Among Saints & Sinners
A French Quarter Phantoms tour
CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH
In a city whose history is clothed in virtue and vice, one can imagine the endless stories, legends and tales of the city of New Orleans. Historians and master storytellers from the Big Easy and beyond have made it their mission to entertain tourists and local alike, while giving them a piece of our history – the good and the bad.
With a number of companies and tours to pick from, the goal was to find a tour with an interesting twist on New Orleans history. This brought me to French Quarter Phantoms Tour Company and Saints and Sinners with guide and tour manager Luke Siddall. “One of the most fascinating things about our city,” Siddall says about the Saints and Sinners tour, “is the dichotomy between its very religious and Catholic history, and the fact that we’re renowned throughout the world as a city of vice and decadence. We thought it would be very interesting to do a tour that directly speaks to that wonderful strangeness and unique cultural history in the United States.”
Like most things you do in New Orleans, the tour began outside of a bar where “2-for-1 Hurricanes” were offered to tour participants. As we began walking, Siddall filled the air with stories of Bienville and Iberville and the early swamp days of New Orleans. Throughout the hour and a half excursion, we wandered up and down the French Quarter streets, stopping in front of Preservation Hall, Lafitte’s on Bourbon, Hotel Villa Convento – which claims to be the “House of the Rising Sun” – ending near Jackson Square. Siddall mentioned that his favorite stories to tell are about Marie Laveau and Voodoo. He says, “There are so many misconceptions about slavery, Voodoo and her life in general that I enjoy giving out the real history and seeing people come to a greater understanding about the lives of those around them.”
These walking tours are better than any history class you could sit through. The dedicated historians and the animated narration of a city full of saints and sinners bring it to life in front of your eyes.
French Quarter Phantoms offers multiple tours throughout each day. Varying tour themes include: Ghost and Vampire, Cemetery, Tremé, True Crime, Saints and Sinners, as well as custom and private tours. Visit FrenchQuarterPhantoms.com to book yours.