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    The heart of New Orleans is in the French Quarter, where brightly-painted colonial architecture is brought to life with smokin’ jazz bars and restaurants serving up Cajun classics. You can’t leave without tasting some authentic creole Jambalaya washed down with bourbon cocktails at a tucked-away speakeasy.

    New Orleans bursts with culture, and you might find yourself swept up in the flamboyant carnival that is Mardi Gras, or sashaying to saxophone solos at the Jazz Festival. At any time of year, you can check out dazzling costumes and Southern heritage at the city’s intriguing museums.

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    A New Orleans city break blends colourful Creole culture with fiery mouth-watering cuisine and rich musical heritage. Book a New Orleans hotel and ease on into this laid-back but lively city.

    Get your bearings

    New Orleans sits on an 8-mile stretch between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. The narrow 17th-century streets of the French Quarter make up the cultural heart of the city. Across Canal Street is the Central Business District and Warehouse District, home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, galleries, hotels and music clubs. A streetcar ride along St Charles Avenue from the French Quarter is the leafy Garden District, where blocks of palatial Greek-columned mansions sit under canopies of oak trees. A walk along the district’s Magazine Street takes in 6 miles of antique shops, jewellers, couture boutiques and art galleries.

    Local food flavours

    Creole cooking may dominate restaurant menus in New Orleans but the cuisine blends an extravagant mix of international flavours into something totally unique. Dig into a creamy crawfish etouffee or a spicy bowl of gumbo at a local Creole seafood counter. Tuck into a muffuletta sandwich stuffed with ham, salami, lettuce and marinated olives with a cold beer in a vintage 19th-century watering hole. Elegant dining is also part of the New Orleans lifestyle, and plenty of chefs create innovative twists on old recipes in their fancy dining rooms.

    New Orleans nights

    People come to the Big Easy to relax, listen to music, and party. The vibe is easygoing, and places welcome visitors the same way they would locals. The uninhibited party at the lively bars and clubs on Bourbon Street, while the sophisticated set sips cocktails at spots like the Carousel Revolving Bar. Swing to traditional jazz at Preservation Hall and Snug Harbor, or bop to the boogie-woogie piano at Tipitina’s. On Sunday morning, get inspired at gospel brunch at the House of Blues

    Living history

    Slip back into the early-17th century at Jackson Square, where stately Spanish-colonial buildings hide behind wrought-iron gates. Those with a taste for voodoo can marvel at the dolls and gris-gris ”magic” potions at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. A ride on the St Charles Avenue streetcar takes you past classical mansions in the Garden District

    Shopping for all budgets

    Antique stores, jewellery shops, used book stores and art galleries line Royal Street in the French Quarter, while Decatur Street is the place to find novelty shops and the Farmer’s Market. The Riverwalk Marketplace holds plenty of chains, high-tech shops, and souvenir outlets. Shoppers hunt for one-of-a-kind fashions and antiques along Magazine Street, in the Garden District. Over on Julia Street in the Warehouse District, browse paintings from local artists that adorn the many galleries.

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