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It’s a town that never sleeps, seldom...

It’s a town that never sleeps, seldom misses a beat--a mixture of sights and sounds, noisy oyster bars, towering skyscrapers and the happy mood of the French Quarter with its horse-drawn carriages, jazz joints, the whistle of river boats plying the Mississippi (hauling tourists by day, romantics by night), Jackson Square with its artists, the fragrance of magnolia blossoms, chicory roasting at Cafe du Monde and the good smell of Creole cooking.

In the French Quarter, jazz flows night and day from places like Preservation Hall. Pure old-time jazz that brings to mind the ghosts of such greats as Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbeck, Emile (Stalebread) Lacoume, Alcide (Slow Drag) Pavageau and Jelly Roll Morton. Later, while the night people shuffle off to bed, the day people stroll along Royal, Toulouse, Dauphine and Chartres streets. New Orleans is a canvas that stretches unending, never fully completed, changing constantly, never dull.

Dining

--The Commander’s Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., is possibly the best restaurant in New Orleans. Marvelous seafood, Creole specialties served in an old Victorian mansion in the historic Garden District. For reservations call (504) 899-8221.

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--Galatoire’s, a French bistro at 209 Bourbon St. (a family restaurant with mirrored walls). Accepts no reservations but is worth the wait.

--K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, 416 Chartres St., is famous for its Cajun-style cooking. A specialty: blackened fish. Spicy, hot entrees. (K-Paul’s uses a pepper in place of an olive in its Cajun martinis.) Telephone (504) 942-7500.

--Antoine’s, 713 St. Louis St. Operated by the same family since 1840. More than a dozen separate dining rooms. Oysters Rockefeller, chicken, beef, seafood. An unending menu. Telephone (504) 581-4422.

--Arnaud’s, 813 Rue Bienville. French/Creole cuisine. Arnaud’s is called the grand dame of the French Quarter. A jazz brunch on Sunday. Call (504) 523-5433.

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--Brennan’s, 417 Royal St. Famous for its breakfasts as well as its lunches/dinners. Overrated, expensive. A romantic setting, though, for couples with stars in their eyes. Telephone (504) 525-9711.

--Cafe Sbisa, 1011 Decatur St. Creole cuisine, a jazz pianist and a Sunday brunch. Telephone (504) 561-8354.

--Court of the Two Sisters, 613 Royal St. A daily jazz brunch and gaslights in the patio of an evening. Telephone (504) 522-7273.

--Le Bistro, 733 Rue Toulouse. Operated in conjunction with Hotel Maison de Ville. Rated highly by New Orleans diners. Award-winning chef Susan Spicer has gained acclaim for her seafood dishes, pasta, chicken, veal, lamb, rabbit, quail, duck. A definite Provence/Mediterranean influence. Call (504) 528-9206. Note: Seats only 40 persons.

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--Olde N’Awlins Cookery. Occupies an 1849 building at 729 Conti St. Fine Cajun selections (blackened fish, barbecued shrimp, pasta with seafood, trout with pecans). The building once served as a brothel, later as a bistro/disco. The menu also lists jambalaya, gumbo, alligator. Items change daily. Nice atmosphere, inexpensive. Telephone (504) 529-3663.

--Princess Monaco’s, 912 Royal St. Both inside/outside dining (a spacious courtyard crowded with plants). This is an old carriage house. French/Creole cuisine. Inexpensive. Telephone (504) 561-0373.

Bed and Breakfast

Sarah-Margaret Brown operates a bed and breakfast service. Rooms, apartments and houses in neighborhoods throughout the city, including the French Quarter. Brown is already booking space for Super Bowl 1990. “It’s never too early to sew up accommodations for this big event (Jan. 28),” she insists. Rates: $25/$60 and up. In the French Quarter Brown will steer you to an apartment with a queen-size bed, living room, kitchen, balcony. Another in the French Quarter features an attractive courtyard with an entrance through a wrought-iron gate. Among other listings is an 1850s town house with lots of art, a four-poster bed. And off Royal Street there’s a two-story cottage with a courtyard, turn-of-the-century atmosphere, free off-street parking.

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Contact Sarah-Margaret Brown, New Orleans Bed & Breakfast, P.O. Box 8163, New Orleans 70182. Telephone (504) 822-5038.

Jazz

--Famous Door, 339 Bourbon St. Telephone (504) 522-7626.

--Pete Fountain at the Hilton Hotel. (Call to be sure Pete is playing, as he’s on the road occasionally.) (504) 561-0500

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--Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St. Call (504) 523-8939. Old-time musicians, lots of foot-stomping music.

Other Sightseeing

--Free tours by the National Park Service take in Jean Lafitte National Park & Preserve (the French Quarter, the Barataria Marshland on the West Bank of the Mississippi, the Garden District, cemeteries). Telephone (504) 589-2636.

--The St. Charles Street Car (oldest continuously operating street car in the United States) runs from Canal Street down St. Charles Avenue into the Garden District.

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--Mississippi River cruises on the Natchez ($9.50 for two hours) and the Creole Queen (three hours, $12).

--Natchez Steamboat and Bayou Jean Lafitte, 2340 World Trade Center. Telephone toll-free (800) 233-BOAT.

--Cajun Queen River Boat and the Creole Queen, Poydras St. Wharf. Call (800) 445-4109.

--Gray Line of New Orleans, 2345 World Trade Center. Call (800) 535-7787.

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--Family Tours & Service, 930 Lesan Drive. Telephone (504) 468-1688. Provides airport transfers, sightseeing, river-boat cruises, visits to plantation homes.

--Cypress Swamp Tours, 622 Napoleon Ave. Telephone (504) 581-4501. Tours of Cajun country.

--New Orleans Limousine Service, 3119 Jackson Ave. Telephone (504) 529-5226.

A Guide to New Orleans

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--The French Quarter is best seen on a walking tour (or for the weary there are horse-drawn carriages). Touring the Garden District can be done by street car, bus, automobile or taxi. Bronze plaques mark historic homes in the Garden District. Other tours take in cemeteries, numerous parks, suburbs and sights along the Mississippi.

--For maps and booklets, stop at the Greater New Orleans Tourist Bureau, Louisiana Superdome, 1520 Sugar Bowl Drive. Telephone (504) 566-5011. Other information from the Louisiana State Office of Tourism, 529 St. Ann St. Call (504) 568-5661.

--Antique buffs: Stroll along New Orleans’ Antique Row on Royal Street with its silver, china, jewelry, paintings, rugs, brass beds, gilt-edged mirrors, hutches and other fine furnishings.

--Visit Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo (site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase).

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--Relax over coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde on the Mississippi (within sight of artwork displayed on iron-lace fencing surrounding Jackson Square).

--See the Beauregard Keyes House, 1113 Chartres St. (a classic Greek Revival-style home built in 1826).

--Costumed figures can be seen at the Musee Conti Wax Museum, 917 Conti St. Telephone (504) 525-2605.

--A permanent collection of fine art is arranged in galleries at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Lelong Avenue in City Park. Call (504) 488-2631.

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--Stroll along Riverwalk, New Orleans’ new shopping mall on the Mississippi between Poydras Street and the Convention Center. Shops include Laura Ashley, Abercrombie & Fitch, Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers, Guy LaRouche, Charles Jourdans.

--Louisiana Superdome, Sugar Bowl Drive. Call (504) 587-3810. Tours seven days a week.

--New Orleans’ Jazz Club, 400 Esplanade Ave. Telephone (504) 455-6847. Instruments once owned by famous New Orleans musicians are on display.

--New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, 724 Dumaine St. Call (504) 523-7685. Crafts, lectures, dolls.

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--Black History Museum, 2522 Willow St. Telephone (504) 944-5134.

--Confederate Museum, 929 Camp St. Telephone (504) 523-4522. Civil War memorabilia.

--Louisiana State Museum, Jackson Square. Call (504) 568-6968.

Reader Recommendations

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California--Tom LaMarre, Newhall: “The Villa Royale is a terrific little hideaway in Palm Springs. European ambience, with each room decorated in the flavor of a different country. Three large brick courtyards, fountains, two swimming pools and a spa. Private spas with some rooms and three villas with private swimming pools also available. Breakfast and lunch served poolside. Summer prices from $49 to $225 single or double occupancy, winter from $65 to $325. Villa Royale, 1620 Indian Trail, Palm Springs 92264, (619) 327-2314.”

Mexico--Fran McCook, San Diego: “Went to San Jose del Cabo in Baja with two other couples to the villa/condos at the Aston Regis. Had a three-bedroom, three-bath unit, satellite TV in each bedroom plus a private Jacuzzi, private chef and unlimited golf on the only course in Baja Sur. The cost per couple, not including our air fare or food, was $780 for a week. Contact Concierge International Associates, 751 7th Ave., San Diego 92101.”

England--Ruth K. Klotz, Fullerton: “A lovely small country-house hotel called Woodhayes Country House Hotel, Whimple, Devon, England. Dinner, breakfast, large comfortable room with bath costs $185.”

England--Jane W. Bradley, San Diego: “For those who would prefer a tour with a personal touch (no more than two couples), Ron and Judy Smith offer such a holiday. Write to Leaways Tours, Grange Road, Felmersham, Bedford MK43 7EU. A picturesque village. After meeting guests at the airport, Ron and Judy deliver them to their home. Fine accommodations and delicious meals. When traveling, accommodations are in first-class hotels and you are their guests at restaurants. Their tour takes in London, Bath, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick Castle, Woburn Abbey, Cambridge (where you’ll enjoy an English picnic on the lawn), Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Althorp (former home of the Princess of Wales). When not on tour there will be a few free days to meet friends and neighbors in Felmersham, and discover the church built in 1207.”

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Montana--Tim Moriarty, Jerico, Vermont: Enjoyed The Three Pheasant Inn, 626 5th Avenue North, Great Falls, Mont. 59401. “Decorated in English Victorian style. Operated by Amy and Dave Sloan, a young couple with some great ideas and lots of enthusiasm. Rates: $30/$50.”

California--Jim and Shannon Hubbs, Irvine: “Praise for McGee Creek Pack Station, Route 1, Box 162, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. 93546. “They offer several types of vacation packages, including wilderness trail rides, weekend trips, breakfast and dinner rides and horse drives. Reservations are necessary.”

Canada--Dave Underwood, La Jolla: “An outstanding new bed and breakfast near Butchart Gardens in Greater Victoria. It’s called Green Acres, 5360 W. Saanich Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 4M6. Prices: $46.75/$72.25 (U.S.).”

France--Mrs. E. Benchetrit, Santa Monica: “A former California singer, Judi Lorick, is appearing at the piano bar in the Elysee Palace Hotel, 59 Promenade des Anglais in Nice. An absolutely marvelous artist. I advise all who travel to the French Riviera not to miss her.”

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France--Stanley Greenfield, Woodland Hills: “A most charming restaurant, Le Carillon, 10 Rue Portalis, Aix-en-Provence. Complete lunch for about 40 francs.”

England--Howie and Midge Keefe, Marina del Rey: “A new B&B; in London, Wellmeadow Guest House at Hanwell, Ealing. Write to 24 Wellmeadow Road, London W7 2AL. Thick towels, high-volume shower heads. Halfway between London Centre and Heathrow on the Piccadilly line. Only $50 per night for a double.”

England--Nancy Lehan, Fontana: “Rented an idyllic stone cottage converted from an ancient barn in the Cotswolds. Two double bedrooms, a beautiful conservatory and an immaculate English garden. For four of us the rate was a lot less expensive than a hotel. Under $300 a week in the spring. Write to E. Unsworth, 35 Lonsdale Square, London N1 1EW, England.”

England--Barbara Marcus, Los Angeles: Praises Tudor Journeys by Diana Collins, 5 Hambledon Road, London SW1 85UD. “Arranges many special tours, especially for film makers and literary buffs. London, half day: 75; whole day, 100. Other rates for other cities.”

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California--Lois Carl, Orange: “Step back in time at the Glen Tavern Inn, 134 N. Mill St., Santa Paula 93060. Has the feel of an old lodge. Rooms range from $39 to $75. There are weekend packages. A wonderful place to relax and unwind. Inquire about Elderhostel seminars.”

Recommendations must be brief (typewritten or printed). Only one recommendation per reader, please. Note: Recommendations will not be used unless prices and addresses are included.


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