After a great half-hour tour with Good Old Day Carriage Tours while in New Orleans, I decided to wander back down to Jackson Square the following weekend while Lars was at work and rope a driver into the hour-long tour that takes you to the cemetery where Marie Laveau was interred. It is much easier for the drivers to fill their carriages for $12 per person on those short 30-minute runs, so it took me a minute to get one to go. It took another 15 minutes approximately to get the Royal Carriage filled with another 5 folks. It was worth the wait.
The hour-long cemetery tour encompasses much the same sites as the shorter tour, but with other things added on. My main goal was to see that tomb I’d heard so much about. Marie Laveau is the most famous practitioner of Voodoo in the US. I say is rather than was because the locals believe she still can work her magic from the grave… and her ghost has been spotted numerous times, even slapping one passer-by.
St. Louis Cemetery is in the ‘bad’ part of town, just a few blocks past Bourbon Street. To be honest, there are two of them and I cannot recall if this was 1 or 2. It is the only one the carriage tours take you too, though… I think it is number 1, but not 100% certain.
Our driver parked the Royal Carriage buggy outside the dilapidated wall and stepped inside with us long enough to show us where Marie’s tomb was, then went back out to guard his rig while we were allowed to wander and snap pictures for about 15 minutes.
I know I am supposed to reviewing the Royal Carriage tour itself here, but I feel the need to tell you a bit about this cemetery because it’s just so damn cool.
This place dates back to the 1700s. Rather than the usual kind of graves found in the US, this one is full of family crypts. Along the outer walls is what they call Oven Crypts. The ummm inhabitants are stacked up on top of each other in their respective tombs.
Marie Laveau had a big crypt near the center kinda, and it was easily recognizable. You see, at the base people come from all over to leave her presents hoping for miracles. If you drop a coin for her there, it is said to bring you good luck. But there were also flowers and lots of candles. It’s just very cool to see and worth the $24 per person to take this longer tour.
After leaving St. Louis Cemetary, the driver then took a longer route back to Jackson Square and went all the way up Bourbon Street, remarking on the various businesses as we went. He even had info I didn’t know on places I had already been inside of. That was pretty cool. Now I need to go back to the Old Absinthe House again and check it out more thoroughly…
All of the carriage tour companies here use mules rather than horses. Mules are the result of breeding horses with donkeys. This mix provides for better heat tolerance, so by using mules these tours can run even on hot days. My one problem with this tour is that the poor mule kept almost falling down. I mean her legs just buckled under her more than once and I kinda wanted to make him stop and take her home for a check up. The Royal Carriage driver did say he would get her checked, but after getting back off the tour, I wandered awhile shopping the area and when I again passed the row of carriages there he was with that same mule loading up for another hour-long cemetary tour… that didn’t sit too well with me.
So. The buggy was in great shape and very comfortable, the tour was wonderful, and this is every bit the great bang-for-the-buck as the previous tour… but I just have issues with that poor mule being driven further when she clearly had something wrong, so I am only going with 3 stars out of 5 for the Royal Carriage tour company.
DO take the hour tour. Just maybe try to take it with the other company…