Located in the heart of New Orleans’ vibrant French Quarter, the French Market is a grand bazaar that serves as much as a cultural meeting place as it does a market space. In addition to hosting stall after stall of vendors hawking handmade goods and artisanal foods, the market doubles as a venue for a daily flea market and a twice-weekly farmers market. The French Market boasts the superlative as the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the United States, making it a part of living Louisiana history.
The sights, sounds, and smells of the French Market are enough to induce sensory overload for those who rush through. Instead, take your time wandering the stalls of crafts and culinary delights, stopping to bite into a beignet at New Orleans’ iconic Cafe du Monde or to slurp oysters at one of the market restaurants specializing in Cajun and Creole cuisine. See the market in the broader context of New Orleans by visiting on a guided walking tour of the French Quarter that may stop at nearby attractions such as Jackson Square, Decatur Street, Bourbon Street, and the Old Ursuline Convent. Small-group tours and private tours of the French Market and French Quarter offer opportunities for more personalized experiences and exposure to things you might otherwise miss.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Check the market’s event calendar for a complete list of special shopping opportunities and performances.
- The market includes three cafés, two sit-down restaurants, five confectionaries, and over 10 other bistro-style eateries.
- Shopping ranges from inexpensive flea market bargains to middle-end retail and specialty shops.
- The French Market is accessible to strollers and wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Located along North Peters and Decatur Streets, and bordered by the Mississippi River, the French Market is hard to miss while you’re in the French Quarter. Walk there from any downtown or French Quarter location, catch the Riverfront Streetcar, or take Marigny-Bywater Bus #5 or Elysian Fields Bus #55.
When to Get There
The French Market is open year-round. Every vendor has slightly different hours, but generally speaking, most vendors are open from 9am to 6pm. Wednesday and Saturday farmers markets promise more varied shopping options and larger crowds. Wednesday markets have live music, cooking demonstrations, and fresh produce from local farms from 1pm to 5pm, while Saturday markets have more prepared foods.
Historical Shopping in New Orleans
The French Market plays an important role in New Orleans history and has existed on the same site since 1791, where it was founded as a pre-colonization trading post on the banks of the Mississippi River. Popular items sold over the centuries include pralines, calas (Creole rice fritters, big in the 19th century), herbs, spices, handmade Native American crafts, and coffee—which played a central role in the social life of the market, both day and night.