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Behind the Scenes: The Originals Mardi Gras Finale in Georgia’s French Quarter

Behind the Scenes: The Originals Mardi Gras Finale in Georgia’s French Quarter

It’s Mardi Gras season! If you’re like us, Mardi Gras makes you think of more than just colorful beads and parades—it also reminds you of the Originals series finale!

To kick off the party, we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes info about the finale and how you can still experience a taste of New Orleans in Georgia’s French Quarter™!

The Originals Series Finale

Filming the finale in Old Towne. Used with permission on 2/11/2017 by Rockdale Citizen

“When the Saints Go Marching In” was the final episode of the Originals series, marking the end of a 5-season saga. A few minutes into the finale, fans were treated to a lively Mardis Gras scene as Hope searched for Klaus.

Despite the convincing New Orleans setting, this scene and most of the series were filmed in Old Town Conyers, Georgia! From 2013 to 2018, ornate balconies, fake street signs, and even false storefronts transformed Center and Commercial Streets into semi-permanent French Quarters.

Mardi Gras art in Conyers

When the series finale came around, the crew went all out with extensive decorations that turned Center Street into a Mardi Gras scene fit for New Orleans. The storefronts were hung with purple and green banners. Mardi Gras beads were liberally distributed, and floats and marching bands flooded the streets. The festive affair filled the scene with balloons, banners, and costumes. A rain of confetti filled the air for a final touch, covering everything in purple, green, and gold.

Although the Mardi Gras parade was lively and happy, the end of the series brought bittersweet feelings to everyone involved.

In an interview with reporter Larry Stanford, Michael Jones (the location manager for the Originals) said, “I’m happy to wrap up our series on such a high note, but at the same time I’m going to miss coming and filming.”

The series finale also affected the townspeople, who loved the cast and crew filming in Conyers. “We were all sad, of course, as it felt like the ending of an era, but knew the cast and some of the crew were ready to explore other avenues,” said Christie, a local who’d been on-site for the majority of filming. She also mentioned that many of the crew stayed in the area to continue working on the Originals’ spin-off series, Legacies, which also films in Conyers.

The Rockdale Newton Citizen confirmed that about 20% of the production’s full-time employees live right in Rockdale County, and Warner Bros. will continue to film shows in the area.

Georgia’s French Quarter™ Today

Fun fact: you can still see some prop balconies and signs on storefronts around town, whose owners were given a choice to keep their French Quarter décor!

Some stores on Commercial Street kept their ornate balconies

Some fan favorites include the Sandwich Shop (the exterior of Rousseau’s) and Phil’s Pawn Shop (an often-featured white-columned building). An entire row of shops on Commercial Street kept their ornate balconies, and you’ll recognize the Celtic Tavern from its featured bar.

For a full tour of filming locations around town, come see us at Filmed in the South!

*Given permission on 2/11/2017 by Rockdale Citizen

My Bloody Valentine: The Originals’ Most Epic Romances

My Bloody Valentine: The Originals’ Most Epic Romances

Like every good supernatural TV show, The Originals has its fair share of spicy romances. From unforgettable love stories to edge-of-your-seat drama with the enemy of the week, the Original siblings’ love lives are as much a part of the storyline as whomever they’re fighting that week.

So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than a look at 5 of the most epic romances from The Originals? Here are our favorite couples from the series and why we love them together!

Elijah & Hayley

“What if?” is one of the most tantalizing questions in every unfinished romance—maybe that’s why we can’t get enough of Elijah and Hayley’s love story!

Elijah immediately establishes himself as a protector for Hayley and her unborn child out of a sense of duty for family. But very quickly, we can see that the two have chemistry! Unfortunately, there’s always something keeping Hayley and Elijah from being fully together, and we only get teasing glimpses of what could have been.

Elijah is never far from Hayley’s side

However, it’s clear that Hayley’s heart always belongs to Elijah and that he feels the same. Despite hardships and separation, this enduring love for each other shows us what a fantastic couple they would have been if they’d only been given a chance!

Klaus & Cami

We rarely get to see Klaus’s vulnerable side, but he lays everything bare when he’s with Camille. It’s touching to see him so open and tender toward someone, allowing us to see him in a better light.

The two eventually develop genuine feelings for each other, only to be separated by Aurora’s vindictive plans. Unfortunately, Klaus’s love for Cami becomes his weakness, making her a target for all his enemies. But even after Cami is dead, we see Klaus dreaming of her and can rest assured that they had something powerful and real even if they didn’t get to enjoy it for long.

Rebekah & Marcel

Talk about drawn-out romances! Rebekah and Marcel’s story spans several centuries and constant guilt trips over Rebekah’s loyalty to her siblings.

After a brief attempt at romance, Marcel and Rebekah are separated when Klaus forbids their love and daggers Rebekah for the next half-century. Despite some following animosity between Marcel and his adopted family (not to mention Rebekah’s body swap!), the two of them manage to rekindle their relationship throughout the series.

Finally, at the end of season four, we see the two lovers have worked past their differences and started a new life, free from the drama of New Orleans! We wish it could’ve ended with their happily ever after, but we can’t really blame Rebekah for returning out of love for her family.

Rebekah eventually returns because she loves her family. 

Kol & Davina

Kol is the epitome of an anti-hero, but we learn to love him as we see his heart through Davina’s love-struck eyes. At first, Kol is blood-thirsty and at odds with the inner circle of siblings. But love has a funny way of changing our priorities and hearts, as we can see when Kol falls in love with Davina. Although Davina is understandably furious when she finds out about Kol’s true identity, she manages to forgive him and love him back.

Their passion is possibly the strongest in the series, and Davina repeatedly goes to dangerous lengths to bring Kol back to life so that they can be together and earn one of the series’ few happy endings.

Freya & Keelin

Freya & Keelin’s wedding

By all standards, Freya and Keelin should not work as a couple! These two have the rockiest start in the series—Freya literally held Keelin hostage—but somehow, they move past their differences to develop a sweet and stable bond.

Their friendship-first relationship gives them one of the most solid foundations in the series, and they continually show trust and support in each other. Their long-term commitment despite time apart is absolutely heart-warming, and we get to see their well-earned happy ending when they marry and decide to start a family of their own. Hooray!

Tell Us Your Favorite Romance!

Who do you think is the most epic couple? Even if it’s not one of our picks, let us know your favorite couple in the comments below and why you love them so much!

How Olde Town Conyers Became Georgia’s French Quarter

How Olde Town Conyers Became Georgia’s French Quarter

Did you know that the Originals was not filmed in New Orleans? While the ornate balconies, mardi gras celebrations, and voodoo shops you see on screen are convincing, they were filmed far from the authentic French Quarter!

In reality, aside from a few scenes filmed on location for the pilot episode, the Originals was shot almost entirely in the small town of Conyers, Georgia! Today, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how Conyers became Georgia’s French Quarter™ and the Originals filming location!

Klaus and Elijah in front of the voodoo shop in Conyers

Olde Town Conyers & the Originals

Like many southern towns, Conyers has a charming Olde Town section that dates back to the 1800s. Along Center Street and Commercial Street, brick shops of all sizes and shapes line up side-by-side, each boasting a different exterior color and style.

Center Street in Old Towne Conyers on a normal day

On a typical day, visitors can enjoy an old-fashioned soda fountain, boutique shops and restaurants, and a historic train depot in a quiet, southern atmosphere. If you didn’t know that the Originals was filmed here, you’d never even suspect it!

However, Conyers was no stranger to the Vampire Diaries saga, making it a convenient and familiar place to continue the story. During the filming of the Vampire Diaries, the cast made several trips to Conyers. For example, the Olde Town train station, Celtic Tavern, and The Pointe were used in “We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street,” an episode based in New Orleans. It was only natural that the New Orleans-based series would continue in Conyers, especially with its close proximity to Atlanta and the multiple film studios in town.

Transforming Olde Town into the French Quarter

In early 2013, Old Towne began a series of significant transformations that turned its quiet Georgia streets into a bustling NOLA district.

An Old Towne shop dressed up for a Mardis Gras scene

One of the primary filming locations, Center Street, underwent a total cosmetic makeover that included fresh paint, ornate balconies, and new street signs, like Rue St. Anne and Rue Dauphine. Some of the shops, like the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop, were fitted with false fronts to add more height or character to the existing design. The set crew even added authentic-looking archways to one of the town’s simple brick alleys, turning it into the iconic entrance to the Compound.

These changes stayed in place for all 5 years of filming! Some shops also chose to keep their Originals signs up the whole time, in addition to their real business displays. And once filming ended, a few of the shops down on Commercial Street, including the building that served as Rousseau’s, decided to keep their balconies, giving the street a permanent bit of New Orleans flair.

These businesses still have their French Quarter balconies

Throughout the show, other parts of the town became small pockets of New Orleans as needed. A parking lot served as the Witches Cauldron, while the town’s spacious alleys became cute bistros with lights and plenty of seating.

The crews would bring Mardis Gras beads, ferns, trees, furniture, or street lights to turn the Georgia landscape into a French Quarter locale. They even had special equipment that could control what time of day each scened appeared to take place in! These small changes would be set up and wholly torn down within a few hours of filming the necessary scene so that Conyers could get back to business as usual.

Equipment and floats for the finale

The final piece of the set was a green screen that allowed them to add a New Orleans backdrop to Center Street. This versatile element helped cement the idea that all the action really took place in the French Quarter.

Other Originals Filming Locations in Conyers

While much of the filming took place on Olde Town’s streets, a fair bit of filming happened inside the studio as well.

For example, the pilot episode features Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans, but after the first episode, the cemetery was recreated on set with Styrofoam headstones! The Mikaelson compound, Rousseau’s, and most other interiors were set creations as well. Another surprising Conyers location is the bayou. The bayou was actually filmed at a pond on the studio grounds! They just added a cabin and a rickety pier to sell the scene.

Additionally, most of the inside scenes were shot on set, rather than in actual buildings. For example, The Sandwich Shop is shown frequently as the exterior to Rousseau’s, but the interior wasn’t actually used for filming. Only a few locations in town had filming done inside. The one that they used the most was the Celtic Tavern restaurant on Commercial Street, whose bar and restaurant were featured in several episodes.

The Celtic Tavern restaurant was featured in several episodes

Visiting the Originals Filming Locations

We’d love to show you around Olde Town Conyers! Our tour guides were on-site for all five seasons of filming, giving them unparalleled insights into each filming location in town. Contact us about setting up a tour, and come see exactly where your favorite scenes happened!

One of the last scenes shot in Olde Town

Love The Originals? Take a Tour of the Filming Location!

by Carrie Cochran

Hello friends, fellow travelers, and tv show fanatics!

Welcome to a special edition of The Mandala Traveler! As you regular readers know, I usually focus on fun activities and beautiful destinations instead of film tours. However, I wanted to mix things up this week based on the popularity of one of my previous posts: Tour the Real Town Behind Mystic Falls, VA. As you may already know, Mystic Falls is the fictional home to the popular TVD series, and much of the filming was done in the beautiful southern town of Covington, GA. What you may not know is that the popular spin-off series, The Originals, was also largely filmed in Georgia–in a town less than 20 minutes away!

That’s right! Despite being based in New Orleans, many of those beautiful balconied buildings in The Originals are actually from the quaint town of Conyers, Georgia.

With a busy schedule like this, there’s no knowing what will be going on when you visit! However, if you manage to catch it on a slow, warm Southern day, you’ll have the place mostly to yourself. And if you get lost, the residents are more than happy to point you in the right direction and share a few fun facts, too.

The Historic Train Depot

While the Historic Train Depot wasn’t technically a shooting location (as far as I know), you’ll definitely want to start your tour here. Besides doubling as the town’s welcome center, the train depot also offers some fun photo ops for fans of both series.
Back by the bathrooms, you can pose with cutouts of Elena, Damon, and Stefan. You can also sit down with The Original family and Marcel beneath the Season 3 poster in the front room!

Plus, several of the show’s iconic signs are hanging up here, including Gillespie’s Pub, Second Life Vinyl, and Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop.

I also highly recommend parking in this area because it’s free and easy to get in and out of, whereas the main street tends to get busy.

Center Street

Perhaps the most recognizable place you’ll see, Center Street served as the central boulevard for many of the series’ festivals, funerals, and random street scenes.

This street was often featured in The Originals series for festival and shopping scenes

While many of the shop signs were replaced with neon ones advertising jazz clubs or antique stores, and the storefronts were fitted with fake awnings and columns for filming, you can still recognize some of the individual buildings.
For example, Phil’s Pawn Shop (911 Center Street, Conyers, GA) is an often-featured white building with enormous columns and a very impressive façade. It’s shown throughout the series without the pawn sign, including in the series final Mardis Gras scene (S5:E13, 05:38).

Phil’s Pawn Bank on Center Street in Conyers, GA

In Season 1, Episode 20 during Father Kieran’s Wake, you can see the end of this street with a trolley passing by on the train tracks and all the buildings decked out with fake balconies and columns. You may recognize the pink building pictured below, which is just a couple doors down from the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop.

This scene is pictured at Father Kieran’s funeral

Another main-street favorite is Simply Naked Candles (906 Center Street, Conyers, GA), which doubles as the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop throughout the series. This cute white building is given a makeover with distress red brick, green trim, and some columns for an eerie appearance in the show. You can take a closer look in Season 1, Episode 2, about 16 minutes in.

Simply Naked Candles doubles as the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop in Seasons 1, 3, and 4

I think the best example of Center Street seen in the show is actually in Season 3, Episode 11. Almost 15 minutes in, Davina walks down the street, and you can clearly see several of Conyer’s buildings, including The Sandwich Factory, part of the pawnshop, and several of the storefronts across the street, including the New Depot Players and The Soapary. You can also see the circular bird decal pictured below in one of the shop windows and recognize the striped awnings and colored brick cutouts on the storefronts. You can even duck into the little alleyway that Kol pulls Davina into!

The first four buildings on the right and last two on the left are clearly scene at 15 minutes in S3:E11!

In fact, I actually recommend you duck down that alley, because it’s the quickest way to check out the Witches Cauldron. Turn right and head back to the small parking area behind 922 Center Street. This little area is shown time to time in Seasons 1, 3, & 4, and it’s usually set up with bistro tables and string lights. It looks much different in its usual role as a parking lot, but you can definitely see the resemblance. I recommend comparing it to Season 1, Episode 3, 17:32.

Parking lot used as The Witches Cauldron

The Sandwich Shop

You may have recognized the ornately balconied building sitting on the corner across from the pawnshop. That’s because it’s the outside of Rousseau’s! The Originals cast heads to Rousseau’s almost every episode, it seems, so you’ve probably seen quite a few glimpses of this cool building with the sign swinging in the New Orleans’ breeze.

The Sandwich Factory doubles as Rousseau’s exterior

The inside is not actually a bar, but a delicious sandwich shop called The Sandwich Factory. We ate lunch there, and the staff was so friendly and was happy to talk about life in a movie town. I highly recommend it for a mid-tour snack stop! The address is 903 Commercial Street, Conyers, GA.

Celtic Tavern

If you head down Commercial Street, you’ll see a few more recognizable landmarks, including the restaurant used as Gillespie’s Pub in Season 3, Episode 7, 37:15. This scene shows Davina sitting alone at the bar while Marcel and Vincent stand outside.

The Celtic Tavern is where the Gillespie’s Pub scene was filmed

Behind Marcel’s shoulder, you can make out some of the ornate balconies down this street.

The Pointe

The final stop on your tour is a location you might not have thought twice about during the scene, but it probably was an awesome scene to watch in person! Behind The Pointe restaurant, there is an empty lot by the railroad tracks (939 Railroad Street NW, Conyers, GA).

This lot is where Cortez compels the limousine driver to blow up the limo when he first arrives in New Orleans to confront Klaus! You can see the house across the tracks peeking over the hill, and that’s how you’ll recognize this scene from Season 3, Episode 15.

Location of the limo explosion in Season 3

We had such a great time exploring Conyers, GA! My husband has never seen the series, but the town was so charming on its own, it made a great adventure for both of us. We ended our tour with a stop by the old-fashioned soda fountain at the Beasley Drug Store and a quick loop around the Lewis Vaughn Gardens. These aren’t part of the show (to my knowledge) but are definitely worth a quick visit.

If you do the tour, you may even want to revisit some of these places at night, just to really embrace the full Originals aesthetic! It is such an amazing feeling to stand somewhere your favorite characters have stood and imagine yourself right in the scene. I hope you get the chance to do so!

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