Anne Rice’s New Orleans
Long before Sookie Stackhouse or any Originals, before anyone cared whether you were Team Edward or Team Jacob, there was Lestat—and the originator of the modern vampire era, author Anne Rice. Love her or loathe her, the New Orelans native has been one of her hometown’s biggest boosters. After Interview with the Vampire exploded in the 1980s, hordes of fans descended on her Garden District home, hanging out for days on end, communing with each other and whatever spirits they could conjure. Rice famously egged on the whole spectacle, inviting fans into her home, throwing elaborate Halloween bashes, even making appearances in a coffin. Alas, those heady days are gone, and Rice lives quietly in California now. But visitors still come here to honor the legendary doyenne of fang fiction, including obsessed Twihards mining the eerie ore.
Rice writes seductive descriptions of her hometown and actual locales that are often quite accurate—minus the undead, of course. You can find signed copies of her books at the Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. The following landmarks play a role in her books, movies, and inspirations.
Anne Rice in the French Quarter
The romance of the French Quarter seems to attract vampires, who found easy pickins in its dark corners in the days before electricity.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.: A tomb (empty, of course) with Louis the vampire’s name is located here in the Vampire Chronicle books, and Louis occasionally goes to sit on it and brood. Rumor has it that Rice has purchased a tomb here for her eventual use.
Gallier House, 1132 Royal St.: This famously preserved museum is said by Rice scholars to be the model for the house on Rue Royal that was home to vampires Lestat and Louis in Interview with the Vampire. Also see.
700 to 900 Royal St.: Quite a few of the exteriors for the Interview with the Vampire movie were filmed along this stretch—though the set decorators had to labor long to erase all traces of the 20th century, covering the streets in mud. Imagine how folks who live around here must have felt about it.
Madame John’s Legacy: In the Interview with the Vampire movie, this is the house from which the caskets are being carried as Brad Pitt’s voiceover describes Lestat and the little vampire Claudia going out on the town: “An infant prodigy with a lust for killing that matched his own. Together, they finished off whole families.” Yum.
Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St.: This was Aaron Lightner’s house in The Witching Hour.
Rice’s characters spent time dining well at Café du Monde (800 Decatur St.), Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St.), and Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St.).
Anne Rice in the Garden District
Rice’s books have also featured the Garden District and the area around it, where she and her family used to live in and own properties.
Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St. Charles St.: This upscale hotel and its restaurant, the Caribbean Room (recently reopened after a major renovation), appear in The Witching Hour.
Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, 2001 St. Charles Ave.: The vampire Lestat disappeared from this world through an image of himself in the window of this building.
Commander’s Palace, 1403 Washington Ave.: Rice readers will recognize this restaurant as a favorite of the Mayfair family.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: This is a frequent setting in Rice’s work, especially as a roaming ground for Lestat and Claudia in Interview with the Vampire and as the graveyard for the Mayfairs in The Witching Hour.
Tremé: True & False
From 2010 to 2014, HBO ran the drama Tremé to stellar reviews, intense local curiosity, and a predictable dollop of cynicism. But mostly (given the producers’ widely publicized intent to “get it right”), New Orleans collectively tuned in to see itself portrayed to the nation and debate whether the show in fact nailed the authenticity.
Not surprisingly, opinions differed. But all agreed on two things: 1) It did a better job than The Big Easy; and 2) the show’s location manager had been awfully busy.
Tremé revolves around a collection of musicians and others finding their footing in the gritty months following Katrina. Many of them are from the historic Faubourg Tremé neighborhood. This complex community just north of the French Quarter, considered the oldest African-American neighborhood in America, was the 19th-century home to the city’s free people of color and has for generations been a massively productive musical enclave. It remains a leading incubator of talent and a remarkable keeper of cultural flames. The show was filmed in many locations both inside and outside the real Tremé:
Tremé, the Neighborhood
* St. Augustine Church -- Considered the first Catholic church to integrate African-Americans and whites, it was and remains the beating heart of the Tremé neighborhood.
* Backstreet Cultural Museum -- A modest but essential collection of the cultural traditions unique to its neighborhood: brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians, jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs, baby dolls. See.
* New Orleans African American Museum -- Protecting and promoting African-American history, it’s set in a lovely 1820s Creole villa (1418 Governor Nicholls St.; www.noaam.org).
* Lil’ Dizzy’s -- This local diner is a gathering place for movers, shakers, neighbors, and nobodies, as much for the neighborhood lowdown as for the divine trout Baquet.
* Congo Square -- Slaves and free people of color gathered here to drum, dance, and practice Voodoo rituals and eventually, many believe, give birth to jazz.
* Bayona -- The show’s Jeanette Desautel is roughly modeled on Bayona’s famed chef/owner Susan Spicer. Restaurant Patois is the actual stand-in for the fictional “Desautel’s.”
* Vaughan’s -- Already a character, Kermit Ruffins plays himself on the series. He played his trumpet at Vaughan’s for decades, and now blows at his own Tremé club, the Mother-in-Law Lounge.
* Angelo Brocato’s Ice Cream Parlor -- Creighton Bernette, played by John Goodman, expresses his longing for the post-storm return of the lemon ice at this beloved 100-year-old institution.
* Bacchanal -- Jeannette’s pop-up restaurant at Bacchanal gets rained out, but the scruffy Bywater wine bar with the killer food and lushly unkempt garden lives on, thankfully.
* Tee-Eva’s -- The pie-and-praline queen whose shop has been a fixture on Magazine Street for years had a cameo on Tremé as a bus passenger (5201 Magazine St.; www.tee-evapralines.com; tel. 504/899-8350).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.