Springtime in New Orleans. What could be better than ancient architecture, the mighty Mississippi, and a vast profusion of fabulous flowers? Take a walking tour with us through the French Quarter, a unique centuries-old neighborhood whose intimate charms face inward – and the opulent Garden District with mansions, carriage houses, and colonnades.
French Quarter homes were built in the Spanish style, with tall shuttered windows and heavy doors closed to the street. But take a peek down any narrow service-way and you’ll see that these formidable homes were actually constructed around an atrium filled with fountains and flowers. The lives of the occupants revolved around the lovely interior spaces. Two such homes can still be viewed today…
Hermann-Grima House – Now nearly 200 years old, the Hermann-Grima House includes a Federalist façade, the original open-hearth kitchen, quarters for the home’s enslaved people, and the stunning courtyard paved with flagstones. The plantings are formal and arranged in raised beds. Orange trees, banana trees, and flowering shrubs are surrounded by low, decorative hedges. Narrow walkways separate the garden beds, thus creating an almost theater-like view of the main entrance to the home – and the perfect spot to stage a wedding.
Gallier House – Built by famed local architect James Gallier in 1861 as his private family residence, the home had innovative features like hot and cold running water and skylights. The classic courtyard has high masonry walls and round koi ponds are ringed with Chinese ground orchids. Showy camellias fill the raised beds around the perimeter.
New Orleans’ most prestigious neighborhood – the Garden District – is compact and easily walked, making it easy to see the stunning architecture and the fabulous spring blooms that enhance these opulent homes.
Once a plantation that was divided and sold lot by lot in the area between Magazine, Saint Charles, Toledano, and First Streets, the English-speaking, Americanized Garden District was considered an escape from the confines of the French Quarter. Unlike the French Quarter, though, these grand homes faced the street and showcased their owner’s wealth.
Brevard House – One of the most photographed mansions in the Garden District is Brevard House – the former home of novelist Anne Rice. Built-in the prosperous decade before the Civil War, this Greek Revival-style private residence has ornate millwork, beveled mirrors, murals, and lushly landscaped gardens. From the street, you’ll see sego palms, oak trees full of Spanish moss, azaleas, Louisiana iris, Hidden Ginger, and lilies of every sort.
Opera Guild House – Many other enchanting homes in the Garden District too, including the nearby Opera Guild Home with stained glass windows, period furnishings, and lavish gardens. Although not normally open to the public, our close association with the Opera Guild will grant you access to this incredible piece of architectural history.
Escape cold weather and treat yourself to glorious gardens on these Spring walking tours. Want to take both tours on the same day? You can! The Chief Concierge makes it happen with a fun ride on the Saint Charles streetcar so you can go from the French Quarter to the Garden District and see the sights along the way.
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