French Market District in New Orleans
Since 1791, a market has existed on the site of the French Market in New Orleans. America’s oldest public market began as a Native American trading post on the banks of the Mississippi River. It has survived hurricanes, fires, foreign wars and political struggles. For more than two hundred years, it has been a market filled with butchers, fruit and vegetable vendors, herb and spice merchants, and handmade crafts.
NOLA’s best known landmark has evolved into a lively market place with numerous cafés and eateries offering al fresco dining, counter-top seating and take-out. It is open daily and has more than 200 vendors selling artwork, baked goods, clothing, coffee, confections, fresh produce, garden décor, handmade crafts, herbs, spices, and much more. Drop by to discover all that the French Market District has to offer.
The French Market Corporation is a non-profit organization that plays a significant role in the local economy through revenue it provides for city government and the community. The French Market District spans six city blocks and includes the Upper Pontalba residential and commercial properties. Located in the lower French Quarter, the French Market District is accessible by car, carriage ride, riverside streetcar, or by walking five blocks from Jackson Square along Decatur Street.
French Market Complimentary Walking Tours
Complimentary 40-minute tours of the French Market are offered on Monday and Wednesday. All tours are on a first come, first serve basis. Registration is required for tours conducted on Wednesdays.
French Market History and Culture – Monday 10:00 AM
French Market Music and Food – Wednesday 1:30 PM
French Market Culinary History – Wednesday 3:00 PM
Joseph Abeilard, an exceptionally talented African-American architect and builder, designed the Bazaar Market with 164 stalls in 1870. It was destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane in 1915 that also destroyed the Presbyterian Church on Lafayette Square, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church on Esplanade Avenue, and the Horticultural Hall in Audubon Park. The Bazaar Market was rebuilt as a market for retail sale of produce during the 1930 Public Works Administration renovation. It was later converted to retail shops and boutiques in the 1970s.
Jacques Tanesse designed the Butchers’ Market in 1813 to replace buildings destroyed by hurricane and fire. Since the 1860s, it has been filled with coffee stands, as well as the Butchers’ Market. It houses the French Market’s oldest tenant, Café du Monde.
As part of a significant renovation in the 1970s, the Cuisine Market was built to house several restaurants and the wholesale Seafood Market. The National Park Service and French Market Visitor Center are located in the Cuisine Market.
In 1924, the Public Belt Commission made the first effort to build a modern Farmers’ Market when it issued a study identifying the need for a produce terminal at the French Market. The Farmers’ Market was constructed over a two-year period during a rehabilitation of the French Market that began in 1937. Today, farmers from Louisiana sell directly to consumers, produce retailers and wholesalers at the market.
The Flea Market is an open-air shopper’s paradise filled with antiques, art, candles, clothing, hand-made crafts and jewelry, and much more. Located in the second shed of the Farmers’ Market, the Flea Market is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts.
The Vegetable Market was built in 1882 on a triangular plot of land bounded by Ursulines, Decatur, North Peters and St. Philip Streets. Joseph Pilié designed the market that houses restaurants and retail space.
French Market District Festivals
French Market Creole Tomato Festival – June
The French Market Creole Tomato Festival is held on the second weekend in June, when Creole tomatoes are picked. This fun annual festival is a celebration of the locally grown Creole tomato. It features live music, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, food booths and vendors, and much more. The festival is free and open to the public.
Downriver Festival – September
Held annually in September, the Downriver Festival celebrates the impact and contribution of the Mississippi River to the City of New Orleans. This free family-oriented festival features live music, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, food booths, lectures and theatrical presentations reflecting river influences. Friends of the Cabildo provide complimentary walking tours that highlight the Mississippi River and its impact on the local community.
Boo Carre Halloween and Harvest Festival – October
This full day free event includes live music, daytime trick or treating for kids in costume, a petting zoo, pumpkin carving, face painting, and a tent with hay and pumpkins for kids. The main activities occur in Dutch Alley and at the Farmers’ Market.
French Market Corporation
Daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Farmers’ and Flea Markets
Daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Articles of Interest
Making Groceries at the Old French Market
By Sally Reeves
T-Shirts by Sandra Kuhre
Sandra Kuhre, a local artist, has been designing and hand printing t-shirts and baseball caps for more than twenty-five years. Her colourful hand-printed t-shirts and caps are sold in the Flea Market at French Market Place. On your next visit to New Orleans, take a stroll through the French Market and drop by Sandra’s table to see her impressive designs. They make great souvenirs of your trip to N’AWLINS.