“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here.” - Bob Dylan
What makes a graveyard attract more than a hundred thousand visitors each year? In New Orleans, most will say “The Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau”. It’s true that the legend of a powerful and influential voodoo priestess has enchanted spectators since her death in 1881.
Tall tails were weaved by locals and visitors resulting in a tradition that encouraged visitors to leave their mark behind in the form of XXX on the tomb in exchange for a wish granted. With more than thirty years of graffiti, the tomb of Marie Laveau finally received a much-deserved restoration in 2014.
St. Louis Cemetery #1 isn’t the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. The original graveyard was located two blocks away in the French Quarter and is now home to condos and a swimming pool. Unlike the original St. Peter's Cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery #1 was established in Spanish Colonial Rule and built in a swamp, resulting in strange above-ground tombs that resemble “Cities of the Dead”. Above-ground burials are efficient since each tomb can be used countless times.
Beside a renowned voodoo priestess, who else is buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1?
In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased a lot of land in the cemetery and commissioned a pyramid-shaped tomb to be built as his future final resting place
The plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights
A womanizing gambling political millionaire who’d challenge anyone to a duel
An architect who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte's pirates
Earliest World Champion of Chess
Chief of the Golden Star Hunters and President of the Mardi Gras Indian Council
The Governors Wives who both died of Yellow Fever
The first mayor of New Orleans also doubled as a wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry
New Orleans first African-American mayor
Recent changes to St. Louis Cemetery #1 require that all guest must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide working for a tour company registered and approved through the Archdiocese of New Orleans. While this may seem strange, supervision and education by a licensed guide have reduced the amount of desecration by tourists and vandals to the sacred burial ground over the past few years. The money paid to the Archdiocese by each tour company also pays for full-time security at St. Louis Cemetery #1.
Join us as we walk amongst the orphaned and abandoned tombs, the disrepair, and decay. The architecture and symbolism found throughout the cemetery are utterly fascinating. Did you know that a flame or candle can represent the spirit?
Royal Carriages provides the most affordable tour of St. Louis #1. Our 1-hour Bare Bones Walking Tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 is only priced at $15 per person. While other tour companies have tour groups of up to 25 participants, we believe in providing smaller group experience. Often times our groups are no larger than 10 participants total.
Carriage Driver, Mark Orfila, has worked in the French Quarter with carriage mules for about 5 years now. As a father who's raised two lovely kids, his experience working with our mules seems oddly family to the early days of parenthood.
10 Reasons Why Mules Are Like 1500 lb Toddlers
Oversize fears of everyday objects. A plastic bag blowing down the street or a discarded couch on the sidewalk can send a mule into a full-on tantrum. A few words of encouragement usual helps us get past the scary plastic bag.
Speaking of tantrums, if you think that a spoiled toddler in the checkout line can create a lot of drama, just wait till you see a mule demanding a treat with every trick at his disposal.
Dirty diapers. We're talking ten pounds of wet stinking mule poo in a single dump sometimes! It's our job as carriage drivers to keep the diapers empty.
Hating baths. (To be fair some mules -- like some toddlers -- love baths.)
Needing routine. Even minor changes to a route can sometimes be stressful. We try to do our best to keep them on new routes so that they don't develop bad habits!
All-around stubbornness (as stubborn as a mule), which truly is also a sign of their intelligence. They know they can win.
Putting every disgusting thing they can find in their mouths.
Rough/mean play. Ever wonder where the expression "horseplay" comes from?
BUT... at their best, they can be incredibly sweet and affectionate.
When I started driving the carriage five years ago, a colleague said to me, "Working with a mule is like working with a 1,500 pound 3-year-old." Four and a half years later I'm still discovering how true it is.
Written by Mark Orfila
Veteran Carriage Driver & Tour Guide at Royal Carriages.
Being a Veteran owned company, Royal Carriages holds a unique respect and appreciation for those who serve in our Armed Forces. We'd like to take this moment to recognize two incredible Veterans.
Bob French Jr., a Supervisor at Royal Carriages, served in the United States Army working as a Secure Communications Repair Technician, serving two tours of Germany 1985-1986 and 1988-1991 in addition to a tour of Korea in 1994. Bob has a great sense of humor and knows exactly what to say to make our customers smile. At Royal Carriages, Bob is responsible for managing 13 carriages, drivers, and mules each day.
Former Carriage Driver, Kevin “KJ” Joseph, was recently promoted to Supervisor at Royal Carriages due to his natural leadership abilities thanks to his service in the Air Force. As a carriage driver, KJ entertained everyone who rode his carriage. KJ worked as a Military Intelligence Office for the Air Force and through his years of service, KJ traveled to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Liberia.
“The Air Force was the most attractive branch that I saw at Grambling State University. I joined to have a way to pay for college initially; then decided to have a career to take care of family.” said KJ.
Together, these outstanding men supervise and manage the day to day street operations of our family-owned carriage tour company. They are both recent graduates of the 2016 Royal Carriages Mule School, which takes place annually in Poplarville, Mississippi. Mule School focuses on improving our education, handling, and relationships with our carriage mules.
To honor and show our appreciation to both Bob French Jr. and Kevin Joseph for their service, Royal Carriages has provided each Veteran with complimentary tickets to the WWII Museum, which attracts more visitors to New Orleans each year than Mardi Gras itself.
Royal Carriages would like to remind everyone about our Veterans Ride Free Program. All US Veterans receive complimentary 30-minute carriage tours of the French Quarter, and $20 OFF all other carriage tours, with Military ID.
On this day, and every day, we salute you.
"If a fact-filled wander about town sounds like pure punishment, think again. For children, learning about the past can be fascinating, if the setting is right. Taking in the sights from a carriage is decidedly cool. So is picking out the mule leading your expedition."
It's true! A fantastic article written by Amy Tara Koch for The New York Times features a whole slew of must-dos for families planning to visit New Orleans.
The article, published in The New York Times on June 1, 2016, gave an honorable mention to our hard-working mules and the carriage drivers that love them.
What a great description of our carriage tours!
In just 30-minutes, our carriage tour covers more ground and history than a 2-hour walking tour! Each tour discusses history, culture, architecture, and dabbles into the subjects of voodoo, food, music, and more! These mule-drawn excursions are perfect for kids of all ages!
In addition to recommending a mule-drawn carriage tour of the French Quarter with Royal Carriages, the article also suggests phenomenal New Orleans traditions such as beignets at Cafe DuMonde, an overstuffed po'boy at Johnny's, dancing and dining at Three Muses on Frenchmen, and more.
For fun culinary experience the whole family can enjoy, we agree with the selections of Dat Dog, Sucre`, and Jacque-Imo's Cafe for fun atmosphere and flavorful dishes that even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy!
The New York Times also suggested that New Orleans is considered one of the Top 5 Family Vacation Alternatives to Disney World!
Did you know that the diaper bags that the mules wear today were originally designed by a lovely lady by the name of Miss Violet Lauga in the 1960s? Violet was happily married to the founder of Royal Carriages, Clem Laura. She and her husband traced out the pattern on her kitchen table. This same pattern is still hand-sewn and worn by all Royal Carriage mules.
When worn properly, equine diaper bags catch more than 90% of all waste...manure...poop...whatever you want to call it! Occasionally accidental "road apples" hit the ground. Royal Carriages averages 20-26 working mules each day, in addition to working mules from the other companies and New Orleans Police Department Mounted Patrol....that can be a lot of accidental manure! City law requires each carriage mule to wear a diaper bag, and City Officials regularly perform surprise inspections to make sure the diaper bags are in proper working order.
Did you know The City of New Orleans requires each carriage company to remove the manure from the French Quarter on scheduled days? Since Royal Carriages is the largest carriage company, we are responsible for cleaning more days out of any other company.
At Royal Carriages, we believe in being good neighbors and we love seeing (and smelling) a clean French Quarter. Which is why the Royal Carriage Street Sweep is actively on the hunt, searching for manure to sweep up. The Royal Carriages Street Sweep consists of a battery operated golf cart, equipped with a shovel, broom, and assortment of cleaning products to help neutralize and mask the odors.
Did you know Royal Carriages also provides complimentary odor neutralizers to help freshen the air in front of any French Quarter business or residence? If you would like to receive a package, contact our business office at (504) 943-8820 and we will deliver it to your door.
If you are a French Quarter business owner or resident that needs EMERGENCY POOP REMOVAL, we've got you covered! Follow the chart below, and call in your request to the company scheduled. If the waste isn't removed in a timely manner, comments can be made during regular business hours to The City of New Orleans at (504) 658-7176.
Royal Carriages will make the extra effort to clean up even if it isn't our scheduled day.
If you are a resident or a business owner in the French Quarter or Marigny and have found this information to be helpful, please forward this on to your neighbors!
Jonathan, with his mule Elizabeth, provided the six of us with a really fun experience. He has a really jovial but laid-back personality and great sense of humor - had us all laughing. We all talked about it with our friends who weren't with us how much fun he was. The next day he was doing a cemetery tour when he saw and acknowledge us with enthusiasm and we overheard him tell his tour group that he had fun with us the previous day. New Orleans and Royal Carriages are fortunate to have him.