Monday 16 May 2016

New Orleans French Quarter Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length 5 km (3.1 miles), terrain: flat, you're below sea level, after all!

If you've stayed in the French Quarter in New Orleans, you know how loud and raucous it is in the evenings around Bourbon Street. But, luckily, if you just get a block or two away -- or run in the mornings -- you'll get a whole new impression of the French Quarter. Suddenly, it's quieter, scenic and it offers a few untouched corners to discover.
Life is colorful in the French Quarter
And if you combine that with a bit of the waterfront and the compact downtown, you'll experience a memorable running route that you might want to repeat a few times.

This route will take you from the town's main plaza, Jackson Square, south along the riverfront, then cut through the downtown to cross the French Quarter and return to Jackson Square.

So, if you're ready to head out and discover a bit more of these fascinating neighborhoods, get yourself to the statue of Andrew Jackson on his rearing horse in the middle of Jackson Square. 
Jackson Square
This historic square was the site where the huge Louisiana Territory was turned over from France to the US in 1803. It was originally used as a military parade grounds, called Place d'Armes, and modeled after the Place des Vosges in Paris. The red-brick Pontalba buildings flanking the square were built in the 1840s, and are the oldest apartment buildings in the US.

Stand there at the statue of Andy Jackson doffing his hat, the first one worldwide that supported a horse standing on only 2 legs (I wonder what they do with it during hurricanes?). The pointy towers of St. Louis cathedral rise up behind the square to the northwest.

Turn your back on Andy and run through the square to the Mississipppi River, just a bit south of the square. Run up the steps taking you over the dike, where the old cannons stand guard, then back down to the riverfront promenade, past the train tracks.
The promenade along the Mississippi: we'll run to those last high-rises on the left!
The wide river opens up like a bay, curving away in both directions, giving the town one of its nicknames: the "Crescent City".

Turn right onto the promenade and head southwards past the Nachez riverboat dock. The ship is real steamboat, and it often puts on a good show of letting off steam, with a calliope player on the roof giving short displays of his strange art.
The Nachez setting off
The promenade now enters a wider green stretch for a few blocks, Woldenberg Park, then takes you past the aquarium.
Waterfront runner
But then your progress will be stopped by the glass walkway of the Canal Street Ferry Terminal. The ferries connect the city to the picturesque old town of Algiers Point across the river. But you can keep running south along the river for a little bit if you find the walkway that continuing southwards, to the left of the train tracks.

You're now in a big, paved square with a fountain, Spanish Plaza. Keep running south here.
Spanish Plaza
But after the plaza there is a big mall, Riverwalk. Like its name implies, there is a walkway along the water next to the building, but there is no way out at the south end, so you should turn inland here (to the right) at Poydras Street, one of the main downtown streets. Many high-rises line the street as it leads westwards, including the Hilton Hotel and the big casinos.

Run west on Poydras. But this spot is pretty busy, so take the first real left turn onto Convention Center Road to run one more block southwards.
Lafayette Street: pretty quiet here
When you get to Lafayette Street, turn right and head up this quiet, partially pedestrian, street seven blocks up to an old square, Lafayette Square. This was the heart of New Orleans' first suburb, the American Quarter.
Lafayette Square
Cross the square and then turn right to run back north through the downtown along St. Charles Avenue.

NOTE: Try heading out south on the St. Charles tram line through the Garden District and Audobon Park to see a beautifully green side of town.

Along this part of St. Charles, it looks a bit like Manhattan, with the traffic to match.
St. Charles Street
After five blocks you'll cross busy Canal Street and re-enter the French Quarter, where the street name changes to Royal Street.
Royal Street musicians at the courthouse
Now we'll just stay running north along this scenic street the whole way through the French quarter. The further north we get, the quieter and more authentic it seems. All the boisterous circus of Bourbon Street is just one block to the left, but you don't notice it here. It's full interesting shops and restaurants with their wrought-iron porches around here.
Another Royal Street scene
Artists sell their paintings in the street along St. Peter, the cross street behind the cathedral. There are more single-story buildings at the north end of Royal Street.

When you reach the tree-lined cross-street called Esplanade Avenue, you've reached the north end of the French Quarter. Turn right and run southeast for a block to Chartres Street. Turn right on Chartres to run down still another scenic French Quarter street straight back to the cathedral and Jackson Square.
St. Louis cathedral

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