New Orleans- Day 8 : fat tuesday and wandering

Today was mardi gras !

Yes, I know, it’s not really mardi gras, but every tuesday is fat tuesday if you really want it to be ;). And we really wanted it, so we went to the Blaine Kern factory, which produces most props and floats for the krewes who organize parades during the Fat Tuesday season in New Orleans. And between the number of krewes and other contracts with big shots like Disney, the factory is kept busy all year round!

In the warehouse, we walk between heaps of giant props, almost up to the ceiling sometimes. The props are re-used each year, but as the theme of the parades change, they are re-sculpted and repainted (and also repaired, because they often need it !). Among a crocodile and a princess, you might spot an artist working on what might be a future Poseidon

The company also recently bought a warehouse nearby who had been outfitted as a waiting room by a local entrepreneur. Because here in Louisiana it’s forbidden to have a casino on land, they all are on boats on the river. As a boat has a limited capacity, this entrepreneur wanted to have a waiting room ready for when he launched his casino. So he built this amazing room decorated with live oaks, bayous, a fake plantation  house, a star-filled ceiling and even frog and alligator animatronics. From the outside, it looks like just another warehouse, but when you step inside, you’re teleported in a garden in the countryside of Louisiana.

I know, I’m all disheveled, but it’s morning!
Yes, the props are huge (and these around even the biggest ones)!

But of course, just before the grand opening, the city notified him his permit for opening the casino didn’t come through. In a “totally” unrelated matter, the city authorized the first ever casino on land to open a few weeks later. So we learned 2 things : casino on land are still forbidden in Louisiana except in the city of New Orleans, and New Orleans is knows for its corrupted administrations.

They tried to get it furnished as it was back in 1850.

After the tour, we had to get back to a more real world. But the real world we had to get back to was New Orleans, which isn’t that bad afterall ;). So we took a walk in the French Quarter and went to visit one of the buildings around the main square, built around 1850 by a baroness with a pretty interesting life (she has, among other things, survived at being shot 4 times by her husband who wanted to get her inheritance!). The house was in an impressively good shape, and furbished with very nice furniture.

Then we when through the French Market, historically a very busy place where you could find anything and here a multitude of curses in a multitude of languages. But today all that’s left is a line of very touristic stands, and way too expensive local food (probably much less tastier than in the small local restaurants). So we continued towards Frenchmen street and ate local hot dogs (the alligator is definitely worth a try ! )

View of Saint Charles square

After going to a record shop with an impressive collection (where we bought random records), we wandered around town and on the Moon Walk (named after the nickname of a local politician, so not at all related to Michael Jackson). We definitely like this city, and were really happy to see more than just the French Quarter (which is still nice, but the city has much more to offer!).

Sunset on the Moon Walk

After this we went back home to have a beer and bake a quiche, and we thought the day had been well filled with new adventures. So we enjoyed our last night in the U.S

More news on our return trip in the next post  !

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