You may remember from Monday’s post that I know quite a bit about the French Quarter. And you may recall from Tuesday’s post that I also know a bit about the Riverwalk area and the Central Business District. Today’s post will be much shorter as — Honesty Time — I know very little about Treme and Frenchmen Street in Marigny.
I’m a FRAUD! No, not really. I’ve visited these areas and enjoyed them, but I speak with far less authority than I do with other parts of NOLA (including tomorrow’s post about the Garden District), simply because I’ve spent less time there. So… finger wagging and eye rolling from the locals aside, here’s my (slightly inexperienced) take on Treme-Lafitte, AKA Faubourg Treme, AKA just plain ol’ Treme (and yes, it’s the namesake and location for a really excellent HBO show).
Situated above the French Quarter, Treme is historically referred to as Faubourg Treme (“faubourg” meaning suburb in French). Aside from being the oldest African-American neighborhood, Treme also has the Louis Armstrong Park, named for one of NOLA’s most famous residents.
Towards the south entrance of the park, you’ll find another historical attraction:
In the 1800′s, slaves would meet here on Sundays and form drum circles. These circles evolved to include more instruments and styles as well as dancing. Most historians (and I’m sure nearly all Treme residents) agree that this is where jazz music was born.
Congo Square stands not only as a landmark in music history, but also as a popular music venue today.
West of the park — and technically in Iberville, not Treme — are St. Louis Cemteries #1 and #2. In most other cities, historical cemeteries wouldn’t be all that remarkable (aside from the popular “Find the oldest tombstone” game… or are we the only ones who play that?). However, in NOLA, due to the fact that most of the city is below sea level and due to NOLA’s rich Spanish and French history, the graves are all in above-ground vaults; in the St. Louis cemeteries, most of these vaults were constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are dozens of companies that offer tours throughout the cemeteries, though you are free to walk them yourself.
I can see how someone might see a tour through one of these “Cities of the Dead” as a bit morbid, but they really are quite beautiful and almost… romantic? And it’s definitely a cool and unique experience that you won’t have in many other places.
Famous “residents” of St. Louis Cemteries (#1 and #2) include: Homer Plessy (of Plessy v. Ferguson fame), voodoo priestess Madame Marie Laveau, and dozens of statesmen and politicians.
Heading east of Treme into the neighborhood of Marigny, you’ll find what most locals agree is the home to the best jazz music in NOLA (and arguably, the world), Frenchmen Street.
As you walk down the street, you’ll spot a unique architectural style called Creole Cottages, most of which date back to the late 1790′s to the mid 1800′s.
Though the architecture is something to see, the main event on Frenchmen Street is the music. Josh and I have not been to all of the jazz clubs there, though we have checked out (and loved) Spotted Cat , the Apple Barrel, and d.b.a. (which has an incredibly extensive alcohol list).
Other Frenchmen street jazz clubs include:
- The Blue Nile Night Club
- Cafe Negril
- Igor’s Check Point Charlie’s
- Dragon’s Den
- Hookah Cafe
- La Maison de la Musique
- The Praline Connection
- Manahan’s 13
- Snug Harbor
- Mimi’s in the Marigny
Of course, these clubs do not play jazz music exclusively — some feature blues, R&B, and Rock and Roll, among other styles. However, it’s the jazz music (and dancing) that gives this area its appeal to tourists and locals alike. Check out their official website for more info (that’s right, a street gets its own website).
That’s it for today, kids! See? I told you I was no authority on the subject of Treme and Frenchmen Street. However, it is my hope that some of what I’ve mentioned today will pique your interest when planning a NOLA vacay, and perhaps you’ll feel like venturing forth from the Quarter (though we all love the Quarter). Check back tomorrow for my last NOLA post — I’ll be talking about the Garden District and outlying areas, including NOLA day trip ideas.
And since this was not my area of expertise today, please feel free to leave any helpful comments, suggestions, and tips for visiting the areas north of the Quarter.
Delicious restaurants? Music venues? Activities? Historical landmarks? Secret shopping spots? Share any and all!