French Quarter Walking Tour Not to Miss—My Honest Review

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Trying to find the best French Quarter walking tour?

There are a lot of walking tours in New Orleans—an exceptional amount. I was shocked when I first started researching!

I knew I wanted to take a couple of tours when I visited, as it’s such an interesting city, but I quickly got overwhelmed with the volume of tours available! So, I did a lot of research to find tour companies and tours that would be good with what I was looking for.

If you’re looking for a French Quarter walking tour that will orient you to this area and share the landmarks, highlights, and history of the city, I’ve got a great one to recommend!

Read on to learn all about my favorite French Quarter walking tour and why I enjoyed it so much, even though it was positively dumping rain!

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this tour review.

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St. Louis Cathedral and St. Louis Square

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New Orleans Secrets French Quarter History Tour Details

If you’re interested in this tour, check out this page for the French Quarter History tour where you can read more information and book it to get tickets.

  • The tour is offered daily and lasts for two hours.
  • You’ll walk for around a mile, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • It is limited to 8 people.
  • The tour is offered rain or shine.
  • It is wheelchair friendly. However, there are some uneven sidewalks.
  • It currently costs $25. (Tips are appreciated!)

They offer other tours as well if you have different interests, including this New Orleans Cocktail tour of a tour of the Garden District.

French Quarter Walking Tour Highlights

Here are the places that are covered on this French Quarter Walking tour. They are some of the top spots in the city to visit and learn about, and they are places you won’t want to miss if you’d like to learn about the history and culture here.

  • Jackson Square
  • St. Louis Cathedral
  • Mississippi River
  • Café du Monde
  • Ursuline Convent
  • Madame Delphine Lalaurie Mansion 
  • Madame John’s House
  • Bourbon Street

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New Orleans Secrets French Quarter Walking Tour

This tour was highly recommended by several travel bloggers I follow. The ratings for this company were also very good overall. So, I decided to go with them and was so glad I did!

We met Dennis at the suggested spot. Unfortunately, bad weather was moving in, and it started drizzling as we made our introductions.

As a result of the weather, we got a private tour, which was amazing. But that wasn’t the only reason we loved this tour.

Our guide, Dennis, was absolutely incredible! Not only was he a great sort with the weather and got us under cover when possible, but he was also incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. This was a second career for him that he’s passionate about, and it’s easy to see.

So, despite the terrible weather, we enjoyed our tour. Dennis was also incredible in that he saw me desperately trying to take pics and notes on my poor wet phone for the blog.

He offered to send me his talking notes to help me with this post. So, I gratefully accepted, and I want to give him credit for the details! My phone and I are grateful.

This post includes information provided by him verbally and from his notes. It does not include everything, though, so it’s still worth going on the tour. He shares a lot of stories and anecdotes that I chose not to include, so you’ll want more!

french quarter building, french quarter tour

Jackson Square

Nowhere in the world will you see this combination of architectural elements as you see in Jackson Square. This area has an eclectic mix of Spanish, French, and American styles.

There are a number of important buildings in the square built by Don Andrés Almonaster Roxas, a third-level nobleman from Spain who served as the royal notary in the late 1700s.

He was the wealthiest man in the Louisiana Territory at the time and the only non-clergy man buried in the cathedral.

St. Louis Cathedral

The highlight of Jackson Square is that it is the oldest continually operating cathedral in the US. The original was destroyed in one of the great two fires in the late 1700s and was rebuilt to its present state. It’s striking both inside and out.

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St. Louis Square and Cathedral


Located to the left of the cathedral, this building acted as the city hall during the Spanish rule of the city. In the mid-1800s, it became the Louisiana State Supreme Court. It’s now a historical museum and a must-see in the city.

There are some incredible artifacts housed in this museum, including:

  • Napoleon death mask
  • Copy of the Louisiana Purchase
  • Engraved stone marker dated 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, one of the two French explorers and brothers who discovered New Orleans
  • Many artifacts from the Colonial period


This building is to the right of the cathedral. It served as the priest’s house during Spanish rule. It’s now a museum with two permanent exhibits highlighting the celebration of New Orleans and Mardi Gras and the city’s resilience following Hurricane Katrina.

St. Anthony Park

This is the well-manicured park behind the cathedral with two interesting aspects.

“Touchdown Jesus”

Locals lovingly refer to the large shadow the statue of Jesus casts on the back facade of the cathedral as the “touchdown Jesus.” It’s a famous shot you’ve undoubtedly seen of New Orleans.

Though this area can get busy with people taking photos, it’s worth grabbing your own shot!

touchdown jesus, back of st louis cathedral at night
Touchdown Jesus

Unofficial Dueling Location

Dueling was technically illegal during colonial times. However, settling matters of honor via duel by blade was common practice. This was done to first blood, though, and not to the death. New Orleans loves a good contradiction, and this is one of many!

He shared a funny story about Bernard de Marigny, an affluent and aristocratic early French colonist and politician. An American blacksmith from Georgia named Mr. Humble inadvertently insulted him, and Marigny challenged him to a duel.

Apparently, it was bad form to decline, and Humble learned he would be blacklisted if he did so. He had the opportunity to choose the location and the weapon, so instead of the typical knife fight, he chose a sledgehammer in the nearby Lake Pontchartrain.

(Given Marigny’s petite size and stature, he rescinded.)

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Back of St. Louis Cathedral

Pontalba Apartments

These are two identical buildings on the sides of Jackson Square heading to the river. They were built in the early 1840s by Michaela Almonaster Pontalba, who has a rather interesting story.

She was the only daughter of Don Andrés Almonaster Roxas, who built the cathedral, Cabildo, and Presbytere. Her mother arranged a marriage for her when she was 15, following her father’s death, to a nobleman in France.

They married in St. Louis Cathedral and moved to France. Her husband’s father handed her a wedding gift—a contract requiring her to release the remainder of her father’s fortune to him. She refused, and he made her life a living hell for over 20 years, imprisoning her in the home.

When he realized he wouldn’t get the fortune unless she were dead, he barged into her room with two pistols and shot her point blank in the chest. She somehow survived and, due to the attack, was finally able to receive a legal divorce.

Michaela returned to New Orleans to complete her father’s work, finishing the updates to the existing structures and building the apartments.

She also had a statue of Andrew Jackson commissioned. It was placed pointing to her apartment window, rumored so he would be tipping his hat to her for eternity. It was also said that she had a relationship with him; however, only they knew for sure.

St. Louis square, Andrew Jackson statue
Andrew Jackson statue in St. Louis Square

Mississippi River

Hernando De Soto discovered The Mississippi River south of present-day Memphis in 1541. In 1699, two French brothers and explorers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, discovered it.

They wanted to determine where it emptied when they came into this area. On the way, they found New Orleans’ current location and decided to start the colony there instead of where it emptied into the Gulf of Mexico.

First, the river has a giant crescent-like bend, enabling them to see a great distance. This was a benefit given the competition for colonial sites between the French, English, and Spanish.

Second, the brothers saw that 30 or more Native American tribes were thriving in this area. The French Market area was actually used as a trading ground in pre-colonial times.

Café du Monde

This New Orleans institution is a must-visit when in New Orleans. They are known for two things: chicory coffee and their famous beignets.

These fried dough puffs covered in powdered sugar are an incredible delight. You can enjoy them all day long as breakfast food, an afternoon snack, or dessert. Some do all of the above!

They are great with their famous chicory coffee.

We learned that you’ll often see a long line at this place, even during the nastiest weather. They do have indoor and outdoor covered seating. And there is a little viewing spot in the back where you can see them make the beignets.

You should try This inexpensive and fun treat at least once here. And they do have decaf if you opt for dessert! If you love them and want to bring some home, you can buy the mix and the coffee at their shop or many around the city.

Other companies make beignets, and it can be a fun little taste test to choose between them. Chances are, though, you’ll stick with this original.

Ursuline Convent

This convent was established in 1727, and it’s the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. It was one of the early buildings established, but also one of the two that did not burn down in the fires in the late 1700s.

The Ursuline nuns came to New Orleans at Governor Bienville’s invitation. He planned to attract people for a virtuous catholic community.

When it was established, the colony of New Orleans was a rough area filled with traders, trappers, and explorers. It wasn’t where people would go to raise a family, so the convent was part of the governor’s plan to establish and grow the colony.

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Ursuline Convent

Lore of the Casket Girls

Once the convent was established, the governor asked the Bishop of Quebec to send orphaned girls to the colony to be educated and married when they were an appropriate age.

The trip from Quebec was long and arduous, so the girls were in rough shape when they arrived.

As the story goes, people believed vampires attacked the young girls during their journey. They were accused of being vampires and locked on the third floor of the convent.

In truth, they suffered from scurvy and looked frail and thin. They carried belongings in French cassettes (large trunks). Thus, the lore of the casket girls was born.

This is a popular place to visit with ghost tours, as some believe the casket girls are still there, hidden behind closed shutters nailed shut with silver nails.

Madame Delphine’s LaLaurie Mansion

Madame Delphine was born to a rich and influential family. She was married twice, though nothing is known about her first husband. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

She later married Dr. LaLaurie, and they lived in the French Quarter. The LaLauries were known for hosting many parties, and these parties were the go-to place for New Orleans society.

At one of her parties, a fire broke out in the kitchen. When the fire brigade arrived, they found an enslaved person chained to the stove. She admitted to setting the fire as she couldn’t stand to stay one more night in the home.

When the house was inspected, a horrible scene was found. Apparently, Madame LaLaurie horrifically abused her enslaved staff, torturing and maiming them. People were found in terrible torture devices, and the severed limbs of many poor people were found.

She escaped justice but will forever be known as the infamous serial killer of enslaved people.

Madame Delphine’s Halloween decorations

Madame John’s House

This is one of the two French Colonial buildings that survived the great fires of 1788 and 1794. It’s the best example of French Colonial construction from the era prior to the great fires.

Madame John’s Legacy

Madame John’s Legacy became famous through George Washington Cable, a popular short story writer in the late 1800s. His pieces often centered around the plight of the free people of color.

The Code Noir was a book of rules that regulated the slavery industry (including Free People of Color). It forbade interracial marriages. Though it was illegal, it did happen.

The author wrote about a French aristocrat in love with a woman who was a Free Person of Color. The story helped to create sympathy for the story of their love and how they were forbidden to be married.

Upon his death, he bequeathed his home to her: Madame John’s Legacy.

Bourbon Street

This famous New Orleans Street may be the city’s most famous. In fact, it’s often considered “party central” in a city that knows how to party.

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Overlooking Bourbon Street

Other Fun and Interesting Tour Highlights

There were a lot of other fun and interesting parts of the tour. Here are some of the highlights not mentioned above.

  • House where Elvis Presley sang the “crawfish song” in the opening scene of his movie, King Creole. The movie was filmed entirely in New Orleans.
  • The building was shot in The Originals Netflix vampire series.
  • Beautiful Creole courtyards.
  • Pirate’s Alley.
  • The story of the “English turn.”
  • Other famous TV and movie filming spots and the story behind jazz funerals.

Why You Should Take a French Quarter Walking Tour

A French Quarter walking tour is one of the top things to do in New Orleans. The French Quarter is an incredibly historic area to visit, with a rich cultural history dating back centuries.

Throughout its history, New Orleans was ruled by France, Spain, and England. There is also a strong influence from African and Native American cultures, making it a cultural melting pot.

You’ll find influences everywhere of its unique history, from the architecture to the food and the music. Though you can wander the French Quarter on your own easily, exploring on a tour is a great idea.

With a tour, you can learn about the history and culture of New Orleans. It’s a great way to get your orientation of the city’s historic area, insider recommendations for things to do and restaurants, and more! I generally recommend starting trips to a new city with a walking tour.

Grab a Spot at the Best French Quarter Walking Tour!

You can’t go wrong with this French Quarter walking tour. Be sure to ask for Dennis when you book, as he was great.

If you go, tell Dennis Sam says hi!

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