This statue commemorates the bonds that exist between France and New Orleans. It stands just outside the city’s French Market, a gilded representation of Joan of Arc, the “Maid of Orleans.” This statue is an exact copy of those that also stand in Paris and in Joan of Arc’s birthplace at Orleans, France. When Charles de Gaulle visited New Orleans in 1959, he presented this copy of the statue to the city as a gift from the people of France. However, the city could not afford the $35,000 price tag to erect it, and stored it for eight years. People in both France and New Orleans eventually raised the money, and the statue was originally placed at the foot of Canal Street, but later moved to its present location at the French Market.
I made this image specifically to close this gallery. It embraces the heritage of New Orleans as well as many of the places we visited on this cruise through the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast. Louisiana’s roots remain French. The territory was claimed on behalf of Bourbon king Louis XIV by the French explorer LaSalle in 1682. New Orleans itself was named for the Regent of France, the Duke of Orleans. Finally, Napoleon sold New Orleans, as well as the entire Mississippi Valley and much of the Gulf Coast, to Thomas Jefferson in 1804. The three flags that fly above the statue underscore this “French Connection.” The Bourbon, Louisiana, and American flags all float in translucent colors upon a deep blue sky. Joan of Arc herself, seen here as a symbol in deep silhouette, represents the heart of this connection. Her own flag, the banner of her patron, Charles VII of France, echoes the thrust of those that fly overhead.