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Anne Rice’s Unauthorized French Quarter Tour is a historical fiction tour which blends old New Orleans with present-day New Orleans. This tour only covers the Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches novels.
Anne Rice’s notoriety as a writer began when Interview with the Vampire, the first book in the Vampire Chronicles, made its debut in 1976. Anne published several books prior to Interview with the Vampire, but none grabbed the imagination of the reader in the same way. The book went on to become a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise. Anne also wrote three books about another supernatural family, the Mayfair Witches.
The French Quarter (Vieux Carré), New Orleans’ (La Nouvelle-Orléans) first city, was established in 1718 by French Canadian naval officer Jean Baptiste Bienville. The French Quarter plays a significant role in Anne Rice’s novels. It’s the place where her characters live, dine, shop, and enjoy the opera and other entertainment.
Interestingly enough, the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches had many parallels until they crossed paths in Blackwood Farm. For example, Lestat and Marie Claudette Mayfair arrived in La Nouvelle-Orléans in the same year, 1789. Their lives began in New Orleans after family members were killed during the French Revolution. Both spoke French before speaking English. Lestat settled in the savage garden known as the Vieux Carré, a place we now know as the French Quarter. Marie Claudette built her primary home, La Victoire plantation, at the Riverbend, but also had a home in the French Quarter, not too far from Lestat, Louis, and Claudia. The area Marie Claudette fled parallels the history of Haiti in 1789, and La Victoire is a real place in Haiti.
Characters in both books attended the same Quadroon Balls, enjoyed the same theatres, frequented the same riverfront bars on Gallatin Street, lived in the same hotels, and owned homes in the same area in the French Quarter and Garden District. Anne not only chronicled the lives of the central characters, but also the actual names of the streets, shops, neighborhoods, and types of transportation in favor at that period in time.
The Vieux Carré is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart and Canal Streets, and Esplanade Avenue. The tour will start in Jackson Square. If you don’t know how to find Jackson Square, ask any doorman or shop clerk. The tour will also cover a small portion of “The Ramparts,” which is now known as Tréme.
Jackson Square is a historic park, originally known as the Place d’Armes. The centerpiece of Jackson Square is a statue of its namesake, General Andrew Jackson, sitting in noble grandeur upon his horse. In January 1851, the city council changed the name from Place d’Armes to Jackson Square in honor of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Modeled after the picturesque Place des Vosges in Paris, the square is a tribute to the city’s rich historical heritage. If you look at the buildings that surround Jackson Square, you will see many of New Orleans’ architectural gems. Not only are the buildings beautiful, but many, like the lovely Cabildo (old city hall) served as a backdrop for significant events in the history of the city, state, and country.
The focal point of Jackson Square is the stunning St. Louis Cathedral. The triple steeples that rise above the park have become the hallmark of the oldest Catholic Cathedral in continuous use in the United States. Flanked by its neighbors, the Cabildo on the left and the Presbytere on the right, the cathedral is a popular destination for tourists, particularly the religious, and a well-loved spot for weddings.