In the heart of the French Quarter lies Napoleon House, a historic landmark named for the French emperor, part of a daring plan to rescue him from exile. Napoleon never visited the city, but the building—which now houses a restaurant serving classic NOLA cuisine—remains a testament to the ingenuity of the city’s inhabitants.
In 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte living in exile on the island of St. Helena off the coast of West Africa. At the time, there was a lot of support for the French in New Orleans and some local residents hatched a plan to rescue the emperor. One of the conspirators, Nicholas Girod—a former mayor of New Orleans—offered to host the emperor at his home at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis streets.
As luck would have it, Napoleon died before the plan could be put into place but the name of the house stuck. A restaurant opened here in 1914, and, in the years since, Napoleon House has become one of the city’s most well-known restaurants and bars, popular with visitors taking walking tours who come to see the building and learn about the history, and also with diners looking for a taste of authentic Southern cuisine.
Things to Know Before You Go
The bar is famous for its Pimms Cup—a cocktail made with Pimms (a British gin-based liqueur), lemon-lime soda, and a slice of cucumber.
The restaurant’s signature dish is the muffaletta, an Italian-style sandwich of cured meats, cheese, and olive spread served warm on a sesame roll.
The house is a National Historic Landmark.
The restaurant was featured in the Oliver Stone movieJFK.
How to Get There
Napoleon House is located at 500 Chartres Street, at the corner of St. Louis Street. The Decatur and St. Louis bus stop, and the Toulouse streetcar station are both close by. The house is walkable from other points in the French Quarter and is a frequent stop on guided tours of the city.
When to Get There
Napoleon House restaurant and bar is open from 11am to 10pm Sunday to Thursday, and 11am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The exterior of the house is accessible 24 hours a day. The restaurant can get busy at lunch and dinner, reservations are not required.
Explore the Shops at the French Market
Open daily, the French Market on Decatur Street is home to a wide variety of stalls selling everything from homemade pralines, to vintage clothing and NOLA-themed Christmas ornaments. Just down the block you’ll also find the famous Cafe du Monde, where visitors come to try the delicious sugar-topped beignets and hot coffee.
- New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
- New Orleans School of Cooking
- Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
- Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC)
- Steamboat Natchez
- Court of Two Sisters
- French Quarter
- Preservation Hall
- 1850 House
- St. Louis Cathedral
- Jackson Square
- The Presbytère
- Hotel Monteleone
- Musical Legends Park