly’s (1107 Decatur St.) Like any good parade, this one will include throws – get ready to catch edible items like cabbages, potatoes, carrots, onions, and Moon Pies plus more conventional treasures like beads and flowers.

Italian-American St. Joseph’s Parade

Though this parade celebrates St. Joseph’s Day rather than St. Patrick’s Day, it still represents the importance of Catholic traditions within the city. St. Joseph’s Day takes place on March 19, but the Italian-American Marching Group will hold a parade on Saturday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. The parade starts at the corner of Girod and Convention Center Blvd. in the Warehouse District and will roll through the French Quarter, including a portion along Decatur St. where our hotel is located. More than a dozen floats and nine marching bands will honor this other notable Catholic holiday.

Downtown Irish Club Parade

St. Patrick’s Day itself will have another parade, this time held by the Downtown Irish Club. The parade, on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 p.m., starts in the Bywater and heads through the French Quarter to Bourbon Street.

These Spring Festivals are Sure to Put a Spring in Your Step

In New Orleans, you never have to wait long for the next celebration. Bienville House had an amazing Mardi Gras (we hope you did, too!), but now we’re on to spring festival season. With several festivals happening right within the French Quarter, our hotel is a great home base for guests searching for an authentic New Orleans festival experience. Learn how to enjoy three of our favorite spring festivals below.

St. Patrick's Day New Orleans

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations feature parade throws like beads and cabbages. (Photo courtesy SC Cunningham on Flickr)

St. Patrick’s Day

The city has its own Irish Channel neighborhood in Uptown and a rich Irish heritage tracing back nearly 300 years. So, of course New Orleans celebrates St. Patrick’s Day! On Friday, March 13, Molly’s at the Market hosts its annual Irish Parade. You might catch beads, but look out for other edible throws like carrots, potatoes, and cabbages – we’re guessing that’s not what you want for dinner, so remember to check out our on-site restaurant Latitude 29 for craft cocktails and Polynesian-inspired fare.

The Downtown Irish Club Parade takes place on St. Patrick’s Day Proper (Tuesday, March 17) at 6 p.m., and in another Catholic tradition, the Italian-American Marching Club will celebrate St. Joseph’s Day with a parade on Saturday, March 14 at 6 p.m. Both parades will venture through the French Quarter! On that note, another must-see festival is…

French Quarter Festival

Running from April 9 – 12, the French Quarter Festival is a free event that showcases Louisiana and New Orleans musicians like PresHall Brass, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, John Boutte, and several others. Spectators will also enjoy incredible food and drinks – check out a complete list of vendors – within the perennially gorgeous scenery of Jackson Square. Celebrating New Orleans’ heritage, people, food, and music, this festival is always a favorite at Bienville House.

Jazz & Heritage Festival

The annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – known affectionately as Jazz Fest, for short – features an absolutely incredible lineup of musical acts. Elton John, Wilco, Hozier, John Legend, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and No Doubt are just a few of the musicians you’ll get to hear live. The two-weekend festival also features plenty of other activities. You can explore City Park’s bountiful greenspace as you browse food vendors, a crafts market, and cultural experiences like the Louisiana Folklife Village.

Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival

Our sister property, Hotel Monteleone, is one of the hosts of the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, an annual event that pays tribute to its eponymous author through lectures, performances, a special book fair, and much more. The 2015 festival runs from March 25 – 29 (what would’ve been Williams’ 104th birthday is on March 26, so a birthday bash is part of the festivities!).

Hotel Monteleone is an especially fitting venue for the festival. Its rich literary history includes being featured in one of Williams’ plays, The Rose Tattoo; Williams also often stayed at Hotel Monteleone while he was in town.  – after all, Williams featured our hotel in his play, The Rose Tattoo, and often stayed at the hotel when he was in town.

Which festival are you most excited about? Plan your spring stay now at Bienville House!

 

Mardi Gras at Bienville House: Until Next Year!

It was the most magical time of the year – well, one of them, anyway. New Orleans always brings unforgettable experiences, whether during the holidays or during festival season, but Mardi Gras is definitely one of our favorites. The 2015 Mardi Gras season was a great one at Bienville House! Our guests enjoyed all the festivities of the French Quarter in addition to beautiful decorations right within our hotel.

We taught everyone a few Mardi Gras traditions and terms, and if you weren’t here to get a king cake baby for yourself, don’t worry! Bienville House’s on-site restaurant, Latitude 29, has incredible drinks with just the right amount of kitsch – and their Mississippi Mermaid drink features a plastic bauble not unlike a king cake baby.

We’ve collected a few of our favorite photos from inside our hotel during the Mardi Gras season. Take a look below!

Purple mardi gras flowers

Our hotel was full of decorations in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold.

balcony decorations bienville house

The balcony from our interior courtyard joined in on the Mardi Gras festivities.

Lobby decorations

Our lobby decorations were a nod to the lavish floats during the parades.

Bienville House also participated in a joint effort on behalf of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and tourism leaders (including our sister hotel, Hotel Monteleone) to help fund additional state police presence during Mardi Gras and through the duration of the festival season. With added police in the city through May, visitors can enjoy a sense of security that will allow them to truly enjoy their stay.

Whether you decide to visit for festival season or want to plan your trip for Mardi Gras 2016 (Carnival season starts on Jan. 6, and Fat Tuesday is on Feb. 9), Bienville House provides a perfect venue close to all the action.

Experience a Romantic Valentine’s Day in New Orleans

With its history, music, and fine dining, New Orleans is an inherently romantic city. During Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to make room for romance – simply take a look at our list of things to do for Valentine’s Day!

st louis cathedral
Take a quiet moment at St. Louis Cathedral as part of a romantic Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy EMR on Flickr)

Share a Whimsical Drink at Latitude 29

With a world-famous tiki expert behind the bar, Latitude 29 guarantees an unforgettable cocktail. We love how Jeff “Beachbum” Berry has created shareable drinks like the Lapu Lapu – you can sip side-by-side with your sweetheart for a nostalgic moment. Other standout romantic drinks include the eponymous Latitude 29 (with sensuous Madagascar vanilla syrup) and the Outcast of the Islands (it’s got cinnamon in it, an aphrodisiac!).

Draw Powdered Sugar Hearts at Café du Monde

There’s really no beating fresh, warm beignets doused in powdered sugar. Café du Monde’s al fresco setting is perfect for people watching, and their petite plates are just the right size for drawing powdered sugar hearts – after you finish your dessert, of course.

Dance to Street Music in Jackson Square

Part of the magic of New Orleans is its constant flow of live music. There’s always an excuse to dance, especially when you’re with your loved one at Valentine’s Day! Jackson Square is beautiful as is, but live music creates an incredibly romantic atmosphere to dance hand in hand under the stars.

Take a Quiet Moment Together Inside St. Louis Cathedral

Reflection is an important part of any relationship. You can take time for quiet introspection at St. Louis Cathedral as you admire the architecture and artwork within this historic building. It’s open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy a Moonlit River Cruise

End your Valentine’s Day on the mighty Mississippi when you take a steamboat like Steamboat Natchez or the Creole Queen for a moonlight cruise. The experience provides fabulous photo-ops and the exhilarating feeling of wind in your hair and the whole world ahead of you – a lot like how love feels, we think.

Book now at Bienville House for unparalleled access to all the romance of the French Quarter. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Latitude 29 is the Place for Happy Hour in New Orleans

Our on-site restaurant, Latitude 29, has gotten plenty of buzz since its opening last fall. From stellar Yelp reviews to write-ups in Eater NOLA, Nola.com, and more, Latitude 29 and its owner, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, are reviving the long-lost art of tiki cocktails to delicious effect. The restaurant is open from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. with a full menu of food and drink, but we’d like to highlight their happy hour.

Not only is happy hour a daily occurrence at Latitude 29 (from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.), but it’s also a chance to try special menu items only available during happy hour.

french fry banh mi latitude 29

Try the French fry banh mi for $5 during happy hour at Latitude 29! (Photo courtesy Latitude 29 on Facebook)

One of our favorite happy hour treats is the French Fry Bahn Mi – a decadent and delicious steal at $5 a la carte. Chef Chris Shortall drew inspiration from his favorite sandwich and dressed it up with house-made pickled vegetables, homemade gravy, soy sauce mayonnaise, crispy French fries, and bread from a local Vietnamese bakery. It’s vegetarian (so is the Tofu Banh Mi, another happy hour addition), so it’s healthy… right?

If savory sandwiches are making you thirsty, try ordering the Snow Leopard. Available for $8 during happy hour, this drink is a delightful mix of sweet and savory. Jamaican and Virgin Island rums with coconut cream, and lime pair up with unexpected ingredients like caraway seed liqueur, Thai sweet chili sauce, and cilantro for a complex and totally delicious drink.

Other happy hour menu items include a crisp meat pie with pickled pineapple and watermelon rind, plus all the awesome, tropical-inspired drinks you’ve come to expect from Latitude 29.

Book now at Bienville House to enjoy Latitude 29 – see you at happy hour!

Ready to Roll: Krewe du Vieux Parades this Saturday

Mardi Gras gets underway this weekend with the Krewe du Vieux parade on Saturday night. At 6 p.m., crowds will see firsthand the popular krewe and its wild costumes. Krewe du Vieux is one of our favorites during the Mardi Gras season – in part because their parade route is so close to our hotel! Simply step outside of our Decatur Street entrance and watch Krewe du Vieux roll right past. Check out the parade route in the map below (our hotel is marked by the red star):

 

Krewe du Vieux parade route at Bienville House

The red star indicates our hotel, near the cross-section of Decatur and Conti streets. Krewe du Vieux will roll right past!

 

Although the krewe is changing its route this year, one thing will stay the same: biting satire. Krewe du Vieux’s theme is, appropriately, “Begs for Change,” no doubt a nod to its inaugural cross over Canal Street.

Although the parade starts at 6:00 p.m., it’s hard to know exactly when Krewe du Vieux will roll past. As you wait, enjoy a drink in Latitude 29 or view our Mardi Gras decor throughout the hotel. There’s also another parade following Krewe du Vieux: Krewe Delusion rolls at 7:15 p.m. This krewe also uses satire to its advantage and will be led by burlesque star Trixie Minx.

Both parades culminate in balls for each krewe. Krewe du Vieux will hold a Krewe du Vieux Doo ball at Canal Theatre in the warehouse district; tickets are $40 and available at Up in Smoke and La Music Factory. Krewe Delusion’s ball, The Bedlam Ball, is open to the public for a cost of $10. The ball will take place on the corner of St. Ferdinand Street and Architect Alley in the Marigny.

Book now at Bienville House for unbeatable proximity to French Quarter parades during Mardi Gras. We’ve also got next year’s dates lined up!

New Orleans Speak: Learn Mardi Gras Traditions and Terms

Whether you’ve booked at our hotel for this year’s Carnival season or are planning on visiting next year, it can be hard to navigate all the Mardi Gras traditions and terms. Learn to celebrate like a local with our handy guide – we suggest reviewing it at Latitude 29 while you sip on the Bourbon-based Paniolo.

king cake

King cake is the defining treat of Carnival season. (Photo courtesy Eric Wagner on Flickr)

King Cake

The tastiest of Mardi Gras traditions, king cake comes in many forms. We mentioned some of our favorite bakeries in a previous post, but there are other fun and interesting iterations worth trying. Across the city, you’ll find king cake milkshakes, king cake lattes, king cake donuts, and more. This Sunday, there’s also the Second Annual King Cake Festival held at Champions Square featuring desserts from more than 22 bakeries.

As for the plastic baby? The tiny toy symbolizes good luck for whomever finds it inside a slice. At Latitude 29, you’ll find a similar good luck trinket perched on their Mississippi Mermaid drink – a worthy substitute, we think, for a plastic baby!

Beads

Beads are a big part of Mardi Gras, and you’ll want to drape several around your neck to celebrate the event. Beads aren’t just found in necklaces, though. Check out the artwork at the Carousel Bar & Lounge (at our sister property, Hotel Monteleone) for a subtle nod to Mardi Gras traditions. You can also admire the incredible beadwork in the costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians. Speaking of…

Mardi Gras Indians

The Mardi Gras Indians parade is perhaps the least recognized tradition of Mardi Gras, but one of the most beautiful. What was once a day for Indian krewes to settle scores is now a day to admire one another’s craftsmanship in the elaborate, and often enormous, costumes they wear.

JFP

The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold are far from arbitrary. In 1892, Rex, the king of Mardi Gras, chose these colors based on what they stood for. Purple represents justice, green is for faith, and gold is for power. Be on the lookout for decorations at our hotel in this important trio of colors.

Zulu Coconuts (and other throws)

Part of the Mardi Gras fun is catching what krewes throw off of their floats. The Krewe of Zulu – check out their parade schedule here – hands out decorated coconuts to a few very lucky parade watchers. The Krewe of Muses throws beautifully adorned shoes that are also a crowd favorite. Beads are a popular throw item, and sometimes krewes will surprise audiences with a new throw – Krewe of Sparta, for example, is tossing a top-secret item this year.

Book now at Bienville House to experience the best of the Carnival seasons.