Monday, June 30, 2014

Les Fleurs Suite (updated)

Antique bed, Les Fleurs Suite
I forget whose idea it was to name everything in French.  When we're talking amongst ourselves, we always call it Flower.  "Remember those nice people who stayed in Flower?" Frau Schmitt will ask me, and I know exactly who she means.  

Our guests who get into the spirit of things call this Les Fleurs Suite, and they should.   That's what it says on our website.  It's this suite and it's one of our favorites.  The sitting room is pink and the bedroom is peach.  I forget whose idea it was to pick those colors but, with the blue ceiling and the all the antique furniture, it has a calming effect.  It's on the ground floor, which makes it Tammie the Housekeeper's favorite suite.
View from the front porch
As usual, I took all these pictures with my phone.  Les Fleurs Suite has its own private front porch that faces Esplanade Avenue.  You get to the porch through the front bedroom window that goes down to floor and up into the ceiling.  The bed frame used to be full-sized.  It used to be in Clio , but we got a new bed for up there.  We took this bed to the restorers and they turned it into a queen.  Les Fleurs Suite has a queen-sized bed - no need to call about that.   The only other suite with a queen bed is Clio.
Sitting room, Les Fleurs Suite
We added a new leather love seat to go with the velvet chair in the sitting room.  The sitting room also has the leather chair that matches the love seat.  You can't see it in this picture because I was sitting in it.  Even with the antique wardrobe and dresser, there's plenty of room in this first room of the suite.  

As for the second room, the bedroom, it has plenty of space in it, too, even with the antique queen bed and the other antique furnishings.  We already saw a picture of the bed, here's what it looks like to look from the bedroom through the sitting room:
Bedroom view of the sitting room
You'd think I took these pictures at different times of day on different days, but the light is beguiling in our house, especially when you use your phone to take the pictures.  There is a private bathroom off the bedroom, equipped with an antique claw foot tub in case you want to take a soak.  The tub is equipped with a shower head - no need to call about that.  The hand sink, however, is in the bedroom because it's more European that way.

The reason this is called Les Fleurs Suite is because of the botanical artwork on the walls.  Some are photographic prints.  There is a paper mache flower from a Mardi Gras float.  Over the mantle in the sitting room, there are some original oil paintings by a local artist we like to collect.  

Two private rooms, a private bath, and a private porch that looks out over Esplanade Avenue.  The wild ginger in front of the porch is coming back after almost dying from cold last winter.  Esplanade Avenue is a beautiful street and the front porch presents an interesting and ever-changing view.  

It's a main street, but it isn't terribly busy for a main city street.  Cars go by and people walk by, too.  The tour buses and bicycle tours stop across the street to snap pictures of the house.  We live in a kind of landmark: most colorful house on Esplanade Avenue.

The best way to make a reservation is online through our website:  There's no need to call unless you have questions.  In that case, we'll be happy to answer them.  We're not always home though, so email is generally more efficient.  

I'm not trying to discourage you from calling, it's just that we put everything up on our website.  We don't think anybody likes surprises.  When somebody calls, they have to wait for me to pull up our website to check availability or to check our policies.  
Tammie the Housekeeper
Tammie the Housekeeper is a whiz with the cleaning, but she prefers not to have anything to do with computers.  That's why she never answers the phone.  The answering machine can take a message as well as she can.  She's usually busy getting the suites ready, stocking the complimentary refrigerator, making sure ever suite has coffee, tea, a bag of Zapp's potato chips, and putting a praline on the pillow.  We wouldn't be as successful as we are without good housekeeping.

We look forward to meeting you.
A votre santé,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Unintentional Art in New Orleans

Columbus Street, New Orleans, facing riverside
I noticed something on Columbus street the other day when I was walking the dog.  I didn't recognize it at first, but I kept looking at it and kept looking at it until I finally realized what it was that set my New Orleans-sense tingling.  It was perfect.
Plantation home, Columbus Street New Orleans
It was a couple of houses past my favorite house on the block between North Miro and North Galvez Streets.  My gaze kept being drawn back to the space between parked cars and I couldn't figure out why.  Then it hit me.
A tree grows in the 7th Ward
All of our guests this week are New Englanders.  We don't know why, but we have something in common to talk about if nobody wants to talk about New Orleans.  I was talking to the fellow from New Hampshire, and he was going to walk around the neighborhood to take pictures.  I told him about the new tree on Columbus Street.
Art or life?
It's a live oak sapling planted inside the hollow stump of a dead live oak.  The trunk is hollow from termite damage.  Somebody sawed off the stump nicely, making it obvious that intentional care had been taken in the planting of this new tree in place of the old.  It's like something a conceptual artist gets commissioned to put in a public park.  Here, it's just part of the 7th Ward landscape.  You never know what you'll find when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  

I was thinking that while the dog and I walked around our neighborhood:
Colorful Creole homes, New Orleans, LA
I always appreciate the orange door on the periwinkle house, but I'll always be a sucker for the facade of the yellow house.
House on North Prieur Street
Luckily there are street signs everywhere in this neighborhood.  These houses are on the corner of North Prieur and Columbus Streets, two blocks down from the tree.
Things are safer than they appear in New Orleans
A recent guest, one from Alaska no less, sent us a link to his blog today.  He wrote that he wasn't sure if we'd be interested in a guest's reaction to New Orleans, but, if so, he thought he would share a link to his blog.  We are always interested.  If anyone else wants to share a link, we'll be happy to read it.

This is what it's like to live in New Orleans.  I asked our guest if we could share his link here.  He said he didn't mind at all.  Without further ado: here is the link.  I know exactly what he means.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Something Amazing in New Orleans

Feast day of St. Jean d'Arc
The Feast of Saint Joan of Arc was actually about three weeks ago. One of our guests snapped the photo above.  Today is a different celebration.

I know it's been a few days since our last update, but tune in tomorrow.  I saw the most amazing thing a few blocks, two blocks, actually, from our house.

Until tomorrow,
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Outside New Orleans

Facing Uptown on Chartres Street
We don't leave New Orleans often.  When you live on a beautiful street in a beautiful city, there isn't much urge to venture too far.  We do get some guests who rent a car in order to take a trip out to the plantations. 

We always recommend a plantation tour, if you're interested in that.  There are tours, though, that will drive you out to the plantation so that you don't have to rent a car.  On the bus, there's a guide who will describe what you're driving through and the history of the area.  It's very interesting.  On the way back, most people nap.

Some people want to rent a car anyway.  If you want to, there's no reason not to.  Some people say, "We don't want the touristy version.  We want to see the real Louisiana."  Renting a car is certainly one way to do that.

If you want, I can tell you the exit number for the best gas station upriver.  It's past Destrehan.
Gator's One-Stop
Since we get our wine from a winery upstate, we always stop at that exit.  Nobody says "upstate" here, but you're not from here either so you know what I mean.  I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about that gas station that makes me want to pick up some cracklin's and a bottle of Gatorade.
Gas station off the Interstate 10
People ask what it's like outside New Orleans.  Well, it's Cajun country, to start with.  It's a different world out there.  The food is different, for one thing.  The accent is different, too.  It's much more rural, i.e. there's more wildlife.

There are alligators out there.
There are alligators out there
Gator's One-Stop is in Mississippi, not Louisiana.  It's in the small print in the photo above.  These aren't pictures of the gas station I'm talking about.  That one is even better.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Clio Suite (Update)

The first Captain America Movie
What we're really here to talk about today is the Clio Suite, the suite that has recently taken on "most romantic" status.  It used to be that we called Les Fleurs Suite the honeymoon suite, but we swapped the beds around and, now, I think Clio is more romantic.  
This isn't a recent picture of the bed
A canopy makes all the difference, not that you can tell from a picture from before we put the canopy up.  The plum pink and turquoise rooms are each complimented with a purple ceiling.  I know what you're thinking: What were they thinking?  It works because these are oversized rooms and the ceilings are twelve-and-a-half feet high.  

The Clio Suite is on the second floor, atop a steep winding staircase.  The suite is made up of two spacious rooms, one for sitting and one for bed.  There is also a private bathroom with an antique claw foot tub equipped with a shower.  The whole inn is air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter.  The bed is a new mahogany queen bed.    

Clio Suite has a private balcony that overlooks Esplanade Avenue.  Here is the view:
View from the Clio Suite
There is an antique mirrored armoire in the bedroom, as well as an antique marble-topped dressing table.  The sink is in the bedroom as well, European-style.  It's all very cheerfully elegant.  We just commissioned a painting from a local artist to hang over the mirror over the sink.  It's title?  You are my sunshine.  That's also the title of Louisiana's state song.

We can listen as we go along.

Here are three pictures of the sitting room:
Clio Suite sitting room, hallway door closed

The Clio Suite sitting from the hallway

Clio Suite sitting room, looking lakeside.
The sitting room has a very comfortably upholstered leather love seat, armchair and ottoman.  The whole suite is inspired by the statue in the triangular park across the street from us, Gayarre Place.  The statue in the park is named Clio, after the Muse of History and Genius of Peace.

Rates include complimentary wi-fi, a refrigerator stocked with complimentary beverages at check-in, a coffee maker, a tea kettle, hair dryer, iron, ironing board, and all the same amenities as our other suites in case I left something out.  Rates also include breakfast.  We put out a delicious spread every morning.  

Did I mention the ceilings are purple?
The fleurs-de-lis is one symbol of New Orleans
The best way to check our availability and to make reservations is through our website: We offer some rooms you can't find anywhere else.

UPDATE OF THE UPDATE: I finally took pictures of the bed now that's it's put together.  You can see those pictures by clicking on this sentence.  

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Believe what you read on Trip Advisor

The guy on the new Ye Olde College Inn sign
I was talking to Larry, who looks like Mr. Dinkle, and he was telling me about one time he spent the night at the Motel 6 out on Bullard Avenue.  It sounded like a horror story.

"It's all true," Larry said, "You can read a review on Trip Advisor."  He was right.  It was quite the lodging adventure.  

We never get reviews like that.  Sometimes, I think it's a conspiracy.  The kind of adventures people have on Esplanade Avenue are the stuff good memories are made of.
La Belle Esplanade
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ye Olde College Inn, New Orleans, LA

Ye Olde College Bake Shoppe
Officially, it's called just plain old Ye Olde Bake Shoppe, but everybody calls it Ye Old College Bake Shoppe.  It's owned by the same people as Ye Olde College Inn, which, interestingly enough, does not append a silent E to Inn.  Ye Olde is old-timey enough for that place and not just because it's old school.

It's a classic New Orleans neighborhood restaurant that we like to think has raised the bar, not higher, but over to the side.  It's no better than Liuzza's or Mandina's; those joints are the best and this one is just as good.  Ye Old College Inn is different in a good way that sets it apart from the other two, and they're not the same either.  If you've been to all three, you know what I'm talking about.  

Don't eat at all three of them if you're only in New Orleans for two nights.  You'll be stuffed for a week after you get home... and then you'll have missed Jack Dempsey's.
New Ye Olde College Inn sign
The ambient humidity was screwing up my phone as I walked from Ye Olde College Bakery to Ye Olde College Inn.  The photo above doesn't do the new sign they've installed any justice.  It was a beautiful day, as it usually is in New Orleans.  

When the new sign went up, I remember noticing that the restaurant had acquired a new mascot.  
Mr. Ye Olde College Inn
I don't know the official name for the man on the new Ye Olde College Inn sign, but I've heard some people refer to him as Mr. Dinkle.  For instance: "You remember Larry who we saw at Chickie Wah Wah, two weeks ago?  That guy who looks like Mr. Dinkle?"  Of course I remember Larry.  He looks like the guy on the new Ye Olde College Inn sign.

Don't worry, they've preserved the old sign.  They just moved it to the uptown side of the building.  
Old Ye Olde College Inn sign
In the old days, they didn't anthropomorphize their mascot.  That role was played by an oyster loaf, and a half.  That small print between the loaves reads, "almost actual size."  They still make 'em.

It's a little out of the way, but we like to recommend Ye Olde College Inn.  It's right next to the Rock 'n' Bowl and it's owned by the same people.  They also own the little farm next door.
Mid-City Lanes sign
Its official name is Mid-City Lanes, Home of the Rock 'n' Bowl, but everybody just calls it the Rock 'n' Bowl.  They have Zydeco Night every Thursday.  

A votre santé,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

City of Champions

Portrait of Pic Aveno
It's always a pleasure to wander around the New Orleans Athletic Club.  It's full of mementos from the club's long and storied history.  Unfortunately, the club is only open to members.  It's a common charade for people to pretend they want to join in order to get a free tour of the place.  I'm not recommending anyone do this, mind you, but we do know people who have done it. 

Of the many portraits that hang in the NOAC's hallowed halls, is the picture of Pic Aveno.  It always catches my eye because the photograph is askew in its frame and I think its a shame that nobody has fixed this.  I would volunteer to do it myself, but they probably field enough suggestions from crackpots.

Here's what the plaque on the frame says:
New Orleans history
"Henry L. "Pic" Aveno.  The Y.M.C.A. and South's greatest amateur wrestler.  1905-06-07-08-09-10.  Died August 29, 1985."

He lived to a ripe old age.  See what exercise can do for you?

We don't think any of our guests have pretended to want to join the NOAC just to see the inside, and don't you do it.  It's a busy place.

As far as we know, none of our guests have gone inside the Entergy office on the corner of Canal Street and South Jefferson Davis Parkway.  There's really no need unless you live here.  It's the power company, both electricity and natural gas.  Allow me to show you what it's like to live here:
Inside the Entergy Office, New Orleans
I've been lucky enough to have gone in three times in four years, the last two times were in the past two days.  Lucky me.  Everyone who works there is a joy to talk to.  

I like to go before noon because there's usually an older gentleman who sets up a folding TV tray next to his folding chair on the sidewalk by the entrance.  He's selling pralines.  I assume his wife makes them, but, of course, in New Orleans it's no shame for a man to make good pralines.  

We've eaten a lot of pralines over the two years we've been innkeepers.  That's why we always serve Loretta's.  I had a nice chat with Loretta this morning but I forgot to take a picture of her shop.

There's always next time.  After all, sweet memories are made in New Orleans.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How much do cigarettes cost in New Orleans?

Sign in a Pullman car
There's a special train that runs between Chicago and New Orleans that is made up of restored Pullman cars.  If you don't know what that means, here's a link.  Whoever designed that site is a little more enamored with cascading web pages than I am, but if you poke around, you'll get the idea of what it's about.  Here's the wikipedia entry for those who like their information dry, yet informative.  It's a non-smoking train.

Most people don't leave personal things behind when they leave our inn.  The most common thing we find is a stray sock.  We don't contact you if we find one of your socks because we figure you would lose it in the laundry anyway.  Besides, it will cost more to mail it than the cost of two new socks.  

Anything important, of course, like passports, we Fedex overnight to wherever you may be.  I had to do that last week.  We don't do it for free, of course, but we don't make a profit on it, either.

Speaking of non-smoking trains, this brings us to a topic I've been meaning to discuss: How much do cigarettes cost in New Orleans?
Gas station fence, New Orleans
We were at Orleans Grocery and Gas the other day and that reminded me that I had taken a few pictures there a few weeks ago.  I made a mental note.  "What are you doing now?" Frau Schmitt asked, and I told her our guests might be interested in how much cigarettes cost in New Orleans.  "I don't think that's very interesting," she said, but she doesn't smoke.  She is usually right about these things, but I'm betting she's not... this time only.
Orleans Grocery and Gas.  Po' Boys-Deli-Seafood
I took these pictures a few weeks ago, so the photos are not up to date.  I doubt the prices have changed much.  Cigarette taxes are laughably low in Louisiana compared to other states.  You see, our governor, presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal, is against taxes of all kinds.  Most of the citizens of Louisiana seem to be against receiving government services, so it works out just fine.  Frau Schmitt and I?  We're agnostic on this matter.  

For an extra $5.00, though, you can have "I'm a Cajun" printed on your driver's license or state-issued ID card.
Between two cars in New Orleans
If you stay with us, we don't encourage you to sit in your room and watch TV.  We only have basic cable.  If you really want to watch TV, do it the way New Orleanians do it.  Go to a bar.  They do all sorts of things in the bars in New Orleans, including their laundry.   They even allow smoking is in bars.
Next to an ice machine in New Orleans
You can't smoke in every bar, but there are plenty where you can if that's your thing.  You can't smoke in restaurants anymore, though, so don't get any smart ideas. 
Cigarette prices in New Orleans
The city tried to pass a local cigarette tax this year.  The city's budget is in dire straits and the mayor wants to raise new revenue.  If the city wants to pass a new tax, it needs to get permission from the state.  The matter was briefly debated in the legislature this session, and the bill died in committee.  The governor never would have signed it anyway.

I don't smoke cigarettes either, but I've been known to enjoy a cigar.   You don't have to go to a cigar bar to enjoy a cigar in New Orleans.  It's all live and let live, laissez les bon temps rouler!  You can smoke on the balcony, just don't smoke in our house.

Cigarettes are cheap in New Orleans, but life isn't.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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