One of the very first open-air markets in the United States, what is now known as French Market New Orleans opened in 1782, probably as a trading post along the Mississippi River. In 1790, Spanish settlers moved the market to the location where it still stands today, on Decatur Street between St. Ann and Dumaine. Since then, the market has gone through many iterations and remodels – destroyed by a hurricane, transformed into a vegetable market, and ultimately becoming the iconic tourist destination that it is today.
The current iteration of French Market is located in the French Quarter (near Bourbon Street) of New Orleans. It spans six blocks and occupies several buildings. Art galleries, clothing for adults and kids, souvenirs, home goods and decoration, candy, and artwork – often sold by local craftspeople – are all available at the market. But there’s no need to even buy anything – even walking through the market is one of the most fun and interesting free things to do in New Orleans.
Perhaps what French Market is most well known for is that it is the home of world famous beignet (one of the most famous New Orleans desserts) shop Cafe Du Monde. With its green and white striped awnings, Cafe Du Monde is often considered one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, and it’s certainly one place that everyone who visits New Orleans stops at – no matter how many times they’ve been to the city.
However, there are several other restaurants in French Market that are worth visiting, where guests can enjoy open air patios, frozen daiquiris, live jazz, and fresh seafood. One of the most visited attractions within the market is the Farmers Market Pavilion, where visitors can find a fresh food market on Wednesdays and Sundays, as well as stalls open daily offering snacks and sweets.
French Market New Orleans is also a destination for art and shopping. The Flea Market portion of the shops hosts open air vendors selling jewelry, clothing, and photography and other artwork, but there is another portion of boutiques called the Shops of the Colonnade. These brick and mortar shops sell all sorts of fun and interesting goods – there’s a shop dedicated entirely to Christmas decorations, and another that sells fleur de lis themed items. There’s even a Harley Davidson retailer.
Where to eat in French Market, New Orleans
Cafe Du Monde: This coffee shop, which sells beignets and hot drinks out of a window to crowds of clamoring guests, has become a full blown phenomena. If you’re visiting New Orleans, you probably already know to head straight to this spot for a bag of fluffy pastries dusted with powdered sugar and a cup of coffee. Sit under the green and white striped awning on the open air patio for the full experience.
Cafe Du Monde: 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Gazebo Cafe: Enjoy live jazz while sitting under the covered patio at this cafe. Home of the famous ice cream daiquiri, this dessert-like alcoholic drink is the reason to stop by. Try the Grasshopper – vodka, créme de menthe, créme de cacao ,Hersheys choc syrup & ice cream – or the Banana Split – banana rum, strawberry syrup, strawberries, banana syrup, banana, pineapple, Hersheys choc syrup and ice cream.
Gazebo Cafe: 1018 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Loretta’s Pralines: Another spot in the market to grab beignets, this shop sells chocolate and jam filled varieties as well as egg, sausage, and cheese sandwich on a beignet. Another savory option is the fried shrimp and catfish. However, Loretta’s is most well known for Praline cookies and king cakes which can be taken to go.
Loretta’s Pralines: 13 French Market Pl, New Orleans, LA 70116
J’s Seafood Dock: Seafood presented in a variety of intriguing presentations is the speciality at this no fuss stall in French Market. Fresh oysters are shucked right in front you, or can be ordered charbroiled. Crawfish can be boiled, or served in beignets. Crawfish tails, crab claws, shrimp, and jambalaya are among past patrons favorites.
J’s Seafood Dock: 1100 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Where to shop in French Market
Belle Louisiane: Pick up a gift to take back home at Belle Louisiane – especially if you have a cook in your life. The shop stocks every kind of Cajun and Creole seasoning imaginable. Stacks of specialty canned coffees, and all sorts of art – from posters to fridge magnets and postcards to framed photography – is available for purchase.
Belle Louisiane: 832 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Evans Creole Candy Factory: The speciality at this confectionary, established in 1900, is hand dipped chocolates and pralines. But the goods don’t stop there: Indulge your sweet tooth in house-made fudge and candied pecans.
Evans Creole Candy Factory: 848 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Dutch Alley Artists Co-Op: Located within the Dutch Alley promenade, this open air artist-owned gallery is open seven days a week and features the work of 25 local artists. Jewelry, paintings, prints, and many other different types of mixed media artworks are for sale. All the artists work in the gallery, so you can meet them in person.
Dutch Alley Artists Co-Op: 912 North Peters Street, Dutch Aly, New Orleans, LA 70116
Latin’s Hand: This shop showcasing Latin American craftsmanship has been operating in the French Market for more than 30 years. Latin hand sources goods from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil. Visitors will find a wide selection of backpacks, hats, and hammocks.
Latin’s Hand: 1025 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Where to stay in New Orleans
These highly rated hotels in New Orleans are located in highly walkable neighborhoods and are close to bars and restaurants. With luxury amenities like claw foot bathtubs and rooftop bars, these hotels are comfortable and stylish stays. Here’s where to book a room.
We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
The Pontchartrain Hotel
Just a short street car ride from the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods, this hotel is the walkable, charming Garden District. The decadent rooms are outfitted with teal carpets, floral lounge chairs and curtains, and velvet chaise lounges. There are four restaurants within the hotel, including a rooftop bar.
Price: From $183 per night
W New Orleans
This luxury hotel in the French Quarter was once a tobacco warehouse in the 19th century. Exposed brick details, stylish furnishings, and large windows add to the hotel’s appealing design but what will really draw people here is the amenities: The courtyard, a rooftop bar and pool, and cozy library room and lounge space.
Price: From $169 per night
Auld Sweet Olive Bed and Breakfast
This historic inn in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood has a cozy feel. Furnished with a mix of antiques like brick walls, original fireplaces, or clawfoot tubs, that add to its charm, there are only four rooms at this bed and breakfast, adding to its secluded feel. The residential neighborhood where the inn is located might be quiet, but it’s just a short walk from the excitement of the French Quarter.
Price: From $143 per night