Known as the oldest market in the United States, the French Market is the area of the French Quarter along the Mississippi River where Decatur Street splits in a "Y" with North Peters Street. In this "Y" sits the open air shops and stalls of the Market.
While always bustling, weekends are by far the best days to wander around with a cool summer drink, browse and shop or sit down at one of the wonderful food counters offering everything from Alligator bites and gumbos to muffalatas and oysters on the half shell. Every kind of Cajun and Creole dish (and spices!) that you could possibly want you'll find here.
The special part of the French Market--aside from its patriarchal status among open-air markets--is the hustle and bustle of commerce, the laughing of friends and visitors and the sense that you are really among the locals. Part farmer's market, part casual open air dining and a final part flea market, locals and visitors alike flood the area and give it life.
Some will say it's "touristy". This is New Orleans. And the French Quarter in particular. Almost everything could be considered touristy. Of course there are those little spots where not many tourists venture--not highlighted on maps with places to see and things to do. These are the blocks that take you a step back in time, and at the right time of day or night, you'll feel like you've been transported back. The pirates and prostitutes; late night jazz and brass bands.
There's a healthy patina of sin that's accumulated over nearly 300 years of history and, in that time, ownership by three different nations and a bustling port that's infused many European, Caribbean, North and South American cultures into the stew that is New Orleans. And it's distinctly felt when one walks through the Market.