Our next adventure was to take a walking tour with ‘Friends of the Cabildo’.
It was another beautiful day in New Orleans when we arrived at the meeting point for our tour. We were assigned to a large group and got mixed up when we couldn’t hear the instructions from our guide. We didn’t know if we were coming or going and hurriedly fell in behind everyone when it looked like we were going to be left behind. Two days had passed since my run-in with gluten and I was feeling rather battered and tired but I was determined to enjoy my day.
As we followed our guide around I soon discovered that I couldn’t hear a word she was saying. I was dismayed that our guide was so soft-spoken and that her voice did not carry any distance at all. No wonder we had almost been left behind – we had never heard her instructions.
The Cabildo is located in Jackson Square and is now a museum. Originally it was the seat of government in New Orleans and it has a rich history associated with it.
The walking tour through the French Quarter took us to three historic houses that were bedecked with Creole Christmas decorations. The tour was to end with refreshments and the telling of the Creole Christmas Story.
The first house we visited was the Beauregard-Keyes House across from the Ursuline Convent. This historic house is famous for many reasons. Built by a wealthy auctioneer, it is named for two of its former occupants – Confederate General Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes.
The tour was taken over by a guide at the Beauregard-Keyes house with a large voice. I was so grateful! I hate missing information when I’m taking a tour. We learned the history of the house including the period when the Giancona family owned the house and were gunned down by the mafia. During this tour another group from ‘Friends of the Cabildo’ came into the house and waited in the front parlor. I heard their guide talking and immediately turned to The Man and told him we were switching groups. The new guide could be heard!
Returning to the parlor we listened again to the history of the house and joined in with the new group. We followed the tour into the gardens and the back buildings where Frances Keyes lived and wrote more than 50 novels. It wasn’t until we had returned to Alberta and I was ensconced in my many books of the Cabildo and Haunted New Orleans that I learned how haunted the Beauregard-Keyes house was. Our guide did not include that little tidbit in our tour. I learned that Frances Keyes lived in the buildings at the back not only because she was crippled with arthritis but because the main house was so haunted! How exciting!
Back on the street and standing beside the brick-walled garden of the Beauregard-Keyes house, our guide told us about the bricks that were found in almost of the French Quarter buildings. Because of their composition they could be easily damaged with a finger and she asked us not to touch any of them. A large man standing next to us turned and dug his finger into the brick wall. I stood there with my mouth open just wanting to whack him one. Grrrrrrrrrrr! (I just wrote a long paragraph of my rant about this – and then deleted it. Some things are just better left unsaid)
Our next stop took us to a lovely little house where the refreshments were being served and the Creole Christmas story being told. The guides were dressed in long gowns and my heart longed to be standing in Tara and calling for Rhett Butler! Afterwards I stayed clear of the refreshments being served and gratefully accepted a small cup of tea before wandering into the little garden behind the residence. It was so beautiful I wanted to cry with my longing to live in this incredible place.
When we returned to the meeting place we were allowed to take a tour of the first house we missed because of switching tour guides. We wandered around by ourselves and marveled at the architecture of the Pontalba buildings. The apartment we were viewing was part of the two buildings that Baroness Micaela Pontalba had built on either side of Jackson Square. Her ‘AP’ monogram can be seen in the beautiful scrolling wrought iron balconies.
At the end of our tour we arrived back in the museum store and spent some time browsing through the offerings on display. We came away with many books and some jewelry that I just had to have! All proceeds went to the ‘Friends of the Cabildo’ which we were happy to support.
Another great tour!