Must-See French Quarter Courtyards
Photo courtesy of Hotel St. Marie
There’s no shortage of grand courtyards in the Quarter. Many of these are, obviously, located on private property, but some are open to the public. Le Monde Creole walking tour is an excellent introduction to New Orleans buildings, including some of the Quarter’s loveliest courtyards.
The following fantastic examples of indigenous New Orleans design should not be missed by travelers, especially those who are interested in art and architecture.
Prince Conti Hotel 830 Conti Street
Located between Bourbon and Dauphine Street, and across the way from iconic New Orleans restaurants like Arnaud’s and bars like French 75 and the Erin Rose, the Prince Conti is a historic gem within the city’s hotel pantheon. The courtyard is lush and green, set off by classical statuary that adds to the old school atmosphere. You can dine on Creole cuisine in the Cafe Conti, or enjoy a good drink in rarefied air in the impeccable Bombay Club.
Court of Two Sisters 613 Royal Street
This courtyard is so great they named the restaurant after it. This is one of the more romantic dining destinations in the Quarter, swathed in leafy shade and elegant ambiance. Still, the Court doesn’t dine out, as it were, on its location alone – the Creole menu and the jazz brunch are staples of the local culinary scene. The location is steeped in history – in 1726, it was the original residence of Sieur Etienne de Perier, the second French governor of colonial Louisiana, and president Zachary Taylor once resided here.
Place d’Armes Hotel 625 St Ann Street
Head just off of Jackson Square, between Royal and Chartres streets, to find the Place d’Armes and its classic courtyard. The space is offset by brick walls and shade trees that catch the breeze, which is a nice spot to be in as you sit by the pool and enjoy life. Guests can look out onto the courtyard from the rows of outdoor balconies, a historical accent that allowed the occupants of these buildings to soak up fresh air and cool breezes even in the midst of a New Orleans summer.
Pat O’Briens 718 St Peter Street
Most visitors to New Orleans have at least heard about the (in)famous Pat O’Briens Hurricane, but this iconic bar doesn’t just sling neon red cocktails. It’s also anchored by a gorgeous courtyard that is widely regarded as one of the most attractive in the Quarter. The central fountain has been the photographic background of many a happy New Orleans memory. To be fair, Pat O’Briens gets pretty lively, so you may not be focused on the outdoor architecture, but try and take a moment to appreciate the space before you order that next Hurricane.
French Market Inn 509 Decatur Street
Located about a 10 minute walk from the marketplace that gives this hotel its name, the French Market Inn’s courtyard is interesting, in that it gives off more of a brick-and-mortar sense of stately presence as opposed to a leafy green secret garden. It’s still an oasis from the street scene of the French Quarter – the muscular stone walls buttress the isolation that guests have from the noise outside, enhanced by the presence of a teal blue pool.
Beauregard-Keyes House 1113 Chartres Street
One of the most well known historic homes in the Quarter, this 1826 Center Hall classic of the genre actually boasts two outdoor spaces, although only one is a proper French Quarter courtyard. The first space is a garden that is a popular wedding destination. Ensconced by brick walls (but visible from the street if you can boost yourself and peak over the top), the garden is surrounded by low hedges and brick pathways. In the back of the house, a more spacious courtyard is simply a lovely setting for many a special New Orleans event or celebration. The house can be visited on a formal tour.
Hotel St. Marie 827 Toulouse Street
Head just off of Bourbon St to find the St. Marie, which encompasses an exemplary tropical courtyard that is romantic as all get out on sultry New Orleans evenings. Wrought iron accents, a sunset-esque color scheme, and swaying palm fronds set off a courtyard pool that feels simultaneously adjacent to and removed from the busy Quarter dining and nightlife, which is a stone’s throw away (or closer; the St. Marie is the location of Vacherie, a fine French Quarter dining destination). Guests can enjoy the setting from outdoor balconies that look down upon the pool and the surrounding courtyard space.
The Historic New Orleans Collection 533 Royal Street
It should come as no surprise that one of the city’s top historical learning institutions is also the site of a courtyard that ranks among the Quarter’s best. This relatively thin courtyard connects many of the collection’s excellent exhibition halls, and is also the location for Concerts in the Courtyard, a concert series that regularly features some of the city’s best musicians.
Hermann-Grima House 820 St Louis Street
The Hermann-Grima House is one of the most popular historical homes open to visitors to the French Quarter. At times a home for some of the city’s most prominent merchant families, today the House offers tours that provide insight into both the history and architecture of New Orleans and the French Quarter. The spacious courtyard is one of the most beautiful features of this historical home, and has been the backdrop of many a New Orleans wedding.
Cane & Table 1113 Decatur Street
The backyard at this cocktail bar is a Quarter courtyard that pretty much screams ‘tropical indulgence.’ To be fair, that characterization is aided and abetted by the Cane & Table menu, which includes a long list of tropical drinks that eschew sugar overload and instead present a slate of complex fruit concoctions. Order something with rum in it and find a spot to chill under the palms and on the pretty tiles that make up this wonderful hidden gem of New Orleans’ outdoor architecture.
American Aquatic Gardens 621 Elysian Fields Avenue
Located in Faubourg Marigny, not far from Frenchmen Street, this garden supply store doesn’t really boast a Quarter courtyard per se. But it’s display area includes an enormous gallery of the sort of accoutrement you’ll find in most French Quarter courtyards – tropical plants and tinkling water installations. This may not be a technical courtyard, but a stroll through the Aquatic Gardens will give you a sense of the aesthetics that underlay many of those spaces.
If you’re planning a stay in New Orleans, be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels.