St. Louis Cemetery #1 Tour

New Orleans isn’t quite like any other American city, and a step into one of our above-ground Cities of the Dead provides an instant reminder. St. Louis Cemetery #1, founded in 1789 and still functioning today, is the oldest of them, the resting place of famous New Orleanians of all kinds, and a must-see on any trip to our city.

BOOK TOUR

Meeting in the French Quarter, this tour will take you on a short walk by the oldest church building in New Orleans, to the cemetery, where we’ll discuss the lives of the cemetery’s inhabitants, our colorful and musical funeral traditions, and the strange means by which a small tomb can contain dozens of people.

Possible highlights of the tour include:

  • The famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau
  • Homer Plessy, the father of the American civil rights movement
  • Myra Clark Gaines, who brought the longest civil court case in US history
  • Benjamin Latrobe, the father of American architecture
  • Massive and elaborate tombs for French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian benevolent societies
  • Where the makers of the 1969 film Easy Rider got filmmaking banned in the cemetery forever
  • A tomb fenced with cannons, honoring the New Orleans Battalion of Artillery
  • Bernard de Marigny, ultimate New Orleans playboy and former owner of the Marigny neighborhood
  • Paul Morphy, the greatest chess player of the 19th century
  • A tomb just for musicians
  • “Oven vaults” built into the cemetery walls
  • Etienne de Boré, who turned Louisiana into the sugar capitol of the United States
  • A separate burial ground for Protestants
  • The presumed eventual resting place of Nicolas Cage

Note: Because of a sudden recent increase in vandalism, the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, which owns and cares for St. Louis Cemetery #1, has closed the cemetery to the general public. Access is only available through city-licensed, Archdiocese-approved tour guides such as ours.

This tour is offered Thursday through Monday at 11:00am and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Reservations are required for all public tours and can be made online.

Music, Arts and More Tour


Bridging three very different neighborhoods, our Music, Arts and More tour combines some of the city’s most colorful history with recommendations on the best musical and cultural events going on while you’re in town. In the Treme, we’ll see where African, European, and American cultures blended to make jazz and other American music possible; in the French Quarter, we’ll see art galleries, theaters, museums, street performers, and the hangouts of literary mischief-makers; and in the Marigny, we’ll walk Frenchmen Street, the best area for local-flavored music in New Orleans today. Along the way, your tour guide will also play DJ and curator, sharing music and visuals to let the artists speak for themselves.  

Highlights include:  

  • Congo Square, where African performance traditions were preserved from colonial New Orleans to today
  • Monuments to great musicians in Louis Armstrong Park
  • The music and “performance” of Bourbon Street
  • A museum showcasing the garish visuals and brilliant satire of Mardi Gras
  • Former homes of William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams
  • Hubs of French Quarter street performance
  • Folk art and how you can see it in the work of New Orleans artists today
  • How artists saved the French Quarter
  • Frenchmen Street and what music is playing there tonight

 
Reservations are required for all public tours and can be made online.

Robi’s Voodoo Tour

Feared, maligned, and misunderstood for many years, the voodoo religion is taking its story back in the 21st century. Headed by women and honoring family, ancestry, and community, this religion blends Louisiana’s historically dominant Catholicism with secretive African traditions, kept in the hearts and memories of people forced into slavery, and researched and brought back into the open by modern practitioners.

Your guide, Robi, is a practicing priest, raised in the rarely seen plantation voodoo tradition of Louisiana and also ordained in Haitian voudou.

Highlights include:

  • Congo Square, the site of more than two centuries of African ritual and performance
  • Demonstration of elements of a voodoo ceremony, including live dancing
  • How African traditions survived centuries of active repression
  • Stories of New Orleans’ most famous voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau
  • An insider’s view on the voodoo community in New Orleans today
  • The truth about voodoo dolls
  • Herbal medicine and potions
  • A stop by a voodoo shop and religious space, where you can see altars and religious art or buy some gris-gris to bring home

Due to limitations on logistics and regulations by the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, this tour does not visit St. Louis Cemetery #1, the burial site of Marie Laveau, instead visiting one of the places where she lived.

This tour takes place Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm and lasts approximately two hours. Reservations are required for all public tours and can be made online.

New Orleans Civil War Tour

Although far from the battlefields of Virginia and Tennessee, New Orleans was a pivotal city during the American Civil War. As the south’s largest city and port, its capture was a major objective for the North. The capture of the city in April 1862 is widely seen as one of the worst defeats suffered by the Confederacy. This tour offers a comprehensive look at New Orleans before, during, and after the Civil War, examining its role in the slave trade, secession, its dramatic capture in April 1862, and the effects the war had on New Orleans. Before the Civil War, New Orleans had more banks and millionaires than New York City. After, the city began a slow economic decline.

Join Real New Orleans Tours for a look at a pivotal time in American and New Orleans history. The tour is given by Sean Michael Chick, a published Civil War historian.

Reservations are required for all public tours and can be made online.