Similar to some European markets, this historically charming open-air market features shopping, dining, music and local tradition that is uniquely New Orleans. From Caf du Monde near Jackson Square to the flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue, the French Market includes five blocks of local produce, specialty art, handmade crafts, retail shopping and more.
A Historically Popular Shopping Area
In 1791, the French Market originated as a Native American trading post along the Mississippi River. From there it continued to evolve into a cultural and commercial hub for New Orleans, as French and Spanish colonists opened the market up to ships and traders from all over the world. Over the next three centuries, immigrants from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean began to open their own venues at this French Quarter market, offering everything from Italian butcheries to African coffee and Choctaw spices.
In the late 19th century, the Market was given its modern day, bizarre-like structure, designed by Joseph Abeilard, one of Americas first African American Architects. With its new permanent home, the French Market continued to grow and add more commercial products, fresh produce and unique commodities that cannot be found anywhere else.
One of the most historically famous components of the French Market is called Dutch Alley, a charming pedestrian plaza at Dumaine and St. Phillip Streets. Dutch Alley was commenced by previous New Orleans Mayor, Ernest N. Dutch Morial, in 1978. Mayor Morial gave the French Market an extra touch of pizzaz with the Dutch Alley, as it includes a performance tent, historic statues, the Dutch Alley Artists Co-op and the visitor center for the one and only New Orleans Jazz National Park. Here you can find programs and information about special events at the French Market and all things Jazz in the city.
Today the French Market has become one of the most popular destinations in the city. Its large variety of food stands, restaurants and outdoor dining spaces draw in hungry visitors for anything from small snacks to large meals and even packaged goods to take home as souvenirs.
One of the most popular destinations is the famous Caf Du Monde. Located just off of Jackson Square, this monumental outdoor caf serves the iconic beignets and caf au lait that locals and visitors just cant resist. And there is always a musician playing the guitar or saxophone nearby. Other iconic New Orleans dishes are available at multiple venues throughout the market, including Po-boys, oysters and exotic beverages (both alcoholic and non).
One of the most popular attractions at the Market is the fresh and delicious Farmers Market Pavilion. Visitors come from near and far come to visit this pavilion, full of local produce and specialty foods with worldly inspiration. The Pavilion is open daily and includes full service eateries for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as unique drink, sweets and snack options.
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