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Joseph Boyden's favourite places in New Orleans

As Mardi Gras approaches, tourists draped in wreaths of beads are lured, voodoo-like, to New Orleans' French Quarter. But while its centre – Bourbon Street – might be good for one night of revelling, especially on March 4, there's much more to the city, says expat Canadian author Joseph Boyden.

"The Quarter is almost like the Disneyland version of New Orleans. Obviously you have to be careful, but there's just so much more to see. It's a city inspired by music and art that doesn't feel like anywhere else. It's a city of neighbourhoods that are very tight and very different from one another," says The Orenda author and long-time Crescent City resident. Boyden shares his favourite places to experience the real city.

Cochon

“Whenever somebody comes into town, my wife and I always bring them to Cochon. It’s an amazing Louisiana restaurant. You’ll want to book a reservation. It’s very south Louisiana-style cooking, Creole cooking, but a new wave of it. They do a really wonderful rabbit. They do ribs that are delicious. They do different types of greens. You can order lots of small things to share. It’s in the warehouse district, not far from the Quarter.” 930 Tchoupitoulas St., cochonrestaurant.com

Maple Leaf Bar

“It’s very low-key, old-school New Orleans with the tin ceiling, friendly bartenders and a little stage where the big brass band will pile on. It’s great for live music. It gets you way out of the Quarter, but it’s very accessible: the streetcar will take you right up to Oak Street. Right beside that, is a wonderful restaurant called Jacques-Imos, so you can make a night of it.” Maple Leaf Bar: 8316 Oak St., mapleleafbar.com; Jacques-Imos: 8324 Oak St., jacques-imos.com

Napoleon House

“It was a house in the French Quarter actually built by the mayor who had come up with the idea that he was going to rescue Napoleon from the island of Elba and bring him to New Orleans where he could live out his life. It’s now a restaurant and bar. They are famous for their muffulettas and their Pimm’s Cup. It’s just a really neat vibe.” 500 Chartres St., napoleonhouse.com

Great parks

“If you want to get away from the craziness, you can take a streetcar from the edge of the Quarter all the way up to Audubon Park, and see all the different architecture. It’s got a wonderful walking track, beautiful old oak trees and a small lake. And then by my house, there’s City Park. It’s got the New Orleans Museum of Art in there, a sculpture garden, restaurants, a nice little lake and those swan boats.” Audubon Park: 6500 Magazine St., auduboninstitute.org; City Park: 1 Palm Dr., neworleanscitypark.com

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

“There are two Jean Lafittes. One is a gay bar, and really fun from what I hear, but I’m talking about Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, one of the oldest bars in America. It’s a dark little bar with a piano player inside. It’s got a really neat vibe, too and it’s on the bottom edge of Bourbon Street.” 941 Bourbon St., lafittesblacksmithshop.com
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