10 Ways to be Safe in the French Quarter

Man on a bicycle in the French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

 

UPDATE — This blog is two years old. Since writing it, a lot of improvements have been made in policing the area. I’m still happy to answer questions, but keep in mind, I do not have the free time (I am a full-time author, a contractor in the middle of a huge project, and a grandmother) to list all of the attractions / places to see / things to do. There are great tour sites and constant activities listed in the paper (NOLA.COM). There are free magazines / papers here updated each week with a huge smorgasbord of opportunities for entertainment. (These are available in nearly every hotel and restaurant, for free.) I hope to have more updates for you, like favorite places to stay / eat / sightsee, but they will have to wait ’til I have the huge project completed (a big building in the Quarter). There are a lot of answers in the comments section which tend to be general enough to apply to most of you, so check there, too.

 

 

This is a perennial list. As I’m writing this, it’s spring, 2014, and we’re about to run headlong into French Quarter Fest (my favorite festival here), and then Jazz Fest (also awesome). We just came out of Mardi Gras, and there are multiple smaller festivals nearly every weekend. Add in big games (the SAINTS and the Pelicans), and various big-league music acts, and the French Quarter, where I live, stays hopping year round.

And every single year, I see the occasional tourist falling victim to various crimes and accidents that they probably could have prevented. Not everything is preventable, but many are, with a little attention.

Keep in mind, we’ve lived here in the Quarter over three years, and we’ve never been a victim. Most people aren’t. Here’s how not to be:

10 WAYS TO BE SAFE IN THE FRENCH QUARTER

Please feel free to share if you know someone traveling here. (Honestly, these are probably great for any big city, but it’s specific to the French Quarter in New Orleans.)

1) Buddy system. We tell this to our kids when they’re on field trips, and we forget that we need it, too, when we’re in a strange place. I cannot emphasize this enough–always have someone with you when you’re out and about. If you absolutely must go out on your own, make sure someone is aware of where you’re going and when you should return. Especially if you’re planning to drink somewhere.

I was standing in the cop shop (visiting a cop friend) (334 ROYAL STREET — phone 504-658-6080) last year when a very embarrassed man came in. He was well-dressed, and seasoned, and he’d fallen prey to two local scam artists who pretended to be tourists, like him. They were drinking, and he didn’t realize it, but someone slipped something in his drink. He vaguely remembers them leading him over to the ATM, where he happily got out a few hundred more dollars to spend. He woke up without his wallet, not sure where he was (he was in a lobby, and not the hotel where he’d been staying), and his room had been cleaned out of his computer and valuables.

This is common. The bars on Bourbon are the particular playground of thieves like this, so stay with buddies, and have someone always always ALWAYS pay attention to any open drinks you have with your group.

2) The French Quarter is NOT Disneyland for adults where all of the streets are for pedestrian traffic only. It may seem like it, especially on Bourbon St., but don’t walk down the middle of the street, or step out to take a photo, without first making sure that the street is blocked to traffic at that time of day. If it’s NOT blocked, then look for oncoming traffic. If there is none, feel free to take your shot. If you’re taking multiple shots, and someone pulls up, step aside, let them go by, and then step out again. I promise you, the buildings won’t move in the few minutes you’re being gracious.

Only TWO streets are routinely blocked to vehicle traffic, and those are ROYAL (from Talouse, I think, all the way to Bienville) DURING THE DAY–to 4:30, and then BOURBON STREET from about 5:00 onward into the night. That means that all of those other streets are there for the locals, the delivery guys, and the drunken tourists to travel on, and they are not always paying attention. Particularly the drunken tourists. We locals try really hard to be patient and to let you cross, but if you see someone who’s been blocked in by people crossing for several minutes, please be kind and let them through. Some of them may have urgent things going on in their lives, too.

There are occasions when other streets are blocked, too, particularly from construction. There’s a lot of construction going on in the Quarter right now as it’s rebounding from after Katrina. This is great news, and we locals are used to it, but it can make navigating in and out a little crazy. That’s our issue to deal with, not yours, but it’s nice when you’re aware–it’ll keep you safe when you know to stay on the sidewalk instead of stepping out and around that giant man-lift that I can’t see around. If I hit you when I’m going five miles an hour and you’re walking, I’m pretty sure you’re going to feel it more than me.

3) Wear flats, or very comfortable shoes when you’re out and about. One of the “new” crimes is guys running by really fast, aiming at the woman in the high heels, knocking her down, grabbing her purse or phone (or both) and continuing to run. They don’t care, they know you can’t catch them, and if you’re in high heels and the other people around you are in flats, you’re going to be the target. If you’re dressing up to go to dinner and want to wear heels, then go in a group and pay attention to what’s going on around you. It’s not like this is happening every day, everywhere, but it does happen. Don’t be the one it happens to because you’re tipsy, happy, waving your phone around while trying to stay balanced on your high heels on our slate (UNEVEN AND SOMETIMES WOBBLY) sidewalks.

4) LEAVE THE BLING AT HOME. Seriously. I know you’re going to want to dress up for something, some event, and fine, if you just feel like you absolutely have to wear your bling, by all means. But I’m telling you right now, you will be making yourself a target. I was walking down Chartres in a fairly safe area, when a pack of boys were eyeing a tourist who came out of K-Paul’s restaurant–which is directly across from the back of the Supreme Court building–because she had on some serious bling. And she was in heels. They were easing over toward her, and I could hear them planning. Luckily for the woman, I saw a cop, motioned him over and pointed out what was going on, and the boys, knowing they’d been seen, dispersed. I happen to be pretty pro-active here, as are most locals, but if you’re just determined to mark yourself as a target, there’s not a lot we can do about it. If you do bring it, obviously, there are safes in most of the hotel rooms. These are not 100% guaranteed, so if you have something valuable, put them in the hotel’s safe. (I cannot vouch for every hotel in the Quarter, but a lot of them have a bigger safe somewhere near check-in.)

5) Cameras / purses. Please. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Have a strap on these, and have it either wound around your wrist (phone, small camera), or a long strap where you can wear it diagonally across your body. And if you think wearing it on one shoulder and holding onto it tightly will do you a lot of good, see the “drive-by runners” above, and then go google purse-snatching in the French Quarter. There’s some security video up online showing a few purse snatchers in action. Nine times out of ten, the thieves target someone alone who’s focused on what they’re doing (taking photos, scrolling on their phone), i.e., not paying attention to their surroundings. The thieves will come up on your blind side, grab the purse and yank forward. Even if you have a good grip, it’s going to extend your arm outward, trying to hold onto that purse. One good elbow chop to your arm, and your grasp is broken and they’re off and running. Strap it across your body, they don’t bother trying to get it.

Edited to add: Grabbing iPhones out of the hands of tourists happens frequently, because people constantly check their phones. Most people will stand on the sidewalk, facing out (the street), while looking at the phone. I don’t know why. If you’re going to do more than glance at the time–if you’re looking down at it and scrolling, step closer to the wall of the building and turn so that the phone can’t be easily grabbed by someone running past. It’s harder for them to run on the sidewalk, too many people to weave through, so you’ll have a little protection. [Best case? Step inside somewhere if you are looking up something. Much harder to snatch and run.]

Edited to add: pickpockets will bump into you in some fashion. If you’re carrying your wallet, don’t let it hang half-way out of your pocket. If the Quarter is crowded, people are going to naturally bump into you, and that’s what the pickpockets thrive on–they know you’ll get used to being bumped into, which makes it that much easier to pull your wallet.

6) MAPS. There are free maps in several of the tour booking places. Most hotel concierges will give you a free map (and they don’t ask if you’re staying there–they don’t care). Know where you’re going before you walk out of the hotel. Most concierges are happy to tell you where to go to get to what you want. Most of us locals will be happy to help. Don’t see anyone local? Go inside a shop or restaurant and ask–they’re happy to help. We thrive on tourists. We want you to have a good time. You wandering around looking for something, getting blisters while you do, is bad for business. We want you happy. ASK. This will keep you from wandering off into an area that’s sketchy and dangerous.

Also – there are quite a few phenomenal APPS out there, for all phones, which give detailed information about what’s in the Quarter, where it is, what they have/serve/sell, their hours, and consumer ratings. I’d strongly advise you getting one or two of these ahead of time and start familiarizing yourself with what’s here. And keep in mind, people go out of business here at an alarming rate. That cute little dress shop someone once shopped at may no longer be there. Check online before you hike across the Quarter.

I would not recommend walking on Burgundy or Rampart at night. For any reason. It’s fine by day (in a group), but it is absolutely not fine by night. Even though there is another cop shop on Rampart. Trust me on this.

7) Do not take a ride from anyone. If you know me? I’m safe. I honestly cannot vouch for anyone else. I know of one girl who went missing right on Bourbon; her friends thought she’d gotten into a cab when she got into a car that stopped for her, but it wasn’t an official cab (these are CLEARLY marked), and she has never been found. Have any hotel doorman signal you a cab, if you aren’t sure. There are several prominent locations in the Quarter with cabbies in line–it’s easy to find them, and the official cabs are pretty obvious. There are also bicycle cabs (Pedi-Cabs) here now. I know the owner, and he screens the employees, so these are pretty safe. (They charge $2 per person in the cab, per block, even if you’re sharing.) They’re all over the Quarter, and if you’re tired of walking, they’re a great option.

8) Do not engage with the panhandlers. The panhandlers are not the same thing as the performers or the artists–the latter are working for the money you give. They’re entertainment, and NOLA has a long history of some fine fine people who performed first (or for a long time) in the Quarter. However, there are quite a few panhandlers who’ll roam around the Quarter, running scams. Some of them, I’ve seen here for years. Some of them have apartments in my  building. Our apartments are nowhere near cheap. That should tell you something right there.

The panhandlers want to start a conversation with you, in some way, to get you to feel sorry for them, and give them money. They will tell you all sorts of stories. I was in line once when a woman (dressed in a sari) walked up and down the line, telling how her husband had abandoned her, left her with nothing, and she didn’t know what she was going to do. She just needed enough money to get her and her kids back to Florida, where her parents lived. People gave her money. (Not me. I am a cynic.) The next day, I saw the same woman, dressed in ragged jeans, telling a similar story at a different location. The details were close, but not identical. Same woman (she had a distinguishing mark on her face). I mentioned to her that I had seen her the day before, and unless she wanted to explain her con to the cops, she needed to leave the people alone.

There are several cons–the woman who sits near the Montelone, who has a sign out by day that she’s homeless, and has (and this changes) four kids. By night, she puts up a “read your fortune” kind of sign. There are the guys who share a puppy. I don’t know where they get the puppies, or the dogs, and I’ve seen the same dog often with different members of a group. They’ll send someone out to make rounds, someone who’s asking for help to feed their dog, and then when it dries up for that person, another one takes the next shift. I’ve watched a pregnant girl hand off her purse and nice shoes to a friend, and then go beg on the corner for a while, then re-join her friend, put her (Coach) purse and shoes back on and go spend the money. Please don’t be susceptible to the cons.

Keep in mind there are charities for the homeless right here in the Quarter. There’s St. Jude’s (on Rampart), which feeds quite a lot of people every day, and then there’s another place a block or so away from that where the homeless can bunk for the night. There’s a police van which rides around and will pick them up, help them, get them to a place for the night, or get them food. I’ve met the police officer in charge of helping the homeless, and you won’t find someone with a bigger heart. If you want to help, God bless you, and I mean that, but I’d ask you to consider giving directly to St. Jude’s or to the police officer in charge of helping the homeless. You will know that your money will go to actually help, and not to alcohol or drugs. [I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen someone give money to a panhandler, who then goes one street block up or over and buys drugs. Happens so frequently, it’s sad.]

If you hand them money, you’re marking yourself as a target. If they see you with a wallet, see other cash in it, they will call a friend stationed a block away to look for you. If they stop you with a “I’ll bet I can tell you where you got your shoes?” — and you take that bet, you’re going to lose, because the answer is, “You got ’em on your feet!”

If you see someone passed out (tourist or homeless), call the cops–they will tend to that person (usually pretty quickly).

9) If you feel slightly uneasy with someone, listen to your instincts. If you don’t like someone’s attention, and you’re in a restaurant or bar, tell the manager. They’re used to handling this sort of situation. Most of the places in the Quarter are safe. Truly. The majority of the people who are here will be happy to help. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for that help. We’d rather get you where you need to go, safely, than you feel scared or threatened.

10) There are cops everywhere here, especially on Bourbon St. at night. There are doormen, security guards, etc., if you cannot find a cop, and now there are civilian cameras all over the Quarter. The French Quarter Security Task Force (of which I am a member) has created a network of these civilian cameras to assist the police in apprehending anyone committing a crime. Where we used to have to rely on only a couple of hundred police cameras, we now have more than a thousand private cameras. We have better lighting, we have better patrols, we’re improving situations where there used to be easy places for drugs to be sold–that’s all changing fast. Overall, it’s actually fairly safe here, but if you have trouble, report it immediately. Pay attention to what the perpetrator looks like, pay attention to your surroundings, and report it immediately.

 

I’m going to have a local’s viewpoint on where to eat and shop

as well as things to see and do, all in the next few weeks.

 

Published by

Toni

Don't forget to sign up for Toni's newsletter! That way you won't miss a thing. Just click HERE

94 thoughts on “10 Ways to be Safe in the French Quarter”

  1. Thirty years ago some kid tried to con my husband and I with that shoe scam. My husband told him to beat it. I felt we should pay up we didn’t. Can’t believe how old that scam is!

  2. I just got back from a 7 day visit to NOLA. My 1st visit. a ‘family’ trip…stepdaughter, her mother (my newest best friend) and our sin-in-law (a karate master/boyfriend of 14 years). felt very safe with 6′, 200#, black belt body guard. did get the ‘bet I can tell you where you got your shoes’ bit. Jeff didn’t fall for it. I didn’t get it until you explained it here. I am blonde, over 60 & menopausal…my middle name could be Pollyanna…they all watch out for me.
    it is a fantastic place to visit. we stayed in a bohemian shotgun, 9th ward/bywater area. walked into the quarter daily. ate dinner after 8:30 every evening in the neighborhood. outrageous good. I want to go back every year. I missed so much because it was overwhelming. we were there for jazz fest. all I wanted to do is listen to zydeco, sip strong coffee and eat beignets (done once, day before we left) :o{

    I’m looking forward to your ‘what to see & where to eat’ suggestions.

  3. We just got back from the French Quarter. Great vacation. You’ve got great tips. We are from Chicago, so we know how to protect our purses and wallets, but I couldn’t believe the number of tourists who broke all of your rules listed above. We didn’t give money to anyone (again, from Chicago so we know what they really do with it), but thanks for the info about St. Jude. I will definitely make a donation.

  4. Yup… I was targeted one Mardi Gras by a group of boys. And I was with a boyfriend and another girl, plus the boys were Young! We got away, but that taught me a lesson – stay in the safe, well lighted, well traffic’ed zones.
    I’m passing this along to my friends who have never been to the quarter and need some tips. Thanks! And love your photography!

  5. Pamela, I’m so glad you got safely away! (And that your comment got caught in moderation. Yikes.)

    And thank you (re: photography)

  6. Thanks for some great tips! I am traveling alone and will be staying at an Inn on street that connects to N. Rampart and Burgundy in the French Quarter. I don’t plan to be out late drinking, but I would like to go out to dinner after the sun has set! Your comment about not walking Rampart or Burgundy at night scared me a bit. Should I be taking a cab back at night after dinner?

  7. Kate, yes, in that area, please take a cab. You might be fine without one, but I really would err on the side of being careful. The state police have beefed up patrols on the weekends, but they tend to stay in and around Bourbon and Royal–Burgundy’s only two blocks off Bourbon, but with much less foot traffic, much much less car traffic, so it’s a little riskier.

    Let me put it this way: I live here and I wouldn’t walk there alone. Especially after dark. I know a lot of men who wouldn’t, either.

  8. We ‘re two older women who stay at a hotel on Chartres Street for Jazz Fest and during daylight hours have always walked from the French Market and even though it’s just a couple of blocks up from the end of the French Market, and one block over, it’s mostly residential. Is this something we maybe should not do?

  9. Did not want to publically post the name of the hotel so please don’t, but it’s Le Richelieu. We’ve always been happy there for the two weeks we stay for Jazz Fest. Planned to return for out next Jazz Fest although it’s not going to be this year unfortunately.

  10. Loved your insight on staying safe. My husband and I are planning our first visit in February for the weekend before Mardi Gras. Staying at a private rental on Royal in the 1000 block. How is that area for crime? being from Ca. I’m so used to traveling by car, but we won’t have parking available nearby. Is it safe to rent bikes? I heard that the pedicabs are cool, but also recently have become known as mobile ATM’s to thugs. I’m a 50 something who has worked in some sketchy areas of los Angeles, but NOLA seems to have a brazen bunch of creeps. Is pepperspray allowed? LOL
    I also have a nice pro camera and planned on shooting some epic photos. Any hints? Should I buy a cut proof strap? okay, lots of questions, I know. But nice to ask a real local.

  11. Vicki, Le Richelieu is great, and walking to and from the French Market during the daytime should be fine. As always, just pay attention to your surrounding. If you’re walking with a purse, make sure it has a long strap and you wear it across your body. (They can’t yank it from you, and you won’t look like a good target.

    And really, it’s not the wild west here. up around Chartres and the French Market, it’s much much safer than out on the fringes where there are less people and less cops. Most of the thefts and things that I know about happen in the wee hours of the morning, and often when people have been drinking and aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.

    (Sorry it took a couple of days to respond–you got trapped in my pending folder and I didn’t see it ’til today.)

  12. I carry pepperspray when I’m out and about, and I’m 52, and pretty aware of my surroundings. I’ve never had a bad experience, but then, I have been told I have a real killer expression that tends to warn anyone about to mess with me that I am not going to be an easy target.

    Royal in the 1000 block is generally pretty good, but in the wee hours of the mornings, I’ve had residents tell me that there are some sketchy things going on a few months ago, so just be aware. The cops and the new task force, though, have been made aware and have stepped up patrols, and really, there are a lot of residents who are trying to look out for people.

    Do get a cut-proof strap. I have one, and I have had a couple of times where I was out very early to get sunrise shots and had a couple of homeless guys eyeing the camera, sort of weighing whether it was worth the effort. I had my husband meeting me, and he showed up about that time and they wandered off. Nine times out of ten, if not more often, just being with someone else is enough of a deterrent.

    Epic shots — you’ll have to go out really early to get the epic shots without a lot of other people around — the Cathedral, of course, from across the street on the amphitheater steps is a great one, but out on the Riverwalk, getting the sunrise over the river, especially if the steamboat is in dock is another one. Really, the whole Quarter has wonderful opportunities… and don’t neglect trying angles up high from either your hotel rooftop terrace, if they have one, or one of the taller parking garages over by Canal Blvd. Good luck!

  13. This could be a great city! Great cities enjoy allow mothers and daughters to walk safely after dark without harassment by street people. You simply can not expect people to come here, spend money at your businesses without doing something about the street people. I would recommend NYC, SFO, BOS, AMS, LON and many other great places, but not MSY. Take a cab to the great rest., but don’t walk these streets.

  14. Well, I honestly have to disagree with you. I’ve been to NYC, SF, and several other huge American cities, and they all struggle with the homeless. New Orleans is the first city in America to find housing for all of its homeless veterans, so it’s working hard on the issue. Also, we’re in the south, with less harsh winters, so it’s natural for someone who is homeless to gravitate this direction. And frankly, I do not think the majority of the crime issue that we’ve seen here is perpetrated by the homeless. Statistically — and my husband and I are on the Crime Task Force — the issue is more to do with young punks looking for drug money or people who are just petty thieves. When there’s a crime issue, that is.

    This is a city. Pretty much any city is going to have areas that have crime. Most of that crime does not happen in the French Quarter and tourist areas because those have a heavier police presence. Even so, I want people to remember that this isn’t Disneyland, and to be aware of their surroundings. I have found that the majority of the people who get into a bad situation simply forgot basic safety rules, like walking in groups at night, paying attention to where you’re walking and what’s going on around you, paying attention to your own possessions, etc. The vast majority of the tourists who come here — and that’s millions — don’t suffer anything worse than a hangover.

  15. I am going Alone to Mardigras next week. I am staying at Holiday Inn at Poydras and Rampart.
    I am concerned for my safty. Is it safe to walk from burbon st to my Hotel at night? Are Burgandy and Rampart safe to walk in the day time?

  16. Thanks for the tips!! Coming in May 2015 with my Mom, brother & sister-in-law for Jazz Fest and touristing. We’re staying on Dauphine Street so should be OK going toward the FQ at any time – just don’t go the other way at night?

    Beautiful photos!! Do you have a physical gallery also?

    Can’t wait for your coming locals viewpoint on eating, shopping & things to see and do!!

  17. Thanks, Kim! I don’t have the physical gallery set up, yet, but it should be set up roughly summer of next year.

    And yes, Dauphine is fairly safe (but still, be careful late at night). You’re in the French Quarter there, and heading toward Bourbon (one street over) and elsewhere is relatively safe.

    I need to get on that local’s viewpoint of where to eat and shop. I completely forgot about that. oops. 😉

  18. Larry, in my (and my husband’s) opinion, if you’re wanting to walk to Bourbon from your hotel there at Poydras and Rampart, I’d recommend you walk up Poydras to Corondolet and turn left… when Corondolet crosses Canal, it becomes Bourbon. I think that route will be the most populated, and therefore, the safest.

  19. I am going to NOLA next week with a friend and we are staying at the ihsp french quarter house on N. Rampart. Is it safe to walk back from Bourbon St. at night? We are completely unfamiliar with the area!

  20. Thanks for the great tips, Toni! I’m going with my husband and a couple of friends in May. We’d been looking at staying in the French Quarter so we could walk to everything. But a friend from New Orleans recommended not staying in the Quarter at all (for safety), but the Warehouse District instead. I’m on the fence, as we were hoping to not need a rental car or cab ride to get around … What would you say?

  21. My sister and I will be in new Orleans if or a couple of days in march. I usually book riverside but couldn’t get it this trip. Would it be safe to walk from Harrah’s casino to Hilton garden inn off convention center blv. I think it is on s. peters.

  22. Linda, that should be more than fine–it’s pretty well patrolled in that area, and a very busy area. Just keep the common sense things in mind–don’t wear bling, keep your cell phones in your pocket unless you need them and if they’re out, pay attention to your surroundings. I was walking along Bienville near Royal a couple of days ago and there four no less than four iPhones I could have easily snatched if I’d been running — people just were oblivious.

    There are a lot more cops in the area on the weekends now. We still have the state police, and there’s a private task force which, along with all of the business owners in and around the Quarter, have hired some off-duty cops for additional eyes and feet on the ground, patrolling and handling non-emergency problems so that the on duty cops can stay focused on safety. It seems to be helping.

  23. Jodi, personally, I think the Quarter is much safer than the Warehouse district — see the answer to Linda above for the reasons. We have more patrols here, more people milling around. The real issues generally come in to play when people have been drinking too much and they forget to pay attention to their surroundings… the criminal element will take advantage of that, every time. Or people think of the Quarter as a sort of Disney World for adults and forget to use basic common sense, like not walking alone in a dark area. I think if you simply pay attention, you’ll be just as safe–if not safer–here in the Quarter.

    I love it here, for what it’s worth. I walk through here by myself, all the time. I’m always alert, though, and I don’t wear fancy jewelry or have my phone out (or carry a purse), so I’m just not as interesting a target. If I carry a purse, I put the strap across my body (and the same with my camera), and I haven’t been even remotely bothered.

  24. Johnna, I’m sorry I missed your question — I hope you had a wonderful time! How did you feel about the area, once you stayed there?

  25. These are great tips Toni, thanks for posting and for answering questions.
    Your advice to not walk on Rampart worries me, as I have booked the Best Western at 920 North Rampart Street (near St Philip St). Do you think I should change hotels?

  26. Personally? Yes. I’ll tell you that there’s a wonderful Martini bar, nice place, right on Rampart, not far from that hotel, and the manager and I had a long conversation one evening. I asked him about this very subject, since he’s there every night and knows the area well. He said he wouldn’t walk it. His clientele have valet parking, so they can drop off right in front of his place. I know some pretty tough guys who will call a cab if they leave a bar in that area after dark.

    Ramport is a four-lane thoroughfare — it’s easy for people to get in, commit a crime, and get back out again. It borders the Quarter, but isn’t technically ~in~ the Quarter, and even though there’s a police station *on* Rampart, it’s still a high crime area.

    I’m happy to help and answer questions. I’m thrilled this column has been of service to those of you traveling in.

  27. I probably should have said this first — I mean during the day. Let’s say walking from Rampart St down St Phillip St and then wandering around the quarter and along the river. After dark, I would take a cab to/from anywhere I was going. I am 53, city savvy, will have no bling and no phone, bag worn across my body (camera too, though it’s not very comfortable that way). I will be on my own.

    Also, is the St Charles Streetcar safe? I’d like to do a walking tour (organised group) of the Garden District and had planned to take the streetcar from the quarter to the meeting point.

    Thank you again! It’s great to be able to ask questions like this of a local. 🙂

  28. Karen, you’ll be fine during the day–especially if you’re “city savvy” and know how to be aware. Even so, I have seen a couple of videos from last summer where women walking alone in the daytime were robbed of their purses… but that was always when they were carrying it on their shoulder or holding it (because they’d just dug something out of it). Walking all through the Quarter, to the river, etc., should be more than fine during the day.

    The St. Charles Streetcar if pretty safe–loads of people use it, it’s easy, cheap, and fun to ride. I think you’ll do fine on that. (Btw, they are extending the Streetcar line down Rampart all the way far past the Quarter. It’s going to be another line to help reduce downtown traffic. You’ll see the median in front of the Best Western is dug up, which may be inconvenient now, but when the construction is done next fall (I think), it’s going to make getting around the Quarter, to the CBD and Uptown far far easier for many people.

    Hope you have a wonderful trip! Yell if you have any more questions, and I’ll do my best.

  29. Toni,

    We’ll be arriving from the East Coast on the Amtrak Crescent around 7:30pm and since we are big fans of public transportation we were hoping to take the 49-Loyola UPT street car from the Amtrak station to the corner of Canal and Bourbon and walk from there to our hotel on the 500 block of Bourbon St. We will have some small carry-on style luggage and backpacks. Does this sounds like a safe plan or should we just take a cab?

    Much thanks!

  30. Kamil, you should be more than fine along that route. I’m assuming you’re arriving in the day time, but even at night, that would be a good plan.

    It’s not very far from the train station to that part of Bourbon. If for some reason it’s storming (like it has been this week), a cab would probably be much much better for you at that point. When it rains here, it can look like it’s just going to be a light rain and then drench you ten minutes later. Otherwise, on clear days, you’ll enjoy the scenery with your plan.

  31. Hi Toni

    I’m travelling to NOL from NZ with my boyfriend in May and we are tossing up between the IHSP Hostel (North Rampart in the French Quarter) and the NOLA Jazz House (Canal St, Downtown – seems to be a bit of a walk but there is a streetcar right outside). Which would you recommend out of these two? Or neither? We are on a budget.

    Thanks!

  32. Zoe, neither of those would be my recommendation — but first, may I ask you to give me a ballpark budget of what you want to spend on hotels, and the dates you’re coming? If you’re coming during Jazz Fest, the hotel rooms are super booked and those that are left are able to get premium pricing. If you’re coming right after, though, you can get much much better deals. Also, if you give me a budget, I might know of some better ones that I can refer you to. (Maybe. Fingers crossed.)

  33. Thanks for the speedy reply! We are coming from 26th May – 29th May (Tues to Fri) and are hoping to spend around $90 US (absolute maximum) between us per night. Most of the hostels seem to have private rooms that fit our budget but they don’t seem to be in the safest areas. We are happy to taxi around at night time but want to feel safe walking around / to and from the FQ during the day. Any suggestions would be fantastic! Thanks.

  34. Zoe, I sent you a reply email, but just in case you see this first, try hotels.com and specify the Warehouse / Central Business District. I had to scroll a bit and found one for the Andrew Jackson Hotel on Royal in the Quarter — really nice little place, for about $76 USD. I think there was only one room left at that rate today (3/16/15) as I’m posting this, but keep scrolling through the options and checking back. And yes, it’s odd that they included that hotel which is in the Quarter and not the Warehouse / CBD… but they’re adjacent to each other (The CBD=Central Business District) and the Quarter.

  35. Toni, after a friend recommended, we have booked to stay at the Grenoble House. We have never stayed there or in that area. We have been a couple of times, but have stayed Garden District and Warehouse District. After reading your comments regarding Rampart and Burgundy, it worries me a little. It is on Dauphine, but that is awful close. Should we be concerned walking back in the evening? Or even from the parking garage down the block? Great tips by the way!

  36. Michael — I’m thrilled the tips are helpful! Thanks.

    I currently live about 1 block from the hotel you’ve mentioned, and I find it pretty safe to navigate around. Now, at night, I’d have someone with me. That said, if you’re out really late at night and are walking back to the hotel, just pay attention right there where that parking lot is. The Chateau LeMoyne (one hotel down toward Canal from the Grenoble–yellow ochre paint color, if you Google Earth that street view) does keep a lot of people out on the sidewalk, watching for their own clients and generally keeping an eye on the street. That block hasn’t had a lot of problems. Bourbon is one street up.

    I walk from that area across to out construction project in the Quarter all the time. I’ve done it at night many times. I stick to the well-lit routes, avoid Bourbon like a plague (grin), and I stay very aware. Keep the bling at home, pay attention to purses and phones, and always have at least one person sober walking with you if y’all are out partying late. (grin)

    Y’all have fun!

    (btw, I also highly recommend the Chateau LeMoyne to people, too. Great little boutique hotel there that was bought out a few years ago by Holiday Inn.)

  37. I should have checked here first before booking : ) We will try that hotel next time. Thank you for the information! It’s been awhile since we have been down without kids, so we were looking forward to staying more in the Quarter for once! We decided to be touristy for the first time and are booking a walking tour, any companies you would recommend?

  38. Hmmm. You know, this is one of those things I should know, but I haven’t investigated enough. I haven’t done any of the walking tours, though, so I can’t tell you one is better than another. However, from just watching them, there are some much much better. My thoughts would be to ask your hotel concierge, but also, go to the concierges of two or three other hotels and see if there’s a consensus of opinion. The Hotel Monteleone, the Omni, the Ritz Carlton, the Hyatt at the French Quarter, and lastly but not least, the Place d’Armes. You can call these ahead of time, tell them you’re coming in to the city and want to book a tour ahead of time and see who they’d recommend. (They are not going to care or need to know you’re not staying there.) I’m thinking that you’ll get a quick sense of who’s good and who to avoid that way that is the most up-to-date information you can have.

  39. Hello,
    We are coming up very soon for a visit from Canada! We are staying at the Prince Conti Hotel. We plan on partying at night on Bourbon … would you say that is a safe walk to and from the hotel.

    Thanks!

  40. Tammy, that’s a mixed “yes” and “no”answer. Here’s the thing–that hotel is only one block from where I live. Up to midnight, or even one or two in the morning, I think you could probably walk safely the short distance from Bourbon to your hotel. However, around two in the morning is what I call the “bitching” hour… where there seems to be more arguments because people have been drinking heavily. Just last week, one block over from that hotel, there was a shooting at 5 in the morning between two men who (from police reports) knew each other, got into an argument, which escalated into a shooting, with one dead, the other hospitalized. This wasn’t a random shoot-into-the-crowd sort of thing, but drinking+tempers+guns means more danger. That said, there’s a HUGE contingent of state police in the Quarter now every weekend and many weeknights, plus more off-duty officers, so things ~feel~ calmer throughout.

    My advice is this: have at least one person in your group who is not drinking (or not drinking nearly at the same rate), because you will really need someone aware of your surroundings. 9/10ths of most trouble can be easily avoided with this one piece of advice. That, and always stay together as a group, even when it looks like it’s just a short distance back to the hotel (because it is). Make sure that if you order open drinks (not bottled), that someone in your group is always in charge of them and paying attention if some of you leave the table. I have personally witnessed a male having to report getting roofied or something put in his drink by two other people he thought were cool locals that struck up a conversation with him, and he vaguely remembered getting out his debit card to pay for something, then he vaguely remembered going to the ATM and remembered nothing after that. Woke up on the street, completely robbed.

    You will have a wonderful time, I’m sure, and there’s lots of partying on Bourbon, and lots and lots of cops. Mostly, just use some general safety common sense rules/agreements among you all so that you’re not leaving anyone behind, pay attention to the tenor of the crowds in the wee hours when tempers are dicier, and you should be fine.

  41. Thank You! We plan to have a lot of fun 🙂 We will doing all the touristy stuff…going on a swamp tour, French market…and the Aquarian. But yes, in the evening we will have some drinks and dinner….It will be a rare night if we actually make it past midnight! I have read your article thoroughly about being safe and will put those into practice. Looks like next week can be a bit rainy…but still hot. Very excited to explore.

    Thank you for your advice.

  42. Thanks for the tips Toni. Coming down from Balto the first week in May. Our second time in 3 years. Absolutely no problems last time out and we walked everywhere but never past 10 PM. Stayed at the Mazarin last time but now at Bourbon Orleans. Coming from a large eastern city we are very familiar with panhandlers and street people. A quick no thanks and keep moving seems to be enough. The place has a certain allure. It’s just so unique. Getting my wife to dress down will be a challenge though

  43. Toni,

    Just booked a last minute vacation to the area, we are a family of four – our kids are 8 and 12. We well be there 4/4 – 4/8, staying at Maison Dupuy which is just off of Rampart, a street which you have said to avoid. We will really only be out during daylight, but would like to walk around the FQ as much as we can. I’ve not read many comments on this site regarding families with kids, so wanted to hear your thoughts on the safety of a situation like this. Should i limit unnecessary strolls with family/kids? Should we take cabs as much as possible? Or are we pretty safe as long as its daylight and we stay east of Rampart? I just don’t want to put them in harm’s way.

    Really nice page you are keeping, so useful for people interested in a safe but fun visit. Thanks for all you are doing!

  44. Hello Toni,

    My husband and I just got back from our first trip from New Orleans two weeks ago. I had some reservations visiting the city after hearing (and reading) some stories about crime. But surprisingly we totally loved it! We ended up staying in a bed and breakfast place in Faubourg Marigny after an exhausting search of available hotels in FQ
    ( it was the week of FQ Music Festival ) . The area was gorgeous! We walk to and from the French Market and FQ without no problem. Somehow we get acquainted with the city by doing our own walk and trips. Everyday we plan (and plot) places and streets to venture.

    We are going back this December. This time we have booked in another BB inn in Marais St. just a block north of St. Claude bordering Faubourg Marigny. This is near the Now reading your current posts, have we gotten the worst spot this time? Is Rampart St., St. Claude, Esplanade and Elysian Fields the worst streets to walk and should be totally avoided?

    This concerns me now since these are the major intersections and streets we have to walk going to FQ and Frenchmen Street. In the Fauborg Marigny we crossed Esplanade and Elysian Fields a couple of blocks near the water. This time we are in the border of Faubourg Marigny and 9th Ward ( or Bywater as some would call it) across the St. Roch Tavern.

    What is your take on this? I would like to hear it from a local like you. You sure provide the best insight.

    SD

  45. Hi Sara! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the FQ Fest and getting to know our city, and that you had such a safe and wonderful time.

    In my opinion, that area that you mentioned is one of the most crime-ridden areas to walk in, specifically at night. It you’re walking in the broad daylight, you’re safer than at night, and if you’re walking as a group (two or more), you’re safer, but I definitely would be concerned for late evening / dusk / night walking in that area. And, since the days are so much shorter in December, it’s going to be more of an issue.

    The French Quarter has added a bunch of off-duty (paid) officers to patrol to help out (funded by the local businesses). This has been helping tremendously… but their patrol area doesn’t quite reach over in the 9th Ward / Bywater area, so just beware of that if you keep that hotel.

    Personally, I’d watch Hotels.com because there are several small B&Bs and tiny micro-hotels right in the Quarter who offer discounts, especially for that time of year (which is typically our slowest). I’ve searched and found normally $200 / night rooms for far far less. It’s just a matter of searching and patience.

    Even if you keep the hotel you’re in, just make a plan to take a cab over there if you’re out late. I think, though, that if you research, you might find something closer in and safer.

  46. Argh, Joe, I’m sorry — I didn’t realize this got caught in the spam folder until just now. I hope you had a wonderful time and were safe! Thank you for the compliments. Much appreciated!

  47. Hi Toni,

    We’re staying at the Le Pavillon on May 19th. Will we be okay walking to the FQ from there during the day or better off taking a cab? Or the trolley? We’re both in our 50’s so we don’t have plans to stay out late but would like to go to a couple of places for some live New Orleans Jazz/Blues for the “older” crowd. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *