The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.
–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.
New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.
The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.
This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.
For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”
- Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.
This street is named for Jean-Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, the founder of New Orleans and Louisiana.
813 Bienville Street
In a city famed for its landmark restaurants, Arnaud’s is one of the “Grande Dames.” This distinguished handful includes many of the city’s oldest and most famous eateries including Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, Broussard’s, Brennan’s, and Tujague’s, a few of which are known to be haunted. Opened in 1918 by “colorful” French wine dealer Arnaud Cazenave, Arnaud’s has specialized in and refined the art of classic Creole cuisine in its more than hundred years of existence.
Cazenave’s ebullient personality—he encouraged everyone to address him with the title “Count”—manifested itself in the restaurant’s atmosphere as well as the food. The haughty strictures of French etiquette were applied to the restaurants numerous dining rooms, the service of the wait staff, and every single place setting. Though he passed in 1948, Count Arnuad is known to continue to adjust place settings if they don’t conform to his standards. Additionally, his dapper spirit, resplendent in an old-fashioned tuxedo, has been spotted by guests and staff alike.
Upon the Count’s death, operations of the restaurant passed to his daughter Germaine Cazenave Wells, a personality in her own right. In 1978, the restaurant passed out of the Cazenave family to the Casbarian family, who continue to run it to the Count’s specifications. In 1983, the Casbarians opened a Mardi Gras Museum on the restaurant’s second floor in memory of Mrs. Wells. It is said that her spirit continues to be seen in that area, sometimes wearing the outsized hats she was known for.
The restaurant’s bar, Le Richelieu, occupies the oldest building on the restaurant’s premises which is said to date to the 19th century. Here patrons and staff have sometimes experienced cold spots and apparitions which may include the inimitable Count Arnaud.
- Duplechien, Brad. “Arnaud’s Restaurant – New Orleans, LA (Eternal Hosts).” Haunted National Blog. 6 September 2016.
- Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2017.
- Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts III. Metairie, LA: Lycanthrope Press, 2004.
- McNulty, Ian. “Style, Flavor and History: Exploring the “Grande Dames” of Creole Dining.” com. Accessed 15 August 2019.
- Stuart, Bonnye. Haunted New Orleans: Southern Spirits, Garden District Ghosts, and Vampire Venues. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2012.