Miracle on Decatur Street

November 01, 2019
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! One of my favorite holiday traditions is to gather my girlfriends together for a day of gift shopping in the French Market. We pride ourselves in selecting unique gifts for our family and friends while giving back to our community we love by shopping locally. The French Quarter is in our blood; in fact, our private joke is that our blood type is FQ! We shop ‘til we drop, stop for a bite and a cocktail or three, and shop some more!

We always start on our holiday list on a day that gets our festive spirits fired up--the day they light the French Market District tree adorned with fleur de lis alongside holiday entertainment and fireworks. This year, we will start on November 22nd so we can shop all day and enjoy the tree lighting from 5:30 to 6:30 that evening before dinner at Café Pontalba on Jackson Square, where we traditionally enjoy seafood platters and raw oysters. If we have any room left, we stroll across the street to Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets, a French Market tradition since 1862.

Each year, we start at the French Market’s diverse flea market with treasures from around the world. We find clothing, art, jewelry, crafts, spices, hot sauces, and souvenirs for everyone on our list. The Market, offering a local experience with carefully selected handmade artisan food, arts, and crafts, is one of our favorite places to shop.

Last year, I found some wonderful Louisiana cookbooks and a book to read to my grandchildren on Christmas Eve, Cajun Night Before Christmas, at A Tisket, A Tasket. Who doesn’t love candy during the holidays? There are five confectioners to sample for the dessert table! I selected my favorites from Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop, Southern Candymakers, The Fudgery, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, and Evans Creole Candy Factory and made a mouthwatering basket of goodies. Our favorite one stop shop is Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op, which features the original works of regional artists. We always enjoy talking to many of the artists about their craft and purchase one-of-a-kind items there. Outside the door, the calliope on the Steamboat Natchez rang out “Jingle Bells” after the red streetcar decked out in garland rattled down the tracks.

On to explore uncharted territory, we popped into Pop City to browse the locally produced clothing, art, books, and housewares. Next, we dove into N’awlins Sports for some Saints gifts for our favorite “Who Dats.” Finally, we indulged our grandchildren in The Little Toy Shop with high quality toys and collectable dolls. Santa will be bringing some special gifts this year that will be treasured for many generations! We must have looked like delighted elves when we found Merry Christmas & All That Jazz with a wide variety of ornaments and gifts. Our trees will be spectacular this year! Baby One had beautiful clothing for our youngest grandchildren, and at WhatsNew NOLA, we found fleur de lis platters and other local serving ware. We browsed wonderful fine art at Galerie Cayenne, bought a tie for my hubby and a beautiful hand-painted nightgown for my grand-daughter at Head to Toe, and found one last surprise for my hubby at A Simpler Time and made the final checkmark on our holiday shopping list.

Last year, after the tree lighting, music, fireworks, and dinner, we strolled up the ramp by Café Du Monde to the elevated plaza known as Washington Artillery Park for the amazing view of the muddy Mississippi River, Jackson Square, and St. Louis Cathedral. A lone sax player entertained on the Moonwalk promenade below as lovers strolled. We felt the cool breeze and watched the Steamboat Natchez plow through the busy waterway. We felt grateful to live in a diverse and historically rich city and vowed to return again soon to our favorite bend in the majestic Mississippi River that cradles the French Quarter.