For the last decade or so, we’ve called Faubourg St. John our home. Jeremy’s actually lived here longer than Addie has, but for the last six years, we’ve lived together and called this neighborhood our home. It is turning out to be difficult and bittersweet to come to terms with saying goodbye to this place in May as we head off to travel, but we have a multitude of treasured memories that ensure we will always look back fondly on our time in New Orleans. We’re grateful for our time here and would like to share a bit about what makes our neighborhood so very special.
Faubourg St. John, known also as the Bayou St. John neighborhood, is built along the Esplanade Ridge and consists of about 75 blocks of the city of New Orleans. Established in 1708, it’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans. Geographically, the neighborhood is centered around the curve of Bayou St. John and bounded by Broad Street, Orleans Avenue, Bayou St. John, and the Fair Grounds. Faubourg St. John boasts not only many architecturally significant structures, local restaurants, bars and shops, and a small-town feel in the middle of the city, but it also features easy access to the outdoors. The entire neighborhood is walkable and quite pedestrian friendly; it’s easy to spend the weekend here without getting in the car. We even have bike lanes on beautiful oak tree-lined Esplanade Avenue.
The proximity to nature is one of our favorite things about living in this neighborhood: it’s close to the tranquil waters of Bayou St. John as well as the verdant growth and fields of City Park. We are avid outdoors people and having such easy access to these prominent natural features of New Orleans has been such a blessing for us. We take long walks along Bayou St. John often and visit City Park (on foot) at least once a week. It’s peaceful and fulfilling to walk amongst the old oak trees in the park or on the raised banks of Bayou St. John, watching a glorious sunset. We even have a small neighborhood-maintained corner park called Fortier Park, not far from our home. It’s a great alternative gathering spot and place to relax outdoors for people like us who don’t have backyards.
Another thing to love about Faubourg St. John is its proximity to the French Quarter. It’s just about a two mile straight shot from our front door to the river, not very far from us at all. As a result, we walk to the Quarter often and love to use the wide, oak-tree lined neutral ground on Esplanade Avenue as our thoroughfare. This takes the concept of urban hiking to new and interesting heights. Where else can one stroll down a dirt path through the trees feeling peaceful just a few feet from traffic to either side? We’ve walked that path so often that it feels like mere minutes to get from our home to the French Quarter.
Of course, we can’t talk about Faubourg St. John without talking about the Fair Grounds and Jazz Fest. For the last 40+ years, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has taken place just steps from our home and at the back end of our neighborhood. Save for these two weeks of the year, our neighborhood is typically quiet and low-key. However, residents of this neighborhood love the Jazz Fest scene (by and large) and embrace both festival goers and the event with gusto. This is the neighborhood’s time to shine, and though it hosts block parties throughout the year, Jazz Fest is the one time the whole neighborhood comes together and roams their streets, saying hello to the neighbors we wave to every day. Everyone throws their own little party, and we are no exception. We hold our own seven day party we call Porch Fest, a time our friends (and their friends) can gather on our porch, have something to eat and drink, watch the crowds walk by, and get a sense what it’s like to live so close to such a massive event.
Finally, let’s talk a bit about those local businesses we mentioned earlier. This neighborhood takes its eating, drinking, and being merry seriously. In the proverbial heart of Faubourg St. John, where Ponce de Leon Street crosses Esplanade Avenue, we have a wide variety of business servicing all types of needs. This small area houses several restaurants, each featuring a different type of cuisine: Santa Fe (Mexican), Nonna Mia (Italian), Cafe Degas (French), 1000 Figs (Mediterranean), The Half Shell (oyster bar/Creole cuisine), Liuzza’s by the Track (New Orleans-style), and Bayou Breakfast (breakfast/brunch). We also have two coffee shops (Fair Grinds and CC’s, just a bit down Esplanade), a salon (Lux Salon Blends), a wine shop (Swirl Wine Bar), and two grocery stores (Canseco’s and Terranova Brothers Superette). Further away from the center but also in our neighborhood is Pal’s Lounge (a bar) and a multitude of restaurants and businesses on lake side of Broad Street, the neighborhood’s southeastern boundary.
We might be biased, but we consider Faubourg St. John to be the best neighborhood in all of New Orleans. Where you live is not just about the price (though costs are becoming an issue here as in many New Orleans neighborhoods). It’s also about the feel of the neighborhood. In New Orleans some neighborhoods are well known: they have attractions that are recognized worldwide. Other neighborhoods in New Orleans are glorified suburbs lacking the atmosphere most seek when they come to New Orleans. But there are a few neighborhoods scattered here and there across the city like hidden treasures. Faubourg St. John is one of them. Not only do we have easy and abundant access to the outdoors for when we tired of the bustle of the city, but we also have all the benefits of the city with plenty of options for dining and shopping. There’s a bus route that runs through the neighborhood, across the back end of the Quarter and all the way Uptown to the river. Additionally, our proximity to City Park (and the New Orleans Museum of Art) means that a streetcar line ends right where Esplanade Avenue meets Bayou St. John. If one were so inclined, they could easily survive here without a car, walking along the bayou, or below the arcs of oak trees. It’s easy to forget that you live in a place millions visit to party and be rambunctious because it’s so quiet here, so local. The people in Faubourg St. John live here not just because they love New Orleans, but because they love this peaceful part of New Orleans that lends itself so well to living well. Really, what’s not to love?
Go further: read more about our neighborhood’s history here.