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Discover the French Quarter through the eyes of our tourism team. Our guides, mule groomers, tour sales reservationists, and everyone in between are a family who takes pride in our culture and giving back to the community. Check back often to get the latest in our New Orleans news!

How to incorporate carriage transportation into your New Orleans Wedding?

Posted by Nancy Landry on April 26, 2017

Whether you want a unique exit to express your style or a fun way to give your bridal party and even your guests a lift too, there are lots of hot options for your wedding wheels. Wedding planners and brides enjoy thinking outside of the box with Royal Carriages. Our mule-drawn carriage company provides guests with an unforgettable experience for weddings and other special events.

Royal Carriages has specialized in carriage tours and transportation in the New Orleans area for over 75 years. Our authentic carriages can accommodate between two and eight passengers, so you can even bring your honor attendants, along, or rent multiple carriages to lead the entire wedding party on a royal-style procession. Royal Carriages can transport 85 guests at once with our fleet. Make your New Orleans wedding truly authentic with Royal Carriages.

With the costs of second-line bands, permits, and police escorts, many wedding couples are choosing to let the good times roll by using authentic carriages as a celebratory activity for the wedding guests. Imagine your own mule-drawn procession through the old streets of New Orleans. By doing so, our carriages provide all guests, no matter the age, the opportunity to share in the excitement of your special event.

 


 Graphic Design: MidnightBoheme.com | Photographer: ArtsyPhotographer.com 

 

CARRIAGE RIDE TO THE CEREMONY: The bride can share this special moment with her father or her bridesmaids, as the carriage transports her to the church or ceremony. 

CARRIAGE RIDE TO THE RECEPTION: While the guests arrive at the reception, enjoy a carriage ride, or even a carriage tour, of the French Quarter. This allows enough time for your guests to get to the reception and gives you a grand entrance to the party. 

AFTER RECEPTION CARRIAGE RIDE: Wedding Carriage Transportation after the reception allows the bride and groom to rest their tired feet, allowing the newlyweds the opportunity to cuddle up and enjoy a relaxing and romantic midnight carriage ride, ending at their hotel. 

Royal Carriages is available for: 

  • Wedding Carriage Transportation
  • Rehearsal Dinners
  • Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
  • Family Familiarization Tours
  • Wedding & Anniversary Gifts
  • Ceremony/Reception Venue Rental
  • Bridal Photo Shoots
  • Surprise Engagement Proposals

The Story of Royal Carriages: A Family Tradition

Posted by Nancy Landry on April 22, 2017

In the early 1940's, Clem and Violet Lauga purchased one horse and a cart from Aunt Sally's Pralines to sell rides in the French Quarter in New Orleans, La. Shortly thereafter, he purchased a carriage and began giving tours around the French Quarter. He quickly realized that the carriage tour business was possible, and Royal Carriages (originally Gay 90's Carriages) began. 

Clem and his wife, Violet, ran the business until the early 1970's. Their son, James Lauga Sr., was a fighter pilot and served in the Vietnam War. James Sr. had plans to follow his dreams of flying commercial aircraft after he completed his combat tour in 1971, and had already applied to various companies. Upon returning to his home in New Orleans, he found his father was very ill and he began managing Royal Carriages to assist his family's business. 

"My first day at work was on a Friday night shift, and when I arrived at the stable, I was surprised to see that the crew of carriage drivers were nowhere to be found!" said Jim. "I was perplexed because Friday night is always an ideal time to work, but I believe word had gotten out that the owner's son was going to show up to manage the shift, so they decided to protest this intrusion and have a 'sick out.' That was the start of my 45-year career with Gay 90's...now Royal Carriages."

Most other businesses in the New Orleans Carriage industry used retired racehorses from the nearby track in Gentilly. In 1972, Jim Sr. saw an article about Dick Reese of Gallatin, Tennessee. He and his sons were in the mule business and sold most of their mules for the Grand Canyon Trail concession. As someone who grew up watching mules work in New Orleans, Jim flew up to meet Dick and his family and was astonished as to the quality of draft mules he was shown. Shortly thereafter, Reese shipped six sorrel draft mules to New Orleans and Royal Carriages has used mules exclusively ever since. 

Mules are stronger, smarter, eat less, don't get sick as often, and are more suited to work the hot semi-tropical climate conditions of New Orleans. Jim compares mules and horses to diesel and gas tractors. "The mule is like a diesel tractor and the horse is like a gas tractor, and well, we all know the diesel tractor is the better tractor!"

In the late 1970's, New Orleans suffered particularly brutal summer heat and the retired race horses owned by other carriage companies suffered greatly, but the mules owned by Royal Carriages were unwavered by the extreme conditions. Nonetheless, the City of New Orleans wanted to eliminate the horse-drawn carriage industry fearing that there was no hope for the horses to survive.  Jim Sr. and Dr. Biermann DVM spoke to the New Orleans City Council about the amazing attributes of the mule and assured the council that these hybrid animals were much better suited for this climate that horses. Weight was even a concern to the City Council, and Jim Sr. loaded a handful of men and women aboard one of his carriages and pulled the carriage full of councilmen and women down to the street to prove that if a man can do it, so can a mule. Thanks to Jim Sr. and Dr. Biermann's dedication to preserving the tradition of mule-drawn carriages in the French Quarter, the carriage industry remained and the city of New Orleans created a regulation requiring only mules to be used during the summer months. 

There are currently four carriage companies in the City of New Orleans. Royal Carriages remains to be the oldest of the original surviving companies and celebrated its 75th Anniversary in October 2017 at its stables, located at 1824 North Rampart Street, just a few blocks outside of the French Quarter. The stable was originally built in the 1850s and was originally owned and operated by a local undertaker. Spare stalls and yard space where rented to horse-drawn vendors, like Clem in 1941. The Lauga Family purchased the stable property in the 1970's and have operated their mule-drawn tour business from this location since 1941.  The Royal Carriages Mule Stable is considered to be the oldest operating stable in New Orleans and Royal Carriages is considered to be the oldest commercial carriage operator in the United States. 

Although the stable was not damaged during Hurricane Katrina, the carriage business suffered greatly. The natural disaster in 2005 nearly bankrupted the 75-year-old family-owned and operated carriage company. The Lauga Family still had to maintain its stable property and farms while caring for over 50 carriage mules but the absences of visitors to New Orleans for nearly three years proved that surviving this economic crisis may not be a possibility for Royal Carriages. Many employees were lost in the floodwaters or scattered across the United States, and Royal Carriages nearly lost its entire workforce. A few drivers returned to the city to help rebuild homes and reestablish their former careers as carriage driving tour guides, but the lack of business was not easy for anyone to deal with.  Jim Sr. and his son James were forced to take out a very large SBA loan to keep the company in business, using James Sr.'s personal residence as collateral. It took 10.5 years to pay off the loan, but Royal Carriages survived and it finally back to where it was before Hurricane Katrina. 

James Sr. is now semi-retired and says that his favorite thing about his mule-drawn carriage tour business is to know that it is in very good hands since his son James Jr. has taken over as General Manager. James Jr. is committed to excellent tours and hospitality in addition to superior animal care and training. With the recent addition of two new beautiful girls to the Lauga Family, James Jr. can only hope that one will choose to be the 4th generation of Royal Carriages to keep the family legacy and mule-drawn tradition alive for another 75 years.

 

French Quarter Carriage Ride in New Orleans

Posted by Nancy Landry on April 14, 2017

The French Quarter has always been a unique destination for travelers and our mule-drawn carriage rides allow visitors to discover the old world charm in the most authentic way. While walking tours and bus tours dominate the modern day market in New Orleans and in most other major destinations, our mule-drawn adventures provide an unparalleled experience that allows visitors to ride through the historic neighborhoods while interacting with a local and professional guide offering his or her own unique, personal presentation of each historically accurate tour, all while comfortably seated on a mule-drawn carriage ride. Each carriage holds no more than eight passengers, ensuring an intimate small group tour experience each and every time. I assure you that our carriage ride provides a very different perspective compared to other previous horse-drawn tour experiences you may have had in other cities.

Many visitors to New Orleans are shocked at the relaxed neighborhood feel of the French Quarter, the abundance of gingerbread architecture, and the "looseness" of the pretty much everything. I guess that's one of the main draws to our city besides the historic importance. As someone who drove carriages for two years, from my experience I have learned that one of the best aspects of a tour experience for visitors is having a meaningful connection with someone like a warm and hospitable tour guide. It's like making a new friend in a new city. I have many fond memories of all of the wonderful people that have positively impacted me during my time as a driver, like the one time I let an 80-year-old Swedish former horse-drawn buggy racer take the reigns. "Oh what a joy it is to drive a carriage in old New Orleans," he said to me.

Our mules are one of the primary reasons that the carriage industry is so unique and different from other carriage industries in America. Instead of horses, we use the original hybrid, an animal created by man that is known to be one of the hardiest animals on Earth. Mules are considered to be smarter, stronger, and more sure-footed than horses. Mules are also extremely well adapted for desert travel (think Grand Canyon mules) meaning they are more resistant to extreme temperatures like the humid subtropical climate of New Orleans. You may have heard rumors that mules are stubborn, but we assure you that is actually a sign of their superior intelligence. 

Our carriage driving tour guides are another differentiating aspect for our industry. Instead of monotone fact-tellers that you may have encountered with your own previous tour experiences, our carriage driving tour guides are passionate storytellers who focus primarily on historical entertainment, weaving the stories of the former glory of the old French Quarter with modern day life in New Orleans. If you don't believe us, check out our excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. Who said history has to be boring? A mule-drawn carriage ride is so much more than a historical introduction to the French Quarter. A carriage ride with Royal Carriages is an immersive experience where visitors time-travel to an era that they did not know existed, hearing stories of New Orleans most influential characters, be it a voodoo priestess, womanizing politician, millionaire toddler, or well-known celebrity. In addition to historical stories, discover other fascinating news such as real estate prices, movie filming, and recommendations for restaurants and attractions. 

So next time you visit the French Quarter in New Orleans and you are searching for a fun way to sight-see, consider taking a mule-drawn carriage ride with Royal Carriages. We promise that you'll fall in love with the experience, the mules, and the carriage driving tour guides. 

Royal Carriages featured on The Travel Channel's Trip Testers

Posted by Nancy Landry on February 03, 2017

In their new show, travel writers Jason Kessler and Jeff Miller determine if activities at the world's most popular vacation destinations live up to the hype. These seasoned travel writers explored with French Quarter on an authentic mule-drawn carriage with Charlotte Jones and Mrs. Parker. Both Jason and Jeff were an absolute pleasure to tour around and we look forward to seeing their mule-drawn adventure. 

What's the absolute funniest part of filming with Jason and Jeff? 

Probably the fact that they didn't know that Charlotte Jones was our newest carriage driver! She was super nervous but she took the challenge like any pro-guide would. We love Charlotte's humor and passion for New Orleans, it's buildings, musicians, and accepting culture. Outside of driving mule-drawn carriages, she can be found working with local non-profits, listening to live jazz, and hanging out with her two dogs named Laverne and Shirley. 


Those two guys are the hosts of the TV show. They told Charlotte to just act natural! Ha! Great job, y'all!! We're looking forward to seeing the final results. #mulesofinstagram #mules #likealocal #beatouristnola #carriagetour #carriageride #jacksonsquare #travelchannel #travel #explore by @neworleanscarriages

 


Instagram by @neworleanscarriages

Travel Tips: How to Celebrate the First Day of Mardi Gras Carnival in New Orleans

Posted by Website Admin on January 06, 2017

2016 was such a wonderful year for Royal Carriages. Together, the entire team at Royal Carriages really accomplished a lot of wonderful firsts throughout the year. We like to thank you for your contributions throughout the year and we look forward to a wonderful New Year!

Today, even though it’s raining in New Orleans, we are happy to celebrate the beginning of our Mardi Gras Carnival season by parading and eating king cake. Mardi Gras season always begins on January 6th of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. The first parades are supposed to roll tonight, but rain has interfered, and a few are postponed. The first parades of the season are always that of Phorty Phunny Phellows and Joan of Arc.

Phorty Phunny Phellows Streetcar Parade


Phorty Phunny Phellows, a streetcar filled with costumed revelers, has paraded down St. Charles Avenue since 1878. At this time, the Krewe of Rex was only six years old, making Phorty Phunny Phellows one of the oldest carnival traditions in New Orleans. If you are visiting our city and love hijinks and satirical mockery, then you should make plans to attend the nonsense on January 6. Click here to learn more about Phorty Phunny Phellows and see the parade route.

Joan of Arc French Quarter Parade

The gilded bronze statue of Saint Jeanne d’Arc, a symbol of our French cultural heritage, was a gift from France in 1972. The statue is an exact replica of the famous 1880 Emmanuel Fremiet equestrian statue of Joan located at Place des Pyramides, Paris. For nine years, the Krewe of Jeanne d’Arc honors and celebrates the story of the “Maid of Orleans” and our French heritage with a whimsical and artistic walking parade throughout the French Quarter. This medieval-styled parade is set in the 1400s and features elaborate costumes, traditional music, horses, jugglers, knights, stilt walkers, giant puppets, king cake, and unique handmade throws. Our favorite location to view the parade is in front of St. Louis Cathedral. The parade is concluded with a King Cake Party at the Statue! Click here to learn more about the parade or see the parade route. 

King Cake

 

One of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious, is the King Cake.  King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season in offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city. Like the Biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement to the tradition, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who "finds" the baby will be rewarded with "good luck" and crowned King of the party, that person is also responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering. The cake itself is made from twisted strands of cinnamon dough, frosted and sprinkled with purple, green and gold colored sugar. Most people throughout Louisiana like King Cakes that have the added fillings in various flavors such as cream cheese, strawberry, bavarian cream, raspberry, cherry, or praline. One of the unique flavor combinations is that of the Zulu King Cake, which has chocolate frosting and coconut filling and honors the legendary Zulu parade on Mardi Gras day.

A Message from Royal Carriages

We look forward to celebrating Mardi Gras with you in addition to providing you with the most authentic New Orleans experience. Throughout the Carnival Season in New Orleans, expect to learn added history of our Mardi Gras parades, costumes, traditions, and more on your mule-drawn carriage tour.  

Throughout the carnival season, our mule-drawn carriages will continue to provide visitors the most authentic way to tour the city, but we will be closed for business beginning February 23, 2017 and won't reopen for business on March 1, 2017. Furthermore, mule-drawn carriage tours of the Garden District will be suspended from February 12, 2017 until March 2, 2017. 

Happy New Year and Happy King's Day from everyone at Royal Carriages!

 

Daddy's Place PC : Mumma 💋 Epic Strt of 2k17 🎀

A photo posted by 💖Harshita Panchbhai ..! 🎀 (@______harshi_____) on

My partner and I enjoyed a wonderful Royal Carriage hour-long tour of French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery with Mark and Cayenne. As a historian myself, I was happy to see Mark reaching out to the tourists with subjects like real estate and housing and teaching a lot of New Orleans history, including of its many ethnic communities and its slave history, full of enthusiasm and obvious love for his native city. He's what most of my historian colleagues wish to be, someone who can reach audiences and share his knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject. Bravo, Mark and Cayenne! Perfect birthday treat for my other half.

TripAdvisor Member: Mark, Arizona, USA

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