New Orleans & the French Influence

French Quarter, New Orleans

Today marks the start of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest (more commonly known as Jazz Fest) that celebrates the culture of Louisiana and New Orleans. Named after the Duke of Orléans in 17th century France by members of the French Bourbon dynasty, New Orleans (La Nouvelle-Orléans in French) stands unique among all American cities: a French Creole architecture and cuisine with a unmistakable character, and in general a strong personality, all a result of a dazzling multi-cultural and multilingual heritage.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Aside from the Spanish presence, French culture has had a major and lasting influence on the city’s history since its foundation in 1718: the city plan and lots, the central square dominated by the church, faubourgs (an ancient French term for suburbs), Creole cottages, the old Convent, and the Charity Hospital.

The French quarter (Le Vieux carré in french), the oldest neighborhood, is a National Historic Landmark, with its many individual historic buildings.

Café du Monde - Decatur Street, New Orleans


Le Café du Monde, established in 1862, is known for its French-style beignets and its café au lait, blended with chicory, in the New Orleans style.

Preserving a strong affinity with France when the French were perfecting high food standards and the concept of the modern restaurant, Louisiana’s cuisine is Old World cooking, modified by local ingredients.

But the slaves of the French colonies also brought their own colorful contribution to the French classics with their use of spices and seasonings. The Acadians — or Cajuns — who came from Canada developed a more rural style of French cuisine, which also influenced Louisana’s cuisine.

Creole Food