When I first visited New Orleans over Christmas of 2008, I fell in love with the city. Be prepared for some culture shock, though. I’ve visited 27 countries and I don’t normally experience culture shock, but I did in NOLA. Yes, you’re visiting an American city, but its architecture looks European, some of its partygoers look like they’re from another planet (especially on Bourbon Street), and everyone’s walking around with an alcoholic beverage in their hand. Even during the day. If you feel so compelled, grab a drink and let me show you the fun, paranormal side of the city.
Haunted History Tours
Haunted History Tours in New Orleans are a fun way to learn some history and get your bearings in the French Quarter. These walking tours are twenty-five bucks per person. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s twenty-five dollars I could spend on Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s.” True. But for that price, you get two hours of amazing storytelling about famous buildings in the French Quarter. The guides love to share personal haunted experiences that they have had themselves in this city of other-worldly activity. If you like scary stories, you will not be disappointed. Plus, if you’re a ghost hunter, the tour guides point out hot spots of orbs, ectoplasms, and apparitions.
Muriel’s on Jackson Square
We ate at Muriel’s, one such paranormal hot spot, which sits right off Jackson Square.
This picture shows a hallway in the restaurant that used to be the corridor where slaves walked on their way to being sold on the square. That sad part of history undoubtedly left a mark on the place. Some people report hearing the clinks of chains or the moans of the slaves who passed through the hallway. Another kind of entity you may encounter throughout the restaurant is a ghost nun. At one point, the building was inhabited by Catholic nuns, so now the spectral sisters hang around the place to bless everything from your food to your napkin to your bracelet until you say “Thank you, sister.” Then the nun will disappear.
The LaLaurie Mansion
The LaLaurie Mansion, known to locals as “The Haunted House,” plays a pivotal role in my novel, Voodoo Butterfly. Here’s a quote from Voodoo Butterfly which highlights the horrific history surrounding Madame and Doctor LaLaurie, during the time that they owned the mansion.
Over the years, all the servants who had gone missing in the LaLaurie household, had been enslaved on the third floor. Madame LaLaurie had performed terrible experiments on them there…[The authorities] found a female servant carved into the shape of a human caterpillar, her arms and legs amputated and her skin peeled off in strips to give her a segmented body. One man had undergone a crude sex change operation. Another woman had been locked in a tiny cage, and when then opened it, they realized that her arms and legs had been broken and reset at strange angles so she resembled a crab.
This description was based on real events. Madame and Doctor LaLaurie were in the upper echelons of NOLA society and would throw lavish parties at their beautiful mansion. How chilling to know, after the fact, that as you were wining and dining, there was a secret torture room upstairs. My research of the place relied on lore told to me by locals when I’ve visited New Orleans as well as my online research, which included original newspaper articles.
Here is a photo of orbs surrounding the LaLaurie Mansion. I didn’t really want to stick around the place because it is said that screams can still be heard coming out of the building and anyone who has tried to own it, either abandons or sells the home because there’s so much negative paranormal activity. Actor Nicolas Cage bought it in 2006 and put it up for sale in 2008. I’m sure he had some unexpected visitors.
If you decide to visit New Orleans (and I hope you can sometime), immerse yourself in its culture. That’s why we travel, isn’t it? To get out of our daily routine. The food, the culture, and the spirits (I’m talking booze and paranormal entities) will show you some magic.