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G L-f de Villiers

Licenses and Certifications

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Guide at a Glance

  • Locations

    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

  • Activities

    Cocktail Tour, Heritage-History Tour, Lifestyle, Mystery Tour, Sightseeing, Walking Tour

  • Guiding Experience

    28 years

  • Languages

    English

  • Licenses/Certifications

    City of New Orleans License

Guide Bio

Get to Know New Orleans Guide Glenn de Villier

When asked what it takes to be a good tour guide, Glenn de Villier says, “A deep understanding of your subject, and a marvelous personality,” so it’s a jolly good thing he embodies both, as rave reviews of his tours attest. We caught up with de Villier, a historian, writer, and tour guide who knows New Orleans, to learn more about his past and current style of guiding. Bonus: de Villier shares his favorite places to eat traditional southern comfort food, and since he was born and bred in the same area, you can bet he knows what he’s talking about.

It’s an honor to be able to speak with you, Glenn. Tell us, how did you discover your love for guiding?

It’s always been fun! I was raised to appreciate diversity and kindness. There really is no better way to display graciousness than as a host. So, when I was at university and was invited by a prominent hotelier to be the guide for Earl Spencer, his wife, and their entourage, I was, naturally, very flattered. Our subsequent adventure proved satisfying, and it wasn’t too long before I received a call from other fine properties. My next tour was with Bono and U2.

Is guiding in New Orleans your destiny, or do you think you’ll ever guide elsewhere?

It is essential, I believe, to do what one knows best. For me, that’s New Orleans and Louisiana. I like that our tours are never scripted, and our service is personal. We truly like our guests to be a part of the city, and this sort of community spirit makes me want to stay put.

Since you were born and raised in Louisiana, you must know it inside and out. What’s your favorite thing about the area?

Being born and bred in Louisiana was the easy part! The joy comes from being a part of it. My favorite thing is the rich culture, and the sharing thereof. Nothing can replace heritage or serious studies into a region. My family has been in Louisiana for about 300 years. My academic background includes several classes in Louisiana history and culture throughout primary and secondary school, all of which is supplemented by a deep understanding of European and North American history, as well as literature provided to me by outstanding scholars such as T. Harry Williams and Cleanth Brooks.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My first, great hope is that my dog, Spencer, will allow me to sleep until 7:30. If not, we play a little game of hide and seek with the covers before he gets his walk around our neighborhood, the charming Vieux Carre. We visit with the neighbors along the way, and, sometimes, have a cafe au lait and a baguette at Croissant d’Or. After that, we return home and I get ready for my tour group. When the tour is done and everyone is happy, I take lunch at Antoine’s or Little Vic’s. Then, it’s time for a swim and a catch-up with friends at the New Orleans Athletic Club. I do, sometimes, have a private evening tour, or a tour for one of the big companies. After that, I check on Spencer and freshen-up for dinner with guests or friends (when they’ll have me!) at the Pelican Club. I do enjoy reading, the movies, and the opera. New Orleans was the first city in what is now the United States to have opera.

What do you like to do in New Orleans on days when you’re not leading your humorous and info-packed trips?

I love talking the talk and walking the walk in my hometown. In New Orleans, we talk to strangers, walk everywhere we can, and work very hard at building a community. My company is a community-based one, and I always tell visitors that if a company asks you to meet them on the street or in a public park, that’s a pretty sure sign they have no relationship at all with the city they are about to try to tell you about. It’s also a good idea to ask where your guide is from.

What is the best tour you have ever lead, and why?

I love kids (even the big ones!), and especially the smart ones. I like having them laugh along with me, and I love it when they ask questions.

Have you ever had a bad guided trip?

This question reminds me of one asked of Zsa-Zsa Gabor. The interviewer asked Miss Gabor how many husbands she had had. She replied coolly, “Other than my own?”. Yes, when I was planning to open my own tour company, I went on a number of bad tours. I learned a lot from the experience. One of our policies is if a guest has a bad tour with another company, they can come along on one of ours for free. We can’t give anyone back their misspent two hours, but we can help make up for a bad guided tour.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve ever had on a guided tour? Ever had any odd requests from clients?

No comment; this is New Orleans, after all.

Since we all know that no job is perfect, would you mind sharing some of the downfalls of guiding in New Orleans? The heat get to you much?

Drink lots of water, stay in the shade, and go for a swim. A good guide will account for, and accommodate for, the weather conditions.

As an experienced guide, can you think of any tips people should know before going on a guided tour?

Find out about your guide before finding yourself on a cheap tour of New Orleans done by someone from Perth.

What does it take to be a good tour guide?

A deep understanding of your subject, and a marvelous personality.

One of your many rave reviewers says you are “great for recommending the best places to eat and drink,” and now I’m curious as to your favorite New Orleans dish. Care to share your most prized comfort food, and where we can find it?

If you really mean “comfort food”, then that would be anything from Antoine’s. Having grown-up eating there, being friendly with the family, and having worked in the wine cellar one summer as a school job, it’s easily my home away from home. They are commemorating their 175th year in business! If you mean where’s my favorite place to dine, it’s the bar at the Pelican Club. I love their scallops.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would like to go to Nepal.

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Historian and writer, educated in New Orleans and abroad, de Villiers brings a native’s perspective, humor, and Southern graciousness to the sometimes illusive facets that compose the charm and beauty of our “Queen City of the South”.

de Villiers is a long-time resident of the French Quarter and a Native son. His primary background is in History. He received his education in Louisiana and in Europe. de Villiers’ mentors include notables in history and literature, among them are Cleanth Brooks, Dr. Walker Percy, Dr. Kenneth Holditch, Charlie Bishop, Elizabeth Penfield, T. Harry Williams, Joseph Tregle, Steve Ambrose, Joseph Logsdon, and Nick Mueller. de Villiers has known Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, for many years and spent time with Tennessee Williams in New Orleans and in Key West. Originally licensed as a historical guide in 1989, de Villiers is retired from a career in public service and academia.

G L-f de Villiers' Reviews

  • GLFDV
    Reply

    Glenn’s tour was fantastic. He’s very well-educated about the history, culture, art, and life of New Orleans. He was raised in the French Quarter, and really have such interesting tidbits about the people & life which made/makes NOLA what it is. He got us into fantastic vantage points, buildings, etc. His tour totally enhanced our knowledge about the city, it’s history, it’s people, architecture, etc. We are not “tour people” yet walking around with him, and learning more about this unique place was fantastic.-Diana R. (Chicago)

  • Glenn De Villier
    Reply

    As seen on Frommers.com: “G L-f de Villiers Tours — Multi-degreed, dishy raconteur Glenn de Villiers is a local native who traces his family lineage directly to a key figure in the founding of New Orleans. The city’s history, then, is literally in his DNA. The tall, chapeaued bon vivant is worth following around the French Quarter for his laissez-faire saunter and breezy repartee alone, but his insider perspective can’t be replicated through a library of books. Glenn describes the customs and culture like he’s lived it (he has), and serves up the facts with urbane wit and a generous dollop of gossip. It works best on his Literary and Gay History “Twirl!” tours, though his French Quarter, Cemetery, and Louisiana History tours are all worthy. Some might find this personal take tiresome. Not me. Added pluses: He maxes his groups at 12 participants and donates profits to worthy local causes.”

  • robbalentine
    Reply

    This tour was an amazing look at historical New Orleans, told by a native with a true Old Louisiana pedigree. We initially booked Glenn for a French Quarter tour, but with the rain, he suggested we might be better served with a car tour of the city. We heartily agreed and he took us all over town, narrating as I drove. We saw the sights and he was able to fill us in on the history of almost every place we passed, including juicy tidbits and gossip to color each factoid. As a bonus, he later invited and accompanied us to a true French Quarter July 4th celebration on a balcony overlooking the cathedral with a fantastic view of the fireworks. We were treated to much more than the price we paid and for that, we are grateful. I would recommend this tour to anyone wishing to learn the inside secrets New Orleans has to offer.

  • fabmissc
    Reply

    Glenn is a New Orleans native and knows literally everything there is to know and more about the city. The tour that we took was really amazing. Glenn’s showed us around the French Quarter and also the Garden District. We saw the best of the city – both regular haunts and hidden spots. Each location had a unique story that we felt only Glenn knew about. We would highly recommend Glenn as a guide in New Orleans. I can’t imagine anyone better.

  • michael
    Reply

    Taking a tour with Glenn is like visiting an old friend from out of town who passionately wants to show you the uniqueness of his city. Glenn is a most unusual “tour guide”. He does it not for the money, but because he truly loves to share with you his experiences in New Orleans by relating its history, not only from what he has read and been taught in school, but also from what his grandparents, their friends and family, and his own family has related to him. Glenn so loves New Orleans that he donates his tour fees to local preservation associations. Glenn conducts a number of different tours. We took the walking tour of the City and were so awed by it that we took the literary tour the next day. I later read “Murder at Antoine’s”, written by a New Orleans author whose house Glenn showed us, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Glenn’s taking us to many of the places in the book and explaining their history made reading the book much more rewarding. Unfortunately, we were only in New Orleans for two days so we could not take any more tours. However, we look forward to returning to New Orleans in October, taking the rest of Glenn’s tours, and sharing more time with him.

  • yrs1010
    Reply

    He is such an EXCELLENT tour guide! My daughter and I went on a tour with him last year and it was GREAT!!! He’s so knowledgeable…I visit New Orleans all of the time and found out just how little I really knew about that amazing city!

  • WillChurchill
    Reply

    We asked Glenn for a literary tour and had a FANTASTIC time listening to his accounts of authors’ lives and exploits (some of them first hand) as we strolled through the French Quarter. Our tour had a sort of thematic home base in Tennessee Williams and branched out in all directions–historical writers, Faulkner’s New Orleans days, and lesser known authors with local ties. Glenn covered a lot of ground and knew his stuff. We never hurried. Glenn was happy to stop and linger on a question or place things into context or simply humor our curiosities. When I asked about New Orleans’ connections to the JFK assassination, we launched into a lengthy and delightful detour–chock full of Glenn’s jaunty, native take on his home city (over beers, no less). Of all the fun we had in New Orleans, our time with Glenn may have been my favorite part.

  • grahamgordy
    Reply

    Glenn really is the best there is. Whether it’s your first visit to New Orleans or your fortieth, you will learn loads and I cannot imagine a more informative and entertaining tour (or human). We were interested in a literary tour of the French Quarter, but this turned into much more. Glenn is fundamentally knowledgeable in literature, history, general gossip (our favorite), and essentially any question we could muster for him. Hell, we spent over an hour on the roof of the Omni Royal drinking cocktails and talking through JFK assassination theories and their New Orleans connections. In other words, Glenn’s knowledge is vast enough that he can cater to your whims, run-of-the-mill to peculiar. We also managed to get pretty drunk on the tour and stumble away with five or six impeccable restaurant recommendations. Call Glenn!

  • AmyG
    Reply

    We spent an afternoon with Glenn and it was one of the highlights of our trip to New Orleans. Glenn knew tons about the real history of New Orleans and even sprinkled in a little fun, lighthearted local gossip as we walked. It made you feel like you knew a little about the people who actually lived in the area and what their lives were like. He was great for recommending the best places to eat and drink from a local’s perspective…not for a tour book’s perspective. All his recommendations were fantastic. The walk was perfectly-paced and we even stopped for a “historical” sidecar to keep our energy up and were treated to a beautiful roof-top view of the city we never would have found on our own.

  • DirectorofAwesome
    Reply

    Tour companies in New Orleans are generally more side show than tour. Fabricated stories with a sprinkle of historic tidbits created on the fly by the colorful folks in obserde costume is fun for a moment – but no where nearly as interesting as the real New Orleans. For the real deal… You need Glenn. Passionate. Accurate. Interesting. Informative. He takes his time making sure to give you the Big Easy in a way that only a New Orleans born historian can. Do yourself a favor and your trip to New Orleans justice… Book a tour with this guy toooooday!

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