Just steps away from the touristy glitz of Bourbon Street, New Orleans Frenchman Street is a small musical enclave where the locals hang out, playing live music seven nights a week. To get to Frenchmen Street from Bourbon Street, walk three blocks south on Esplanade.
While Bourbon Street caters to tourists and hosts many cover bands, on Frenchmen Street you’ll find bands playing original music with a local flavor-- everything from reggae to jazz to blues to Latin—both inside the clubs and outside on the street.
The liveliest section of Frenchmen Street is a two-block stretch (500-600) in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, on the edge of the French Quarter. Once a plantation, in 1806 the property was subdivided to create the neighborhood. The homes in the Faubourg Marigny area are at least 100 years old (many are much older), but the Frenchmen Street entertainment district developed organically in the 1980s, when several bars featuring live music were opened.
Frenchmen Street is located on some of the highest ground in New Orleans and survived Hurricane Katrina (2005) virtually untouched. After the storm Frenchmen Street was officially designated an Arts and Entertainment district by the city and its popularity increased as disaster recovery workers and tourists began to discover it. Since that time, the 2010 Super Bowl celebration and the HBO seriesTreme have both prominently featured Frenchmen Street, making it a must-visit area of New Orleans.
Some places you might want to check out are The Maison, a live music club and restaurant with three stages; the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, consisting of a bar room, dining room and music room; and the Blue Nile, the first live music venue to open on Frenchmen Street (previously called Dream Palace), offering local, national and international bands playing funk, soul and blues.
Most of the clubs on Frenchmen Street have no cover charge, and the drinks are cheap. The musicians rely on tips for their income, however, so if you visit Frenchmen Street be sure to tip generously!