I liked this three hour cycle tour around New Orleans a lot better than I thought I would!
If you know the French Quarter streets, you know they’re narrow and I was a bit nervous that drivers would be like Aucklanders and nudge me into the gutter – or the nearest jazz bar. But no, at 10am when we met Laura, our guide at Free Wheelin Bike Tours on Burgundy Street, the French Quarter was still asleep and we practically had the roads to ourselves.
Ten miles and three hours we rode through the colourful streets of French Quarter on their heavy American-made bikes with a basket under high handlebars and old fashioned brakes only in the pedals. We crossed roads and rang our bells as we cycled through the Marigny, over to the Bywater, up to the huge 1300-acre City Park (where the best beignets are) and back through Congo Square and Treme where some houses are still damaged from Katrina.
We stopped outside St Augustine church with the Cross of the Unknown Slave made from chains from a slave ship and hung with shackles, placed here in 2004 to commemorate all the slaves who met an untimely death in this very neighbourhood. We also had time to visit one of the incredible cemeteries with all their tombs and “ovens”.
We pedaled and through it all, stopping for photos in front of shotgun houses and under massive evergreen Southern live oaks. We ate beignets and took in the culture and history of this remarkable US city that is unlike any other in the state of Louisiana, let alone the US.
Laura, our guide with the electric battery sneakily attached to her pedals, really made it for me. She was born and raised here in New Orleans and has a way of summarising its history from French convicts to Spanish invaders, to Creole families, the local liberal values and today’s unique outlook on the world.
I would absolutely recommend this tour for a great way to get your bearings on this city. Ideally you’d do it on day one and then know where to head back to for the unique museums, markets or the best beignets in the city (sorry, it’s not you, Cafe du Monde!)
Click here to visit Free Wheelin Bike Tours to hire your own for a few hours or take a guided tour like we did.
If you liked this post, I think you’ll also like my Skulking Through the Cemeteries of New Orleans post from my previous visit when I did a tour there too!