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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

America's most French city

It's Bastille Day — or French National Day — and in New Orleans it's one more reason to celebrate. Today and tomorrow there will be lots of revelry in honor of the city's French heritage. You can view the events here.

But here's what's funny. Louisiana and its once capital city of New Orleans were founded by French Canadians, named for King Louis XIV of France and settled by French citizens, as well as Germans, Canadians and African slaves. But for a long period of time, Louisiana was under Spanish rule, which is why the French Quarter architecture is actually more Spanish than French (take a good look next time you're there and notice the balconies, the courtyards and Roman arches). In the 19th century, there was a huge influx of Germans, Irish and then Sicilians, among many other nationalities coming into our port.

If you could tap into the DNA of most New Orleanians, you might discover that the French side has been depleted if not gone altogether.

And yet, we're very French. We eat extremely well — as in really well. Our food commands attention worldwide. Which is why we live to eat, plan our days around a good meal and then spend ample time enjoying food with good company. Our French bread is to die for and I'll argue that nothing as good can be found in America. We parade at the drop of a hat — in fact, we don't need a reason to parade, we just do. And at the end of a hard day of work, we embrace life to its fullest and encourage others to do the same. That's one of the reasons people love to visit New Orleans, because they know they can be whomever they wish to be while here.

It's the joie de vivre — or the enjoyment of life — that the French left behind. We don't need Bastille Day to show it, but pourquoi pas? Why not?

And all this colorful history, fabulous culture and love of life is what I put into my Louisiana stories. Check out my Cajun Series of historical romances, my Cajun Embassy contemporary series and my new Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series featuring New Orleans ghost sleuth Viola Valentine.

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