Once a hidden gem among locals, Frenchmen Street is now recognized as one of New Orleans’ best spots for finding live music. The sounds of jazz, reggae, and blues spill out of clubs lining the corridor making for a buzzing and vibrant atmosphere. Audiences flock to Frenchmen from all over the world to get a taste of authentic New Orleans music.
Running parallel to Elysian Fields Avenue and adjacent to Esplanade Avenue, Frenchmen Street is located away from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street and tucked between the French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods, running all the way into the residential neighborhood of Gentilly.
According to nola.com, the street “is named after a group of five French patriots — or seditionists, depending on your view — who were executed in 1769 near the river end of the street now named in their honor.” The entertainment aspect of Frenchmen Street (concentrated heavily between Esplanade Avenue and Royal Street) developed in the 1980s and has only grown in popularity in recent years as “the” spot for live music in New Orleans. Visit during daylight hours and you’ll see the historic side of Frenchmen, laden with architecture that distinguishes itself from the rest of the city.
With one trip around Frenchmen, you’re likely to hear all kinds of music. Visitors frequent clubs like Snug Harbor, The Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Blue Nile, and Café Negril for the very best in jazz music. Other clubs to bounce around to include The Maison, 30°/-90°, Bamboula’s, Three Muses, and Dragon’s Den. While most clubs are 21 and older, a few allow children and teens in until a certain time; just be sure to check with an individual club or venue ahead of time.
The Frenchmen Art Bazaar is a nighttime showcase of art from a variety of local artists. Enjoy paintings, sculpture, mixed media, and accessories like jewelry and handbags. The bazaar is a great place to find a one-of-a-kind New Orleans souvenir and opens at 7 p.m. each night. Sunday-Wednesday it wraps up at midnight while running until 1 a.m. on the weekends.
Many of the music clubs mentioned above also serve as watering holes, and some serve food as well. But you certainly won’t go hungry on Frenchmen Street. You’ll find a number of late-night eateries that are open along Frenchmen Street and in the adjacent Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. For wood-fired pizza and natural wine, check out Margot’s. Kids and the young at heart will enjoy Dat Dog for deluxe-style hot dogs. Ayu Bakehouse is a rather new spot on the block serving delicious sweet and savory pastries. Muffaletta breadstick, anyone?