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Cemetery Tour with Two Chicks Walking Tours
When I am not traveling, one of my favorite things to do is to tour my hometown of New Orleans as if I were on vacation. This past month I took my first ever Cemetery Tour of St Louis #1 withTwo Chicks Walking Tours.
Two Chicks Walking Tours is a local, New Orleans company that prides itself on unique storytelling and small, intimate tours. Their philosophy is that people work hard for their vacation time and going on a walking tour is a well-deserved treat.
St Louis No One
To visit the cemetery, I met Christine Miller, the head chick in charge, right outside of Arrow Café. Being a few minutes early, I walked into Arrow Café to get a delicious cold brew to get me in the local New Orleans Spirit.
After meeting Christine, we took the short stroll to the St Louis Cemetery #1. On the walk over, Christine and I chatted about this history of New Orleans and why our cemeteries are mostly above ground instead of in the ground. Many locals and tourists believe that our cemeteries are above ground because we are five feet below sea level. The truth is that New Orleans is profoundly influenced by the Spanish culture and we mimicked their tradition of having above ground tombs.
In 2013, a vandal crept into St Louis #1 and painted the famed voodoo priestess Marie Laveau’s tomb pink. Since then, the only way to visit the cemetery is by touring with an authorized tour guide. Lucky for you –Two Chicks Walking Tours is one of those tour guides!
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Notable Grave Sites
There are many notable graves you will see on tour, and no two tours are exactly alike. Two Chicks will evaluate the vibe and determine which stories the walking tour may be interested in. The tour I went on had a lot of focus on Marie Laveau, perpetual care, and historical locals buried in the cemetery.
Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau is the most visited tomb in St Louis #1. Visitors from all over come here to give praise to the voodoo queen. Rumor has it if you scribble an X on the tomb and make a wish, Laveau will grant your wish. If your desire comes true, then you should return and circle your Xs. Some have taken the tradition even farther by writing three Xs for one wish. Because of course – three Xs would make the wish become true faster. Right?
This practice is discouraged by preservationists. In 2014, there was a significant effort to restore her tomb to its whitewashed exterior. If a visitor is caught marking any grave in St Louis #1 a hefty fine is associated with the crime.
Some visitors leave Laveau bobby pins, hair ties, and other hair accessories. It is known that Laveau studied to be a hairdresser and it is believed that leaving her trinkets will also bring luck to the well-wisher.
On the tour, I saw at least three tombs that are associated with Marie Laveau. Christine pointed out the real grave and two other tombs that some claim at Marie Laveau’s final resting place is within. Each tomb has Xs marked on the outside and hair trinkets offered up to the voodoo queen.
Within St Louis #1 you will find a sizeable unmarked pyramid. Nicolas Cage plans to be buried in this tomb. In 2010, Cage decided to build the tomb for his final resting place – one of the most famous cemeteries in the United States. Lucky for Cage, when he fell on hard times and suffered on some foreclosures his final resting place was not taken away from him.
The pyramid has a Latin motto inscribed on the tomb – Omnia Ab Uno which means Everything From One from the film National Treasure.
When visiting the grave, you will see many red-lipstick kisses all over the tomb. Since Cage paid for Perpetual Care, the caretakers cleaned off all of the red lipstick. When Cage found out that his fans were coming to kiss his tomb, he instructed that everything except for the kisses cleaned off of the tomb.
These are just two of the graves you will see in St Louis #1. You will also discover that Cincinnati Kid (1965) and Easy Rider (1969) were filmed I the St Louis Cemeteries. After Easy Rider was released, the Archdiocese formed a policy to disallow filming in its cemeteries, except for preapproved documentaries and educational films.
What to Bring on the Tour
- An umbrella – there is not much shade in the cemetery so if you tend to be sensitive to the sun bring an umbrella!
- Bottled water – the tour in total will last about an hour to an hour and a half. Once in the cemetery, there is nowhere to purchase water so make sure to bring one with you. There are usually street vendors selling water before and after the tour.
- A good pair of walking shoes – Like most places in New Orleans, the walkway has some uneven paths. Make sure to wear your favorite walking shoe while on this tour.
Two Chicks Walking Tours
I enjoyed spending just little over an hour with Christine learning all about St Louis #1,Two Chicks Walking Tours, and some history of New Orleans I didn’t know before. Next time you are visiting New Orleans make sure you reach out to these Two Chicks and book a tour! Two Chicks offer tours in the French Quarter, Garden District, additional Cemeteries, and customized private tours.
Have you ever visited a cemetery on your travels?
*I received a free tour from Two Chicks Walking Tours in exchange for writing a review on the blog. This walking tour was also featured in Tourist in my Hometown – October. If you would like to be featured on my blog, please check out my Work With Me Page.
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