New Orleans

Nicole is Cane & Able’s New Orleans correspondent. We first met Nicole through her blog, My New Normals. The blog follows Nicole’s personal journey with MS – we immediately found it engaging, honest, informative, warm, real and full of life and spirit. It is fabulous having her on board to share her part of the world with us.  Nicole is currently busy researching for the site, so more soon. To start, a little essay… and Nicole also took the photos – the top one is St Louis Cathedral, the middle one, above ground graves and the bottom one is Café du Monde in the French Market near the Cathedral.

Why I Love New Orleans

St Louis CathedralI believe New Orleans to be the United States national capital of eccentricity. It’s where the rich people live on the high ground and the poor people live on the low ground but are usually only a few blocks from each other. The city is a mix of France, Spain and the USA all in one. Nowhere can you get such amazing food for such little money. People from New Orleans eat red beans and rice on Mondays and sandwiches made with French bread called Po’ boys. Also, some of the best food in the city can be found on food trucks. This is where items like gumbo and Cajun boudin, pork casings stuffed with pork rice dressing, are the main attraction. While many areas of the United States have great food, New Orleans has a mix of spicy dishes that are difficult to find anywhere else with that authentic Cajun and or Creole New Orleans flavor.

In New Orleans you can hear and see live music every night of the week. You have the option of watching the parade of street artists and performers around Jackson Square or world-class musicians in live jazz clubs.

New Orleans GravesThe music is as good as the food and the people are real characters. Most natives are warm and friendly. It is one of the few places in America where grown men are called “baby,” as in, “How you doin’, baby!” And women are called “darlin”. In New Orleans it’s acceptable to drink and dance at funerals and customary to bring food to the family of the person who has died.

The architecture of the French Quarter is simply outstanding, beautiful and unusual. Some of the highlights are the wrought iron unique building designs and above ground graves which are a must since the city is below sea level. The French Quarter is also home to the St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. Despite being only blocks from a number of bars and various voodoo shops the Church and its neighbors peacefully co-exist.

For me I love New Orleans because the history is enchanting, the food is outstanding and the people are kindhearted.

Cafe du Monde New Orleans

New Orleans has a rich cultural history that blends the languages and traditions of the diverse groups that settled there. The city is particularly known for its French Cajun and African American cultural roots. It is the birthplace of jazz and is host to a world-famous Mardi Gras celebration. Below I list some of the most popular and interesting areas in New Orleans.

french quarter new orleansThe French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré, is the oldest part of New Orleans and the area most popular with tourists. It stretches along the Mississippi River 12 blocks to Esplanade Avenue and 9 blocks to Rampart Street.

The “Quarter” has been declared a National Historic Landmark and contains numerous individual historic buildings that date from before New Orleans became part of the United States. Some of the French Quarter landmarks and attractions include Bourbon Street, St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. It is also a great place to hear live music and watch street performers.

The best way to experience the French Quarter is on foot.

Most areas are accessible but some streets lack curb cuts and you’ll probably encounter a few patches of uneven pavement here and there. Occasionally you’ll find sections of the sidewalk closed for construction or blocked by barriers. In most cases obstacles are easy to avoid and alternate routes are usually pointed out. Accessible public restrooms are available though out the Quarter but most close after 9pm.        

Harrah’s Casino/Fulton Street/CBD is one of the most accessible places in the French Quarter/CBD area. Here you will find dining, music and gaming. In the casino there are 104 table games, a 23-table poker room, slots, a buffet, 5 restaurants, a nightclub and a concert hall. All restrooms are accessible.

Located just outside the casino is Fulton Street. Closed to drive-through traffic, this one block long pedestrian-only street contains a strip of New Orleans themed restaurants and bars.  All venues are modern and accessible.  

The CBD/Warehouse District is located adjacent to the French Quarter. It is home to the New Orleans Convention Center, the River Walk Mall, the Superdome, a number of museums, and the New Orleans Arts District.

Bourbon Street New OrleansBourbon Street, aka Rue Bourbon, is named after the former royal family of France. It’s one of only a few places in the United States where possession and consumption of alcohol in open containers is allowed on the street. While it is primarily known for its bars, strip clubs and nightlife I recommend visiting Bourbon Street during sunlight hours. Largely quiet during the day it is a great place to souvenir shop and people watch.

The best way to experience Bourbon Street is on foot. The street stays open to car traffic during the day so you must use the sidewalks. Some areas have potholes and need repair but are overall manageable. At night car traffic is stopped and the street is open making pedestrian navigation easier.

Access to businesses on Bourbon Street are mixed. Some have flat entrance thresholds and others have one, two or even three steps at the entrance. Most places with steps have doormen that will help you enter.

Voodoo Shop New OrleansFrenchmen Street is known as the local’s Bourbon Street. It is home to a cluster of 10 to 12 small bars and clubs just outside of the French Quarter. Frenchmen Street venues feature various types of music including brass, funk, jazz, soul and blues. About 90 percent of the music played on Frenchmen Street is by local musicians. Most clubs are two-levels and don’t have elevators but fortunately in these cases the main music is offered on the first floor. The second floors are usually used for DJ’s and rap music. So if you are looking for live music most Frenchmen Street clubs provide live acts downstairs.  There are also a number of eaters on Frenchmen Street with some offering a late night menu. The streets are similar to the French Quarter in the lack of curb cuts and a few patches of uneven pavement here and there. But it is manageable if you are careful.

Music

You can hear music being played through out New Orleans at all hours of the day and night. Below are a few spots that provide excellent musical options.

Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse- 300 Bourbon http://www.sonesta.com

Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse is named after and owned by Grammy Award-winning Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield. It is located in the Royal Sonesta hotel.

The space is dark and intimate with a classy décor. It is one of the best jazz clubs in New Orleans. The drinks are a bit pricey. Most nights there’s no cover but there is a drink minimum. They also have a small appetizer/dessert menu. There are couches, tables, and chairs in front of the stage and the restrooms are accessible.

Blue Nile – 532 Frenchmen Street http://www.bluenilelive.com/

The Blue Nile is great venue to see and hear live music. While they do showcase notable national and international acts, I really love it for the local performers. There are stairs up to the second floor. The first floor is one big open room with a full bar and is very accessible. Most live music is performed on the first floor. There are very few chairs but if you request one they usually provide it for you. The stage is very low so even a seated view is great. I usually get right up front with my feet touching the stage so no one can stand in front of me.

The restroom is located next to the stage and is undersized but accessible if you have a walker. Warning- even with a small wheelchair or scooter the fit will be tight. Anything the size of a power chair will not fit.

Maison New OrleansThe Maison – 508 Frenchmen Street http://www.maisonfrenchmen.com/

The Maison is a live music venue, bar, and restaurant. The main room is on the 1st floor and has two separate stages. The front window stage hosts dinner shows and the rear stage is for larger weekend shows. The upstairs rooms host dance parties and are accessible by stairs. The stairs can be steep and tricky. Fortunately the best music is always downstairs. The most accessible restrooms are located on the first floor. They are small but manageable.    

The club is a great live music spot and host popular local and national talent. Most of the time there is no cover and a menu of food and drinks is provided till late night. They serve local favorites like jambalaya, turkey gumbo and fried alligator.

new orleans streetcars

Accommodation recommendations coming soon. What is ‘accessible’ to some people with disabilities may be ‘inaccessible’ for others so we will be road testing a couple of places to suit different needs and budgets and reporting back! Will alert in a post.