A Guide to Haunted New Orleans – Discovering the Legends of America’s Most Haunted City

Haunted New Orleans and St. Louis Cathedral

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, walking through haunted New Orleans at night can feel a little spooky. We all know that New Orleans is the home of Mardi Gras, cajun food and jazz. But the Cresent City also has a dark side in its history which has made it notorious for its Legends and Paranormal Activity.

You can certainly explore the most haunted city in the United States on your own.  However, there is no better way to learn the history and dark stories that color the Big Easy than to take one of the famous French Quarter Ghost Tours. Come with me and let’s explore Haunted New Orleans.

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Haunted New Orleans

Haunted New Orleans History Tours

There are many great haunted New Orleans ghost tours to choose from.  Since I have had great experiences with Free Tours by Foot I decided to book my ghost tour through them.

I love them because their tour guides are knowledgeable and the price of the tour is determined by you. This means it should fit your budget.

However, please remember to tip your tour guide well.  They work very hard to provide you with a meaningful experience and this is how they make a living.

A big shout-out to my tour guide Melissa Huguenot who made the ghosts stories of haunted New Orleans come alive. She is passionate about her city and what she does and that passion comes across beautifully in her stories. Furthermore her story telling is enthralling and I promise she will keep you riveted for the entire 2 hours of the tour.

To read reviews of Free Tours by Foot or look at other great companies for the best New Orleans Ghost tours you can refer to  Trip advisors list.

My Favorite Haunted New Orleans Stories

There is a reason why New Orleans is considered America’s most haunted city. The city has dozens of history based tales of tragedy, murders, saints, witches, vampires, pirates and voodoo.

Here are 5 of my favorite haunted New Orleans stories. All of which I learned about from the walking tour with Melissa Huguenot from Free Tours by Foot.

Please note that legends and stories vary wildly. And therefore the versions below may vary from what you learn on your haunted New Orleans ghost tour.

St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo

1.The Ghost of Pere Dagobert 

When you hear about haunted New Orleans, you will undoubtedly hear at least one story about the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral has a long storied history in New Orleans but one of its most famous ghost is that of Pere Dagobert.

The History

In the mid 1760’s Louisiana changed hands from French to Spanish rule when the French King Louis XV gave Louisiana to his Spanish cousin King Charles III. This change was not popular. So when the Spanish arrived, five leading members of the community enlisted soldiers and attacked. It was a successful rebellion and the Spaniards returned to Spain.

This attack was considered treason and Spain could not tolerate this behavior. Therefore, Spain built up its forces and retaliated by sending 42 ships with a new Governor to instill its rule. This new governor was Don Alejandro O’Reilly, who upon arrival marched into Jackson Square and killed the five men who had started the revolution. Since the men were convicted of treason they were not allowed proper burial. They were displayed instead in front of the church as an example of what happens to traitors.

The Legend

French priest Pere Dagobert begged for the men to be buried and was denied. Despite the denial he did not give up hope. In fact, the congregation prayed for a miracle and the priest sang the “Kyrie”.  Finally, the prayers were heard and answered. And one night a thick fog rolled in allowing the congregation to move and burry the bodies.

The legend says that the ghost of Pere Dagobert haunts this church today. And that when the fog rolls in and the square is quiet you can hear his voice signing the Kyrie.

Muriels in Haunted New Orleans

2.The Ghost of Pierre Antoine in Muriels

The story goes that Pierre Antoine inherited the building from his father. But Pierre was a man who liked the thrill and excitement of gambling.  In the early 1800’s, this weakness led him to wager his home in a poker game and he lost what he loved most in his life.

The shock and pain of this loss was so intense that he hung himself on the second floor of his home so that he would never leave.

The legend says that Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan is still with us today in spiritual form.  His ghost appears not as a human but as a white glimmer that sparkles. Furthermore, he wanders around what is now the Séance Lounge of Muriel. The restaurant even has a “Ghost Table” at the end of their carriageway. The table is set daily and reserved for Pierre Antoine.

Hotel Provincial in Haunted New Orleans

3.The Provincial Hotel

The hotel has five buildings but according to my guide it is building 5 which shows the most amount of paranormal experience.

This property was many different things one of which was a military hospital owned by the Ursuline Nuns. The hospital was used during the civil war as a Confederate hospital where many of the soldiers died of their wounds.

Because it was a hospital, many of the sightings and residual energy found in the hotel have blood. As a result some have seen stained walls, or blood pooled on the floors.  But these are all like mirages that disappear.  Some guests also claim they are awoken at night by their beds shaking.

Haunted New Orleans and Madame Delphine LaLaurie

4.Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s  Mansion

One of the most famous stories of haunted New Orleans is that of Madame Delphine LaLaurie.  Madame Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite that threw lavish parties for her neighbors in her mansion on 1140 Royal Street. She acquired most of her wealth from the death of her first two husbands – lucky for her.

However, it is her 3rd marriage in 1825 which caused the most controversy. She married a doctor nearly twenty years her junior – way to go Madame!!

Despite the appearance of a charming life, whispers of sinister things where being spread. It seems she had a high turnover of slaves. Frequently purchasing new ones, but no one ever knew what happened to the old ones.

The incident that changed it all

There was an incident where a young slave fell to her death in the courtyard. As a result an investigation was opened. And subsequently the slaves were confiscated from her.

But since Madame Delphine LaLaurie was so wealthy, she secretly buys them back and hides them in her attic.

Tales of mistreatment and experimentation

The slaves are not fed well and they are punished for minor mistakes. But the worst part is what her husband the doctor does to them.  It is said the doctor conducted all types of experiments on the slaves. For instance, legend says that:

  • A girl was found with her limbs crooked and bent from being broken and reset wrong. The limbs remained this way making her walk in a crab like form.
  • A slave was found with a whole drilled into his head with a spoon sticking out of it. An attempt to stir the brains and let out pressure.
  • Another slave was found with an exposed back. All skin pulled off leaving tissue and muscle exposed to the open air.

The discovery

One morning in 1834 a fire was started in the mansion by one of the slaves. The slave who was chained to the kitchen stove risked losing her life. But the fire that destroyed part of the mansion also brought the authorities. As a result they discovered the hidden slaves she had kept starved, tortured and chained. Many had also died of starvation, disease or from the torture. However, Madame Delphine and her husband both escaped. It is said she went to France and he went to Cuba.

As a result of all this suffering, not only is the house haunted, but it is said to be cursed. Until now, no owner has been able to keep it for more than 7 years. Including actor Nicolas Cage who lost the house due to bankruptcy.

 

5.The Octoroon Mistress or Julie’s House

Julie is one of the most romantic but tragic ghosts stories in haunted New Orleans. Julie was an “Octoroon” which means she was 1/8 black. And although she could easily pass as white her heritage was not. Therefore, she was not allowed by law to marry.

Julie was considered by society as a Plaçage. This was an extralegal system in the colonies by which the women of African, Native American, or mixed-race descent would enter into an equivalent of a common-law marriage.

Julie fell in love with a high class Frenchman, but because she was an Octoroon is not able to marry. Despite her status the Wealthy Frenchman loves her and only her. Therefore, he gifts her with her own house on 734 Royal Street. But what Julie wants is to marry.

Not all is well in paradise

The subject of marriage caused many fights between the couple. And one night when she would not drop the subject of marriage the Frenchman gave her a test. He told her that if she really loved him, she would go to the rooftop naked and wait there all night.  The Frenchman picked a night that was very cold convinced that Julie would refuse the test and go to bed. He then leaves her to entertain his friends.

When the Frenchman returns he finds that Julie is nowhere in the townhouse. Out of options he climbs to the rooftop to search for her there. And that is where he finds her dead, naked and huddled in a corner.

The legend

Since then, on very cold days, Julie’s ghost can be seen on the rooftop wearing nothing but her birthday suit. She is also seen throughout the house wearing a yellow dress that she favored. Additionally it is said that when she is seen you can smell gardenias.  So if you ever smell Gardenias while walking by her house keep your eyes open as Julie is nearby.

Haunted New Orleans Cemeteries

More Haunted New Orleans 

The ghost tour recounts many more stories and details. However I won’t tell you any more so I don’t ruin all the fun.

I highly recommend you go on your own Haunted New Orleans tour and discover all the legends and gory details on your own.

Below are some more stories that you may hear on your tour. Each one of these and many more are a part of haunted New Orleans.

  • The Sultans Palace
  • The Cabildo
  • Pirates Alley
  • Arnauds Restaurant
  • Café Lafitte
  • The Hotel Monteleone
  • Brennans
  • Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre
  • St Louis Cemetary No 1
  • The axeman of New Orleans

In the end, I do not think it matters if you believe in ghosts or not. By walking in the shadowy past of haunted New Orleans, you will see a different side of the city. A dark, history filled city that is most certainly unique. All it takes is for you to step away from the party scene that surrounds Bourbon Street and open your mind to the possibilities.

5 Famous New Orleans Ghosts

So do you believe in ghosts? Have you personally experienced a paranormal encounter? Or do you have a favorite ghost story? I would love to hear from you so please share with me below or get social with me on Instagram or Facebook.

 

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45 Comments

  1. I love this post!! I’ve never been to New Orleans but this makes me want to go even more. I love taking ghost tours and learning stories, even though it freaks me out haha. I agree that ghost tours are a great way to see another side of a city.

    1. This was my first ever ghost tour and honestly I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and I can sincerely recommend it. Hope you get to visit New Orleans it is a great city

  2. Wow all of these haunted stories are so interesting! I honestly had no idea that New Orleans had a reputation as being a haunted city. I’m planning to visit next year, so I’ll make sure to do this unique tour. So interesting (and creepy!!)

    1. I was surprised to learn it is considered one of the most haunted cities in the USA. It was definitely a fun tour and I bet the voodoo tour is also great. I don’t think you can go wrong with either and I highly recommend the company I used because you pay what you feel it was worth.

  3. We did the ghost tour in New Orleans and I will say this post was better than the actual tour! They overcrowded our tour and we could barely hear our guide and since there were so many tours going on at the same time the sound kept getting muffled with other tours. Anyways it was really fascinating to read more about the stories since we missed out on a lot of the info on our tour. The mansion that Nick Cage bought was one of my favorite stops, our guide did mention some of the ghost stories Nicolas Cage experienced (I think it was from an interview with Oprah or something). We also learned that our hotel was haunted too! This kind of stuff really fascinates me!

    1. Oh no your hotel was haunted? I think I would have checked out right away. So glad you enjoyed the stories. I think I lucked out because my tour was on a Wednesday in the middle of the hot hot summer so not to many people were on it. So I managed to take real good notes plus my guide was awesome and she stayed extra to answer all my questions.

  4. I have been to New Orleans numerous times and never knew of the ghost tours. I am easily scared, but I feel like I need to do this the next time I go. The Provincial Hotel and the shaking beds sounds crazy scary! Pinning this 🙂

    1. This was my first ghost tour ever as I am normally scared of this stuff as well. But I must admit the guide was excellent and it was some great storytelling and not as creepy as I thought it would be. The price is definitely right as you can decide what the right amount is. I thought it was totally worth it and hope you get to experience one next time you are in town.

  5. New Orleans is such a beautiful city. I am most curious about the beautiful architecture, and of course the great food! But the Ghost Tour is also something that I am interested in. These roundup of ghost stories are spooky but they also pique my interest some more!

    1. The city is amazing as well as the food. I do not think I ate anything that I did not like. I met some wonderful people as well. This was the first time for me on a ghost tour and I honestly did not know what to expect. But it was fun and entertaining and I learned quite a bit of history as well. I do recommend it.

  6. I so want to take one of these ghost tours!! I love the stories and the history. We’ve done some of the haunted hotels in this area, and the stays have been fun — and entirely ghost free. Out of curiosity, how much should you tip one of the tour guides? Should we tip as a couple, individually? I think I feel a plan in the works! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You tip what you believe the tour was worth. I feel the guides work extra hard because they know they will only get paid well if they perform well. On regular tours you are charged a flat rate per person and prices vary between $15 – $50 or more. I tip per person because that is what you would pay if you were on a regular tour. I tipped $20 for this one and I believe it was worth it.

  7. Ooh, I don’t do ghost stories very well, or any kind of suspense for that matter. I think the history is fascinating and the story of Julie is so sad! When I visited NOLA, we walked by Pirate’s Alley, but didn’t go in. I think I’ll stick to the voodoo in “The Princess and the Frog.”

    1. They do have voodoo tours as well. If that is more your speed. I actually thing I will do one of those next time I am in town.

  8. Who knew New Orleans had so much historical references! Not me that’s for sure. I love all the stories about this, especially about the legend of Pere Dagobert in the church. So sad about Julie and her French lover; I do like these haunted stories though!

    1. Julies story was the saddest one for me so tragic. Hope you get to go on your own haunted New Orleans tour one day.

  9. I have been wanting to go back to New Orleans and so some of these tours. The graveyards are haunting beautiful. I love that the tombstones are large and tall versus a lot of ones I have seen that are small and lay flat. Give3s it that extra spooky factor

    1. I still have quite a bit I want to see there. The history is quite fascinating I think you would love it. Good drinks and food as well.

  10. Ooh! First of all, I love the way you set up this post! Second of all, I LOVE all the different stories! When I was in New Orleans, I did a cemetery tour (of St. Louis #1) but they stopped at places along the way (it started at their office) and LaLaurie’s was on the tour. I was appalled! Then I watched American Horror Story and it was insane to see it was all there! Crazy!

    1. I do not think I could watch American Horror Story. I did ok on the tour but scary stuff is not for me. This tour however was more informative and actually lots of fun. Much less creepy than I thought. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  11. I had no idea that New Orleans was the most haunted city in the US! We’ve been, though it was summer, so stayed light quite late, and we didn’t really venture out after dark. I can see it though, because historic cities always have crazy fascinating legends (and ghosts!) Thanks for sharing these stories!

    1. I had no idea about how haunted it was until I did this tour. I am usually someone who gets scared and was hesitant to book the tour to begin with. But glad I did. It was fun. And you cant beat the price.

  12. I love taking ghost tours. I’m more into it for the history than anything else, but it’s interesting to hear how legends started and perpetuated for generations. I took a couple ghost tours when I was living in Texas, but it looks like New Orleans has Texas beat.

    1. I am heading to Texas this time next year and I had no idea they had ghost stories there as well. May need to look them up. And I agree with you the historical aspect is what kept me interested and learning how all the legends started.

  13. Wow! I did a haunted ghost tour in N.O. The last time I was there but I can’t remember the name of it. However, the Madame Delphine LaLaurie did pique my interest

    1. I had no idea about they haunted status until I took the tour. It does make sense with all the history there. Glad you enjoyed the stories.

  14. I feel quite scared after reading this. It’s surprising that there are many haunted places in this city. Pinned and shared it with my friends.

  15. You must have had a ghostly experience. I liked the 2nd and 5th story. Would live to sit at the table reserved for the ghost at the restaurant and see what happens. Haha.. 😃

    1. I actually considered eating at the restaurant it is supposed to be very good but honestly not sure I would spend extra money to sit at that particular table. It was fun tour though and I totally recommend it.

  16. I learned so much information from your post. I feel like I don’t even need to book the tour anymore! Hahah 😉 I’ve only been to New Orleans once as a kid, so I need to go back again to really experience it!

    1. haha I left out quite a few of the stories plus the guide is so much more animated. I think each tour is a bit different as each guide puts their own spin on things and has different stories to tell. I really enjoyed it.

  17. These haunted stories are so cool! Had no idea about New Orleans Ghost stories. we intend to visit this city soon. Will keep this in mind. Thanks. for sharing. 🙂

    1. Hope you have a great time exploring New Orleans. Whether you book this one or a different ghost story tour I am sure you will have fun on it.

    1. New Orleans is a fantastic city filled with history and amazing food and warm people. Glad you will want to go visit I am sure you will love it.

  18. Now this scared me, am sorry but am really scared of such places . I have been to such place in San Francisco and trust me I couldn’t sleep properly for atleast a week. Thanks for sharing this, now I know I should be careful while planning a trip

    1. Sorry I scared you but at least you are now informed. Hope it does not discourage from visiting New Orleans it is a great city

  19. I love Ghost Tours! The only two I ever did were in New Orleans, it’s so exotic seeing these places and hearing these tales, tall or not they are a fascinating part of New Orleans mysticism and magic! Great photos to tell the tale Joella!

    1. Thank you Rebecca. Happy you also got to experience these tours for yourself. This was my first time and I am a new fan.

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