New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and childrens' activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermans cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
Greece has everything the traveller needs. Awe inspiring sightseeing, miles of beaches of every kind, hundreds of islands to visit and great weather for two thirds of the year. What it also has is fabulous gastronomy. The country still suffers from a terrible reputation for poor food gained from the sub-standard fare served to tourists in mass market hotels, the ubiquitous giros, and the limited menu on offer in Greek restaurants around the world. But Greece's cuisine today is actually fresh and fabulous. Today top chefs are developing a fusion of the traditional with a modern style. This rediscovery of Greek food heritage is winning acclaim and makes Greece a real foodie destination.
Foremost exponents of the reconstruction of well-known Greek dishes are Georgianna Chiliadaki & Nikos Roussos. Owners of Funky Gourmet in Athens, they have been awarded two Michelin stars for their avant guard twist on classics such as Pastitsio (macaroni with mince) and Horiatiki (Greek salad).
Fresh local ingredients are now being celebrated by renowned chefs such as Alexandros Kardasis and Sotiris Evangelou. No mention of top Greek chefs would be complete without Michelin starred Ettore Botrini. His restaurants in Corfu, Athens and now Rhodes set the bar high. Botrini can be seen on the Greek version of 'Kitchen Nightmares' and has published many recipe books. All of these chefs and many more are ensuring that Greek's culinary tradition is preserved but also taken to another level of excellence.
Greece has always produced top quality olive oil, fruit and vegetables and of course seafood. What many people don't know is that the more mountainous regions produce a vast range of cheeses - it's not just all about feta! The meat is some of the most succulent I have ever eaten, despite the preference for serving well done in most tavernas, even today. Instead of taking these great ingredients for granted, Greek chefs are now celebrating them.
Crete has been at the forefront in the revival of traditional Greek cooking since the 1990s. It's produce is excellent due to the long growing season and the Cretan people's connection to the land. Along with other notable regions and islands, Santorini with it's fertile volcanic soil, the Peleponnese and Halkidiki with their world famous olives, there is so much variety in produce and cuisine to try in Greece.
All over Greece there are now opportunities for the foodie tourist to experience this first hand. Cookery classes, olive oil tastings, bakery demonstrations and all manner of meals are on offer. From the rustic to the very grand, you can find it all in Greece.
Celebrate the great culinary come back on a Tasteful Travel Greece tour. Get in touch to find out more.
To keep up with the demands of their passengers, airlines are now competing to offer the best wine lists in the sky.
Since carriers like BA realised in the late '70s that wine tastes different in pressurised cabins at great height than at ground level, the quality and style of wine offered changed dramatically. Softer and more fruity wines started being served and the craze for Australian wine perhaps started there. Premium wines began to be served in first class, including quality champagne, getting away from the more acidic wines of old.
Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, has spent more than $500 million to develop their wine service. At any given time there are 70 different types of wine across its network. Wines offered depend on flight path and serving the best vintages at the right time. Emirates have even bought their own warehouses in France to store wines they buy and "lay down" until the right time. You can order Dom Perignon on every flight.
On Qantas a staggering 250 different wines are served on their flights around the world and they are the third largest buyer of Australian wines. On any of their flights you can ask for a wine tasting in the galley. The tastings will be conducted by one of their specially trained flight attendants (a result of their Sommelier in the Sky programme). The service is not advertised but just ask onboard. Although not all trained as Sommeliers, all the Qantas flight attendants have been trained on their all Australian in-flight wine offering (champagne not Ozzie of course).
Singapore Airlines wine menu is excellent, not surprising since the airline's panel of experts includes Australia's first Master of Wine, Michael Hill Smith. Classic regions are selected for example a Château Loudenne claret, as well as new world standouts like New Zealand's Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. You can order a tawny port too.
Cathay Pacific has an award winning wine list which continues to wow experts and punters alike. A mixture of well established names and new classics are offered. Cathay keep their Bordeaux well-cellared and excellent vintages are available in first class.
Of course you'll get the very best in first class but business and even economy have great wine lists on airlines these days, especially on long haul. Cheers!
The world's wine market is dominated by traditional wine producing giants, France and Italy, and the new world countries of Australia and the South American continent.
However, the origin of winemaking in Europe was in Greece, long before France and Italy started producing wine and eons before the young pretenders of other continents.
Greece is a country with two types of climate, continental in the upper half with hot summers, mild spring and autumn but cold between December and March, and Mediterranean climate in the southern half and on the islands. Greek vineyards are blessed with stable climatic conditions, except during the winter snows in the North The country enjoys considerable variations of “microclimate” from vineyard to vineyard, depending on the region, that favour the development of different grape varieties and their characteristics.
Although France and Italy are the frontmen of world wine culture, it was from Greece that the Roman empire borrowed viticulture and then spread it throughout Europe.The idea of Appellation Controllee, today’s regulation of wines, first started in Greece when the name of the region was given to its wines. Wine production in Greece amounts to about 6 million hectolitres, of which most are red. Naoussa reds and world acclaimed sweet muskato such as Samos Muscat are widely exported but not produced in sufficient numbers to compete with Greece's larger neighbours.
Due to the large ex-pat population of Greeks in Germany, their wine market has known more of Greek wine over the last 20 years. Today Germany is the biggest importer of Greek wine estates like Boutari, Tsantali, Gerovasiliou, Achaia Clauss, and Kourtaki as well as some boutique producers. Aside from Germany, most of Europe have little knowledge of Greek wines outside of the trade and holidays to Greece where they may try retsina and have bad memories of the dreaded Demestika!
Nowadays Greek wine is well worth seeking out. Try travelling down the green peninsulas of Halkidiki with Tasteful Travel, through huge vineyards. Sample the luscious reds and crisp whites at Porto Carras at their state of the art winery and museum, or stop for a tour of the 120-year old E. Tsantali winery. Alternatively travel with us to Naoussa near the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Sample the red wines made from the Xinomavro grape and tour the historic Boutaris winery. Or choose from a selection of viticulture destinations where you can sample the very best of the Greek wine makers art. With so much history, Greek wines never disappoint.