Napoleon may have sold Louisiana as New France to the U.S. in 1803 for $15 million, but the city's ties to France reign on. In New Orleans, which commanded $10 million of that purchase price, connections to French culture, architecture, language and art are ever present.
Thankfully for Francophiles visiting the city, there are a handful of savvy retailers who channel The Marais with imported treasures.
The White Camellia
The White Camellia on Magazine Street uptown is a repository of imported French gems for the home and garden. Hand picked by owner Kell Bennett – a fluent French speaker who spent 12 years running the first American-inspired needlepoint store in Paris – the store's inventory entrances.
These spice kits, from The White Camellia, include recipes in French and English — Photo courtesy of The White Camellia
Gourmets will find imported honey and coffee, whole grain mustards and ceramic jars labeled "Herbs de Provence." For the outdoorsy gentleman, there are spice kits for game and for fish, complete with recipes printed in French and English. Bennett's eye for the unusual and the unusually beautiful is tres chic.
Gem de France
At Gem de France on Royal Street in the French Quarter, the story begins with two people falling in love. Owners Jean-Philippe and Sonia were both 5,000 miles from their homes in France, working in New Orleans, when they met on Mardi Gras Day in 2000.
Soon a couple, the pair joined forces to open Gem de France, an ooh-la-la shopping experience brimming with all things French, from housewares and textiles to stationery and bath salts.
Antiques de Provences
Also on Royal, Antiques de Provences specializes in 17th- and 18th-century French antiques, hand-carved French limestone fountains, garden accoutrements and antique French olive jars. If you get really carried away, you just may go home with a fab La Cornue country stove or a sparkling crystal chandelier.
There are several fragrant parfum shops in the French Quarter, starting with Bourbon French Parfums, which has its roots in a shop established by the first full-time parfumeur in New Orleans – August Doussan – who opened Doussan French Perfumery in 1843. Today, you can find custom blended fragrances like jeweled perfume bottles.
Hove Parfumeur was founded in 1931, and it continues to be locally owned and operated in the French Quarter on Chartres Street. French milled perfumed soaps, scented body oils and powders, custom blended fragrances and lotions offer an array of aromatic options.
Martin's Wine Cellar
Take a break from shopping at Martin's Wine Cellar on Magazine, where you'll find imported French cheeses and sandwiches like the French Connection – grilled ham and Swiss on a croissant – along with imported wines from every region from Champagne to Savoie.