It sounds counter-intuitive to visit a big city in a big rig. The challenge is where to park. French Quarter RV Resort at the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter (where else) offers the best of all worlds — secure parking in a gated community and a half-mile walk to the iconic neighborhood. Walking (or Ubering) is wise in this city where breakfast begins with a bloody Mary and adult beverages are encouraged all day long. As the t-shirt says, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start at breakfast.”
The idea of an urban RV park was new to us and so was the solid block wall surrounding the complex. Soon, though we appreciated the visual oasis created by the wall and courtyard pool /hot tub. Within hours we had memorized the gate code and gotten comfy in our 40-foot Tiffin Phaeton.
FQRV Resort is part of the post-Katrina renaissance. It was a parking lot before the hurricane and served FEMA as a temporary resident trailer drop after. By mid-2006 it had been reinvented as a 52-spot RV park. Today, 10 spots are privately owned and the park is near capacity in all but the hottest summer months.
The Big Easy is anything but easy when it comes to planning a four-day visit. That’s because so many activities are possible. And, more exist in 2018 as the vibrant city celebrates its 300th birthday.
To maintain sanity we limited our visit to one area, the French Quarter, the city’s most recognizable neighborhood. We’ll expand our vision on future trips. First time visitors have seen the area in movies and on television series like NCIS. For our crash course in the neighborhood, we met Christine Miller, owner of Two Chicks Walking Tours, under the large oak tree across from Jackson Square. Miller runs one of more than 200 tour companies in the city.
She assured us that the French Quarter is still historic, despite Hurricane Katrina’s devastation 12 years ago. The area, she showed us a map, is high ground and was spared the flooding that ravaged other neighborhoods. The wrought-iron laced buildings, she said, reach deep into the past and can’t be altered without permission from the city. They have patina of age that’s both gritty and beautiful.
We walked and talked through highlights for two hours while Christine explained French, Spanish and Catholic influences over three centuries. She told us how voodoo emerged from blending of native African religions with Catholic imperialism. She pointed out former residences of William Faulkner and of Tennessee Williams. We passed by Café Beignet (a recommendation) and passed through Southern Candymakers to sample pecan pralines.
One hundred and twenty minutes barely skimmed the surface, but we were sated with information. It was an easy walk to the RV to take a break, respond to email and befriend our neighbors and their traveling companions.
After Captain Morgan and diet Coke, dinner and new clothes, we Ubered to Frenchman Street. Christine had suggested two jazz bars there as an alternative to the better-known and more crowded Bourbon Street. She was spot on and that was before we even walked through a door.
(Note, you may need to message directions with your Uber driver as the RV Park is off the beaten path.)
In New Orleans, street musicians don’t need permits and so every corner – and sidewalks in between – is charged with sound. In Northeast Ohio we might stumble upon sole buskers, here there were full ensembles. It seems like a party might suddenly break out at any time and the police might shut down the street to make performing easier. If you’re overstimulated by sound, stay home.
I enjoyed my first Sazerac – an absinthe-spiked cocktail that originated here – while listening to Washboard Chaz Blues Trio at The Spotted Cat, a hip joint, surrounded by more of the same. On the sidewalk nearby two young men sat at manual typewriters offering to write an original poem for a few dollars.
After a few beverages, discipline disappeared and beignets were compulsory. The long lines at the iconic Café du Monde – open 24/7 — shrink during late night hours. Still wearing powdered sugar, we Ubered back “home.”
A little more wondering and wandering and we were ready to pull in the RV slides and motor across I-10 to our next destination.