why does new orleans have a french influence

Less than 40 years later, perhaps weary of governing a troublesome colony, and feeling the threat of an ambitious French military leader, the brash young, Spain relinquished the Louisiana Territory and New Orleans back to France via another secret treaty, the Treaty of San Ildefonso, in 1800. However, faced with a slave uprising on the island of Saint Domingue (what is now the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the specter of a war with Great Britain over control of Louisiana, Napoleon had a decision to make: Rather than send troops to defend New Orleans, which the British saw for its value as a port, and the surrounding territory, the military leader dispatched 20,000 soldiers to Saint Domingue to quell the slave revolt, leaving New Orleans and French Louisiana essentially defenseless in the event of a British attack. Seeing an opportunity, President of the United States at the time, and his Secretary of State, decided to fashion an alliance of sorts with the French government. Part and parcel of this relationship was the future governance of Louisiana. Eventually, they negotiated the, a deal that included the huge 828,000 square mile-territory that includes New Orleans and the Mississippi River Valley, for $15 million.
Because the French founded and settled New Orleans, the city developed a unique outlook from its inception.


Even after the city s close relationship with France had ceased, the French attitude at the heart of the city s culture was the framework upon which New Orleans built its own traditions. The French were Catholic, not Protestant like the founders of most other New World settlements which eventually became American cities. The French Catholic did not share the unremittingly severe, sober view of life with the New England Puritans, for one. While religious, the French Catholics also enjoyed good food and sensual pleasures. , the most famous and raucous of New Orleans festivals, is a Catholic holiday after all. And in French, means Fat Tuesday a time of indulgence before the self-imposed austerity of Lent. The tension between the sacred and profane, the joyous and the mournful (as with, for example), has long formed an essential part of the Crescent City s character.


Early in New Orleans history, a coterie of Ursuline nuns were invited to establish a convent to give the colony spiritual guidance and instruction. They inducted people of all races, enslaved and free, into Catholicism and solidified New Orleans Catholic character. (In addition, they started a Catholic girl s school in 1727, the oldest one in America still operating. ) The Catholic nature of New Orleans helped attract future populations of immigrants that shaped the city, from Italians who for a while turned the into Little Italy to the Irish who built a canal important for New Orleans growth, from the Haitians who introduced voodoo in the early 19th century to the Vietnamese who arrived after the Vietnam War. Louisiana was claimed for France in 1682, and two brothers of the surname Le Moyne, formally known as Sieur d Iberville and Sieur de Bienville, founded New Orleans seventeen years later. La Nouvelle Orl ans was named in honor of the Duke of Orleans, France s ruling regent until the young Louis XV could take the throne, but the French name was also chosen to encourage French settlers who would have balked at coming to a place with an Indian name like Biloxi or Natchitoches.


Two French engineers laid out the first 66 squares of a walled village, what later would be known as the or the Vieux Carr (Old City). Streets were named after lesser royalty in the Duke s court. Indian hunters, German farmers, and trappers traded their goods in a clearing where the stands today. Even during forty years of Spanish rule, New Orleans remained unequivocally French. Schools taught lessons in French, newspapers published in French, and New Orleanians looked to France for culture and fashions. In 1803 when New Orleans permanently passed into American governance, the French Creoles found themselves at odds in many ways with the Americans moving in. Since then, New Orleans has become an American city, but its French heart is still beating. One of the best ways to discover French influence in New Orleans is to visit the city s restaurants. Check out our list below of delicious French dining venues:

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