I hadn’t intended to spend my morning in the cemetery but here I was in Lafayette #1 learning about burial processes, payment upkeep and the politics involved in New Orleans. Signing up for the New Orleans’ Garden District two hour walking tour, I envisioned the grand, romantic homes of the movies and novels and lots of flowers and gardens.
The hotel had booked me on this walking tour led by educators and historians (cost of $25) and we met at the corner cafe across from Lafayette #1 cemetery. Our group of seven was the perfect size to tour the area with our guide. We started in the cemetery because it is part of the history of New Orleans. I’m not sure about you but I’m not really a fan of cemeteries, if it is part of the tour like it was in Ireland then fine, but when I’ve visited Paris, I’ve not had a yen to visit Jim Morrison or others at the local cemetery.
But as it part of Louisana history, here I was listening to all the nuances of the cemetery (it was surprisingly more interesting than I thought it would be). Lafayette 1 is a small neighborhood with rows (streets) and interesting homes and stories of families – some trying to outdo the others in the size and opulance of theirafter life homes. The stories of the families, class differences, work societies, politics and preservation efforts throughout the cemetery gave a bit of a fresh spin to the sadness that this could be. Had I walked though on my own, I would have only seen the gravesites and appreciated the artistry of the plots. A tour guide really made all the difference. I started the tour not interested in the cemetery but finished with a new appreciation for the history and importance of the cemeteries in Louisiana, and New Orleans specifically. So maybe I will visit Jim in Paris soon.
After close to an hour in the cemetery, we proceeded toward the homes of the Garden District.
The first house looked familiar as it was the setting for Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt filmed there) but sadly it was in disarray (a fixer upper) when it was recently sold. The guide told a story of the open house when the owner was asked why there was no dishwasher in the kitchen, she replied “If you want to talk to the dishwasher, I can call her down”, hawking back to a different era in the history of the city.
We were standing in front of a gorgeous home for sale that had some original details as well as some renovations. It can be yours for a cool $2.5 million (prices vary in the area as many do need to be gutted and upgraded). We walked past a home recently purchased and in the midst of a full renovation and another home being rebuilt ground up. While the homes are pretty outside and may be large and gorgeous inside, they don’t have much of a yard/land to them that I saw. For that kind of money, I’d want a bit of land to enjoy.
As the tour started late, I had to leave early after only a few homes so I could find lunch before heading to the conference. A few other homes in the Garden District
Do you need a walking tour of the garden district and cemetery? Up to you, as you can easily walk the streets of the garden district, take photos and enjoy the leafy streets with pretty homes for free. The cemetery is a different story – I’d suggest a guide to provide the history of the cemeteries as it is interesting and you otherwise can’t get the info on-site as there are no information markers.