Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Orleans Bed and Breakfast Beds

I've been looking at some online photos that other innkeepers use to promote their properties.  There are a lot of pictures of beds.  Nobody comes to New Orleans to watch television, and nobody comes to New Orleans to sleep, but it's important to have a welcoming place to catch up on your shut-eye, either way.  Every one of our suites has cable TV.

While the antique beds, just like all the other furnishings, are part of La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast's je n'est c'est quoi, appeal, pictures don't do them justice.  I can blame my photography skills, or I can blame my phone.  The truth is, pictures can never prepare the viewer for experiencing something enchanting in the round and in the flesh.

Our guests from Toronto said, "We didn't realize the rooms were so spacious.  We figured that if you didn't show the ceilings, they must be low."  One of them is a real estate agent.  Frau Schmitt tells me that the ceilings are 12 and a half feet high.  She is usually right about these things.  Tammie, our housekeeper, tells me that she needs a twelve-foot ladder to dust the ceiling fans. 

While I personally feel pictures of beds to be a bit boring, we present them here for your perusal:
Les Saintes Suite bed
Les Fleurs Suite bed
La France Suite bed

Clio Suite bed
La Pelican Suite bed
We have five suites at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  They are all comfortable.  When you sleep in New Orleans, you will have good dreams.  When you stay at La Belle Esplanade, you will have a good breakfast waiting for you, too.  

New Orleans is more than a collection of hotel rooms.  It is a city of neighborhoods.  We are in the middle of Esplanade Avenue.  It's about a 20 minute stroll to the French Quarter and the Marigny, and it's about a 20 minute promenade to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

You can reserve a room in an international chain hotel, or you can opt for a boutique experience.  We are proud of our beds, of course, but our inn contains much, much more than sleeping arrangements.  We are surrounded by much, much more than you'll read about in a guide book or a tourism brochure.  We do a good job of being welcoming hosts, but the city we call home does all the heavy lifting.  You can't stay in New Orleans without falling in love and wanting to come back again. 

Please check out web site and reserve a suite directly from our online calendar.  When you cut out the middleman, you save.  You'll be able to afford another one or two nights more, or more.

A votre sante.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Orleans Museum B&B

Breakfast is about to be served
Recent guests have noticed some changes in the dining room when they are nibbling on fresh baguettes spread with fig preserves made in St. Bernard Parish.  When they are sampling the crawfish bread, or taking a bite of red velvet from Blue Dot Donuts on Canal Street, they look up at the shelves and notice the shelves are getting crowded.
Dining room shelves in New Orleans
We are assembling a cigar box museum.  We leave it up to you, gentle reader, to decide who had this bright idea.  I'll give you a hint: it wasn't Frau Schmitt, who is usually right about these things, and it wasn't Tammie, the housekeeper.

A gentleman from Stillwater, Minn., who was staying with us with his lovely wife and lovely daughter, noticed the cigar boxes and asked about them.  Just last week, they all held American-made cigars that are still manufactured in the good old U.S. of A.  "Do they have a good reputation?" he asked.  He suspected, correctly, that all those cigars hadn't smoked themselves.

New Orleans' latest collection of curiosities is located in a historic New Orleans bed and breakfast inn.  Let's focus in on one of the shelves.
You never know what you'll find in New Orleans
Let's get a bit closer, between the jam jars and the oversized jar of powdered crab boil spice on the bottom...
A cigar by any other name smells just as sweet
The gentleman from Minnesota was seated directly under our latest acquisition, a box of Sam Houston Churchill Cigars.  The box isn't much to look at, but the linking of Sam Houston's name and reputation with Winston Churchill's  is a thought-provoking, conceptual juxtaposition.  We put a couple of Sam Houstons in the lobby humidor for interested people to sample, outdoors, if they are truly curious.

"I'm not a smoker, myself, but I'm curious," the gentleman from Minnesota said.  La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast's curator explained that cigar connoisseurship often outweighs patriotism.  These are not high-dollar cigars, just American-made.

"When you love New Orleans, you're a part of the best part of America," the curator said while he waved an unlit cheroot (no smoking indoors, remember) while he sat on a stool decorated with a mosaic of bottle caps.  It was like a scene out of a novel written in Algiers.
A historic plaque
The sign is located outside this house:
509 Wagner Street, Algiers (New Orleans), LA
We can't predict how extensive the cigar box museum will become, but we do know that our inn is full of curiosities and curios.  There is a story everywhere you turn.  There are stories everywhere you turn in New Orleans.  While you are in New Orleans, that story is yours.

Enjoy your stay.

A votre sante.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2014 Essence Fest B&B

La Belle d'Esplanade
Esplanade Avenue, which runs about three miles long, passes through a number of neighborhoods.  It is the dividing line between the First Municipality and the Third Municipality, between the 6th Ward and the 7th Ward; it is part of the French Quarter, of Faubourg Marigny, of Historic Treme and Greater Treme, of Bayou St. John; it is a world unto its own, one of the most beautiful streets in New Orleans.

Essence Fest 2014 is coming to New Orleans between July 4 and 7.  Music and culture will be highlighted for three memorable days.  Where else but in New Orleans?

Organizers predict that 400,000 people will visit our fair city for Essence Fest.  Hotels expect to be full.  More than a few don't have any rooms available four months in advance.

La Belle Esplanade, a historic New Orleans bed and breakfast inn, is located in the middle of Esplanade Avenue, in Treme.

As of this writing, we still have some suites available.  If you are thinking of coming to Essence Fest, the time to make a reservation is now.  Please visit our website.  Don't call on July 1.  We'll be booked up, just like everyplace else.

A votre sante.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Orleans Bed and Breakfast Soap

No one is going to say that any of the original artwork hanging in La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast is worth hanging in the New Orleans Museum of Art at the end of Esplanade Avenue.  It's not that the artwork isn't any good.  Some of it is very good.  Most of it, however, will probably be appreciated more once the artist is dead.  Such is the lot of most painters.  
A painting in Les Fleurs Suite
Delayed appreciation is not a problem, though, for those lucky few who practice the olfactory arts.  If you know the difference between toilet water and Chanel No. 5, you know the difference between run-of-the-mill hotel soap and handcrafted artisanal soap.

I mentioned the other day, in my usual rambling and roundabout way, that I happen to know a soap maker from New London, Connecticut.  She agreed to supply us with her product.  The first shipment arrived the other day.  Nothing bad has ever come out of Connecticut.  Just ask your humble narrator's wife.  She is usually right about these things.

If you're like me, you like to spend your time online reading reviews of artisanal soaps.  I found two that confirmed that I had made the right partnership.  One reviewer found Olive and Oud soaps an ode to joy.   Another reviewer felt like she had emerged from a bonfire in the snow.  

The soaps arrived from Connecticut, and we put a cube of each in La France, La Pelican, and the Clio Suites.  I'm not going to provide pictures of these eye candy soaps.  It's not that I forgot my camera, and it's not they aren't worth admiring with one's eyes.  It's just that they are best enjoyed firsthand, through one's nose and one's skin.  Neither words nor pictures can do them justice.  They deserve to be experienced in the flesh.

We were giving Leda and Richard a tour of the Clio Suite when they checked in this evening.  Leda immediately noticed the cube of Olive and Oud soap set like a jewel in the dish by the sink.  "This smells like heaven," she said and she held it up for Richard to get a whiff.

"It smells like New Orleans, just like I expected," he said.

Let's say you can't wait to stay at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast to try our new soaps.  Maybe you stayed with us in the past and you want to be reminded of what it was like to enjoy a few days on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans.  Maybe you just want to buy some Olive and Oud soap for yourself, to get an idea of what it is like to wile away a few carefree hours and forget your worries in a beautiful setting.  Maybe you just want to dance and live life like nobody is watching.  You can buy Olive and Oud soap online.

New London is Connecticut's Whaling City.  After you visit New Orleans, I suggest you plan a vacation in the southeastern corner of the Nutmeg State.  The two cities have much in common: deepwater ports, good people, good music, good bars, and good soap.  

I know a painter from New London.  He gave me a picture he had painted with your humble narrator in mind.
Baelenius Rex!
Not all the art found in our New Orleans bed and breakfast inn is museum-quality, but all of it worth enjoying, like the house itself and the city we call home.

A votre sante.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rating New Orleans bed and breakfasts

La Belle d'Esplanade
I was sitting on the front stoop of our historic New Orleans bed and breakfast inn this morning, just watching the world go by.  On one of the more picturesque streets in the city, there is plenty traffic, vehicular and bipedal, passing riverside to lakeside, or from City Park to the Faubourg Marigny.  

A tour bus passed and I waved.  A bicycle tour paused at Gayarre Place across the street and I waved when the guide pointed in my direction.   The 91 Bus pulled up to its stop on the corner and a matronly lady wearing pearls and carrying a clutch purse stepped off.
The corner of Esplanade Avenue and North Miro Street
She walked up to the statue of Clio that stands on its pedestal in Gayarre Place and then she looked in my direction.  She waved at me through the oak trees that line our street.
The view from Gayarre Place
"Bonjour, Matthieu.  Do you speak French?" she said after walking over.

"Bonjour, ma gentille femme.  No, I don't.  How do you know my name?"  

I offered my right hand, ready to deliver the firm kind of shake that denotes honest character.  She insisted on exchanging kisses on each cheek, so we did that instead. 

"I've read about you on l'internet," she said.

We've had some new reviews posted on Trip Advisor and this nice lady from Quebec had read them while staying in her hotel on Canal Street.  

She has been in New Orleans for a week.  She told me that while she loves the city, she wished she had booked a room somewhere a little further from the French Quarter and the Convention Center.  

She was sitting alone at breakfast at her hotel this morning when she decided to see what other options were available besides the international chain hotels that dominate the market.  She logged onto the site of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans and the picture of La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast caught her eye.  "C'est la maison orange avec des volets bleus," she said.  It caught her eye, so she read our reviews.

"Qui est correct," I replied.  "It's the orange house with blue shutters."

As our guests, and regular readers, and casual skimmers of this blog who have scrolled through the archives, know, our bed and breakfast has only been open since September, 2012.  As of this writing, we are ranked #26 out of the 148 New Orleans B&Bs listed on Trip Advisor.  It has been a steady and pleasant climb.  We are proud of what we've accomplished over the past couple of months.
A very orange house
2216 Esplanade Avenue is downtown in the New Orleans sense.  It is on the "north" side of Canal Street.  It is not in the French Quarter and it is not in the Central Business District.  It is very nice in our part of the city.  It is close to the "action" while being a part what passes for peace and quiet in New Orleans.  Somebody is happy on every street in New Orleans at every hour of any day.  When you are happy, you have to dance.

Two of the most prestigious bed and breakfasts in New Orleans are one block away on either side of us: The Degas House and Ashton's.  Also in our neighborhood are the excellently rated, HH Whitney House, and the Five Continents Bed and Breakfast.  Though our website isn't fancy, La Belle Esplanade is in good company.  The people who stay with us seem to think so.
Our Lady of Dourgenois
To our guests who have written reviews on Trip Advisor and on, Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator have only two words:  Thank you.  To our guests who have not written online reviews, we also have two words:  Thank you.  It has been our pleasure to serve as your hosts during your stay.

The lady from Quebec and I sat in the lobby for awhile.  She asked me where she should go for dinner for a real New Orleans meal.  I recommended Liuzza's, as I always do.  

Roll a world map out on the floor and connect these cities:  Little Rock, Arkansas; Sydney, Australia; Stockholm, Sweden; Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.  I have recommended Liuzza's to people from all over who live within that quadrangle, and nobody has been disappointed yet.  Not a bad record for a six months.  

The lady from Quebec said she was going to Liuzza's tonight.  "Vous ne le regretterez pas," I told her.  She won't regret it. 

She is planning on visiting New Orleans again next year, for Jazz Fest.  She plans to stay at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  
The sun always shines on Esplanade Avenue
"I look forward to seeing you again, then," I told her, and I meant it.  "Make sure you book directly through our website:"

With that, we parted company, kissing cheeks again.  She looked at the inn again, "If only I had known," she sighed in perfect French.

A votre sante

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Bedspread Tour

A kind of rainbow
I was standing on the balcony in Les Saintes Suite.  When I turned around, it occurred to me that it's true: every room really is a different color.  

There are no hallways in La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  Though it doesn't look like it from the street, the rooms are laid out like two double shotgun shacks, one stacked on top of the other.  Every room has at least two doors.  The stairwells are in the middle of the building.

Everyone comments on the paint job at our inn, both the outside and the inside.  When guests get the tour during check-in, they usually say something along the lines of, "It must have been fun picking all these colors."  Yes, but it didn't end with the walls and the ceilings.  The angels, as usual, are in the details.

Tammie, the housekeeper, follows me around.  The other day, she asked me, "Who taught you how to make a bed?"  As a former U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, I informed her that I had been to school for it, twice.  I learned how to make a bed for when I was at sea, and I learned how to make a bed for a hospital patient.  I demonstrated on the corner of the bed in La Pelican Suite, making the bed one way, then another.
The bed in La Pelican Suite
"So that's why you never make the bed the same way twice," Tammie said.  "That's why I've been following you around.  That, and I want to make sure I know where your glasses are when you ask if I've seen them."

Absentminded and easily distracted, I do tend to leave my glasses lying around because I don't use them to see up close.  I take them off when I'm helping Tammie with the housekeeping because I don't need to wear them for her to pick up what I miss.  

Tammie is a very good housekeeper, but she's wrong about why I never make the bed the same way twice.  I am absentminded and easily distracted.  I get to looking around and admiring the room I'm in, and then I forget how I tucked the last corner, so I make it up as I go along.  I've been to school for this, after all.  Twice.  It will work out fine, I'm sure, just like our color choices.

After Tammie was done remaking the bed behind me, I mentioned that Frau Schmitt, who is usually right about these things, picked all the bedspreads to match the walls and the theme of each suite.  I wasn't involved, but it must have been fun to choose all the bedspreads.  It was fun for me to choose the things I was in charge of.

"Just look at this one," I said.
A rococo landscape
I smoothed out the wrinkles on the bed in La Pelican Suite.  "Look at this reverie of sub-tropical climates and ancient places," I said. "It's like a view of Acadia.  There's a view like this on the corner or Elysian Fields Avenue and North Bunnyfriend Street that looks just like that, across from the playground."
A real New Orleans street name
Tammie, impatient as usual, asked me, "You do know that I have work to do?"  

I thought we should take a tour of the bedspreads, instead, so we went across the stairwell to Les Saintes Suite.
Meditation in Creole paisley
Les Saintes is my favorite suite, though Frau Schmitt likes to say that La France Suite is my favorite.  She is usually right about these things.  

"Really look at this bedspread," I suggested to Tammie.  "If there is anything true about living here, it's that the city is full of motion like a drop of the Mississippi under a microscope.  There are saints in New Orleans and then there are the Saints."  We looked at the bedspread for a few moments in awkward silence until I added, "Jack Kerouac liked paisley."

"I don't know who Jack Kerouac is, but I'm pretty sure you're no Jack Kerouac," Tammie said.

I followed her downstairs to Les Fleur Suite.
A springtime medley
"This is our most romantic suite," I remarked to Tammie while she made the bed, "Minutes in New Orleans are like petals tossed in the breeze.  You don't know what wild flowers you'll find growing along the sidewalk, you don't know what you'll find around the next corner, you never know..."

"Do you mind if we go upstairs?" Tammie interrupted as she placed a praline between the bed pillows.  I didn't, so we walked up the stairs to the Clio Suite.
Tchoupitoulas mandala
Being an innkeeper, every day is the same and different.  A house is a collection of everything that has ever happened in it.  A historic New Orleans bed and breakfast is a comfortably eccentric home away from home.  La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast is a work in progress.  All the decor has been chosen with care.  There is a story behind everything.  Just ask.

Tammie doesn't seem to mind when I help with the housekeeping.  It may take her longer, but happiness makes good company.  "You're not going to spout off flights of fancy about this bedspread are you?" Tammie asked me as she set to work on Clio's bed.  

We still had La France Suite to tidy up, but I realized I had left my glasses somewhere.  "They're on the front porch," Tammie told me.  Taking her hint, I sat on the front stoop and mugged for the camera, out of mischief, waiting for our next guests to arrive.
Your humble narrator
It was 76 degrees on March 21.  I was wearing a tee shirt.  Frau Schmitt took my picture while I was waiting for our guests from San Antonio to arrive.  They are lovely young ladies who are staying in La France Suite tonight.  They were a pleasure to meet, and a pleasure to know, just like the couple from St. Louis who are staying in La Pelican Suite, and the the young lady from Ireland who is cheerfully gracious, and the chef from Pisa and his lovely bride who have been touring America for two weeks, and the medical students from Saudi Arabia who are moving to New Orleans in June.  

It is no wonder New Orleans innkeepers have dimpled cheeks.  They meet the nicest people.  Of course, everyone in New Orleans meets the nicest people.  There is southern hospitality, and then there is New Orleans hospitality.  New Orleans has a little bit extra.  

If we don't have any availability when you plan to visit New Orleans, there are plenty of other licensed bed and breakfast inns in New Orleans to choose from.  We hope we have room at our inn when you choose to stay in our fair city.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Art House on Esplanade Avenue

One lane only
If you haven't been down Esplanade Avenue recently, the city is repaving the street between North Rampart and Moss Streets.  It's been an interesting public works project to watch from the front porch.  There is a hole in the pavement in front of our inn.  It looks like they were looking for a Cardiff Giant.
A hole filled in with sand
Tree trimming has already been done on the 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue and the oaks in front of La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast are safe.  Amply shaded on-street parking remains the rule.

When the work is finished, Esplanade Avenue will carry traffic differently.  Instead of two narrow automobile lanes on each side of the neutral ground, there will be one wide lane for cars, with a dedicated bicycle lane running along each side.  That and the pavement will be as smooth as Miss Alma's roux.  Most people are in favor of this change, but there a few people in favor of the status quo, as there usually are.

Remember the other day when I said that we don't get the Times-Picayune delivered to our house anymore and I had missed an important story?  Well, today, our neighbor, Johanna, told me I had missed something else.  I had missed an interesting letter to the editor.
It looks like a giant's grave from this angle
I happen to know the author.  Johanna and I rummaged through the recycling bin to find Friday's T-P.  We found it and I brought it into La France Suite where Frau Schmitt was straightening the pictures.  I asked her to guess who had his letter to the editor published.  "Probably some crackpot," she said.  She is usually right about these things.  

We were in La France Suite's bedroom.  Every room at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast is a different color.  La France Suite is painted in the colors of the French flag.  The bedroom is red.  Over the mantle is a reproduction of Edgar Degas' famous New Orleans painting.
The walls are red like the blood of patriots
There is a reflection from the window across the room in the photo above.  It isn't 'Portrait of Estelle" that was purchased by the Delgado Museum.  It is "The Cotton Exchange."
Image courtesy of Edgar Degas
If your idea of excitement is reading the newspaper, this is the painting for you.  I've got something else in mind to replace it in the near future, but that is the subject of another post.  

What caught my eye wasn't the Degas.  I love to study it, and I pass the Degas House every day on my errands, and they also have a hole in front of their historic New Orleans bed and breakfast inn, and it really is a perfect composition.  A different painter came to mind.  It was Giorgio de Chirico.
"Love Song" by Giorgio de Chirico
I was looking at the corner of the mantle while I was talking to Frau Schmitt, at the bust of Napoleon positioned next to the tissue box.  It was a metaphysical landscape.
Bust of the emperor
"Able was I ere I saw Elba," I said.  New Orleans is the kind of city in which palindromes make up the patois.  Napoleon would not have lamented living here.  

What caught my eye was the plaster bust paired with a box of kleenex printed with a picture of a pier.  If I were a painter, I would have the subject to create a masterpiece. 

No matter what kind of frame of mind you find yourself in, you will enjoy staying at our inn.   The whole thing is a work in progress with new details being added and rearranged every day.  Every room is a different color.  Every suite has a different theme. We run an comfortably artistic New Orleans bed and breakfast that is full of curios and original work, as well inspiration for everyone who visits.
It is all in the details
Think about staying at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast if you are visiting New Orleans.

A votre sante.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Day in New Orleans

North Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA
MAILBAG!!  The letter reprinted below arrived from New York City, NY.  It is a city like New Orleans, a place that everybody knows and dreams about.  Our historic and colorful New Orleans bed and breakfast is building its reputation by reviews on Trip Advisor and on, but it is always good to get real mail from the U.S. Postal Service.

The Letter:

Dear La Belle Esplanade,

We were at wits' end trying to decide where to stay in New Orleans.  Luckily, you're listing showed up on  We visited your website and made our reservation directly through  

After we checked in, we followed your recommendations to enjoy your neighborhood before heading to the French Quarter.  We saw the most beautiful cast-iron cornstalk fence in the whole city.  
Around the corner from Community Coffee
We walked up to City park and the art museum.  We enjoyed a cup of cafe au lait with chicory at Morning Call.  
New Orleans Peristyle
The whole afternoon seemed like a dream.  We thought we saw the Roman Candy Cart in the distance.
Roman Candy on St. Charles Avenue
We walked up to Angelo Bracato where we shared two scoops of ice cream, and we picked up two strawberry taffy sticks to go.  
Since long before anyone reading this was born, there has been a Bracato making spumoni
We walked back and sat on the couch in Les Fleurs Suite.  It was so nice to do something unplanned and wholly magical.
Your suite is waiting
For dinner, we walked lakeside toward North Broad Street.  We didn't want to stray too far from the neighborhood.  We had a dinner we will never forget.
Neon in New Orleans
We will never forget any of our stay.  Thank you for introducing us to the New Orleans outside the French Quarter and the tourism brochures.  What a city!

Thanks for everything,
CP and AT.

[Editor's note:  Names have been obscured to protect the happy.]

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Orleans Population Growth

Waiting for the news
Since the Times-Picayune switched to thrice-a-week printing and delivery, we haven't been receiving the paper.  We are one of the 20,000 local subscribers who receive The Advocate, the newspaper out of Baton Rouge that is printed and delivered daily.  20,000 is their figure.  I only find one copy on the stoop every morning.

The Times-Picayne's Wed-Fri-Sun schedule wasn't working for me.  I didn't like reading three days worth of comic strips on Wednesday mornings.  Now, I get to savor my "Peanuts" and my "For Better or For Worse" every day.  The Advocate is doing a reasonable job of delivering local news, as well as keeping your humble narrator informed on what's going on in Baton Rouge.  My ideas about the seat of Louisiana's state government are now a little less vague.  I can't say I'm tempted to move there.

Guests who stay at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast probably won't miss the T-P's presence in the dining room, but the city's paper of record did report something recently that the Advocate missed.  According to the US Census Bureau, the New Orleans population grew by 25,421 people between 2010-2012.
Hand-painted by Mystic Blue Signs
That's a lot of people.  We're two of them.  I guess we're in the news, just like when the New York Times used a photo of La Belle Esplanade to illustrate a picturesque streetscape for its Frugal Traveler column.  [Ed. Note: In case you miss it, our picture is at the bottom of the text, right after the mention of Mystic Blue Signs on Magazine Street.  Everything is connected in New Orleans.]   

New Orleans is a big city.  Visit.  You won't regret it.  

If you are thinking about moving, visit New Orleans.  You may not physically relocate to New Orleans, but the city will become a part of you.  There is no place else like it.  It is much, much better and less, less worse than you think or have heard.  It deserves to be experienced, respected, and loved.  

Stay for a weekend or stay for a week.  Even if you choose to move to Baton Rouge, or somewhere else in America, for whatever reason, New Orleans will always be close to your heart.  You won't regret a visit.  There is a very nice historic New Orleans bed and breakfast inn where you can stay.
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
Be a New Orleanian wherever you are.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Anniversary Bed and Breakfast

Une belle ingenue
If New Orleans, this most seductive of cities, was a woman, she would not be a femme fatale.  She'd be your best friend; the kind of gal pal who sticks with you through thick and thin, good times and bad, in brightest day and blackest night.  That's what I think, at least.

The other evening, I passed a few of our guests on the sidewalk as they were headed to Liuzza's for dinner, which is not to be confused with the unrelated Liuzza's by the Track where they had lunch.  We chatted a bit under the darkening sky and one of them mentioned that she envied us for living in New Orleans.  I had to admit, blushing as I did so, that I felt a pang of envy for them.

I understand why people say we are lucky to live where we do.  I feel lucky every time we walk out our front door, every time we order po' boys and I groan that there is no way I am going to finish mine, every time we get stuck behind a second line parade, every time somebody starts a rambling conversation on a street corner with us and I have to pinch myself that we're not in New England anymore and that, really, what's the rush?  This palaver is more important than what's hiding in the future.  I feel lucky every time it's after dark and I'm on the downtown side of the 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue, looking uptown.
Esplanade Avenue at night

Every day has been better than the last during the time we have lived in New Orleans.  We know we have found our home in a world that is often cruel and often unkind.  New Orleans can be those things too, and it often is, but New Orleans is unlike anywhere else.  I don't know much about the rest of Louisiana, but whoever you are, whatever you are, and wherever you're from, you are welcome here, and there is no time like that first introduction.  

You never forget your first time in New Orleans.  It gets better and deeper after that, but you never forget that first flush of intoxication.  Some people call that feeling love.  True love gets better with time.  In New Orleans, when the moon hits your eye like a muffaletta, that's l'amore.  You never forget your first time in New Orleans the way you never forget your first girl.
La Belle d'Esplanade
Let's say you are a lady from Rome, GA.  You're special for that reason, of course, but so are 36,303 other people according to the 2010 census.  Let's say you grew up there, have lived there all your life, and have raised a family there, with a gentleman from Thomasville, GA.  You've been married to that gentleman for 15 happy years.  You have a three children and you are grandparents.  

I've heard it said that the climate in Rome keeps people looking young.  If it is true of popes, it is certainly true of Georgians.  I can attest to that because you and your husband checked in at noon yesterday.  "We wanted to do something special for our fifteenth wedding anniversary," your husband told me.  You are a lucky woman and he is a lucky man.  Welcome to New Orleans.

You arrived at noon.  "We're sorry we're early," you told us.  Your husband added, "We were excited to get here, so we left early."  We understand.  We are excited to be here, too, every day.  That's why we wake up early after staying up late.  Happily, we have a shorter trip.  Welcome to New Orleans.

You arrived at noon.  If you had arrived at midnight, the light would have been on in the lobby, waiting for you.  Welcome to La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
Esplanade Avenue at night
We will do what we can to help you make pleasant memories, the kind that will last the next fifteen years, and all the many, many happy years after that.

Esplanade Avenue is one of the most beautiful streets in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  If you are going to celebrate life and fall in love again, there are few better places to do it than in New Orleans.  It could happen to you.  It happened to "Sweet" Molly Malone.
A print in La Pelican Suite
A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Our first illustration was courtesy of The Bleat.
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