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If you want a laid-back, down-home getaway weekend on a budget, Cajun country is the place for cheap thrills! Music, dancing, charming accomodations, a fascinating history, the best food and friendliest people in the world await you there under the Evangeline oak. Let the good times roll with a Cajun French twist!
You know you're in south Louisiana when you pass a pumping oil well on the way with an iron cowboy silhouette welded to the top riding the well like a bucking bronco! And you'll know you have arrived when you stay at the beautifull Old Castillo Bed and Breakfast located beneath the historic Evangeline Oak. The friendly and accomodating owner, Peggy Hulin, greets you with the friendliness you encounter everywhere you go in cajun country. The rooms are beautifully decorated with antiques, comfortable, and look out on lovely garden or bayou views. The house itself has a fascinating history Peggy will share with the guests, and each morning the house fills with the delicious smells of a full cajun breakfast including the traditional cafe au lait and beignets. Guests visit like old friends in the light-filled dining room overlooking a garden of flowers and the famous oak and promenade.
You know you're in south Louisiana when you are surrounded by the history symbolized by the Evangeline Oak. The bittersweet story of Evangeline immortalized by Longfellow culminates under the oak with the legends embroidered by the mists of time. The sturdy oak symbolizes the resilience of the cajuns who built a world of laughter and song and success out of tragedy and repression, and the Evangeline love story will make you fall in love with her ancestors beneath her sturdy branches by the bayou.
Steps away from the Evangeline Oak you will find the Acadian Memorial. A magnificent mural dominates the memorial with a fascinating interactive, short history presentation that tells about the people as individuals who settled the area and tells the story of the Cajun history in their own words as it describes their experiences. A unique way of presenting the story, this will engage even the fidgitiest eight-year-old and draw them into a fascinating glimpse into the tragedy and triumph of the cajuns whose ancestors smile at you today, and whose names are memorialized on the wall. Charge is only $2.00
Twin museums tell the story of St. Martinville with interesting exhibits and descriptions. The African American Museum and the Acadian Memorial offer self-guided tours that tell the story of two peoples who arrived as exiles and joined their fates to build a unique culture. charge is $2.00
A lovely old home houses an interpretive costume exhibit of the Oak and Pine Alley wedding circa 1870. Located in the Church Square.
Central to the survival of the cajuns was their strong faith, and this historic church is considered the Mother Church of the Acadians. It was established in 1765, and the present building dates from 1844. It features guided tours daily in French and English except for Friday morning, and the Evangeline Monument adorns the church square.
Regional art and crafts, displays of the elaborate Mardi Gras robes and still used for plays and performaces, the Opera House is located on the St. Martinville square. Although we did not have time to go, a performance of Our Town was being held the weekend we were there and it got great reviews from some who attended.
Guided tours are offered daily in French and English of this home, circa 1876, on the National Register of Historic Places.
This state park joins "romance and history' with exhibits showing Acadian life. There is a small, rustic Acadian cabin furnished with original "Louisiana cypress" furniture. Also featured is a small garden with the culinary and medicinal herbs used traditionally in the area. Along the banks of the Bayou Teche is the Acadian Farmstead. It is a model of a typical single family home as it would have looked in the early 19th century. The home has the typical outdoor kitchen and bread oven, slave quarters, and barn. There are even cattle of the typical breed raised by Creoles and Acadians in the 19th century. In the Visitor Center there are additional displays of history and culture of the Acadians and Creoles, introductory video, and other items of interest. There is a trail system in the park leading to a blacksmith shop and other places typical of Louisiana early life.
Located on the square in St. Martinville, this little gem of a cafe offers a full bar, soft drinks and light lunch and dinner items and a fabulous array of tempting desserts. They also have live music playing from time to time, and we enjoyed a lovely evening there listening to a local artist singing traditional Cajun music and some popular specialties. The charming owner visits with all the guests and it is lovely place to stop for a drink, a snack, or a meal while sightseeing the many attractions on the St. Martinville Square.
You know you're in south Louisiana when the search for the ultimate crab cake ends here. It must be against the law to get a bad meal in south Louisiana, because the food is great no matter where you eat, but this place sets the bar high even for the other fabulous dining available. I had the crab cake appetizer and the duck, and my husband had the stuffed flounder, and everything was outstanding. It was our splurge evening for my birthday dinner, but was still reasonable for the quality. The atmosphere was charming, and we enjoyed the interesting art and nice wine selection. An acquaintance in the area shared a deligthful story of playing there as a child when it was his grandfather's mercantile store, and riding the hand operated elevators to the second floor where the coffins were stored and playing in the coffins! However, the coffins are gone and the gourmet goodies have landed at this comfortable but sophisitcated fine dining venue.
Mulate's is a chain of restaurants all over the area and is a lively and entertaining place that is the happening spot for Breaux Bridge with nightly bands and dancing. We enjoyed coffee and dessert there and watching the entertainment, but it also serves wonderful cajun specialties and is a popular spot with local families. You know you're in south Louisiana when you compliment the skills of the local dancers and they invite you to dance and teach you how! Before we knew it we were two- stepping and waltzing with the best of them! Well, maybe not the best, but we were so graciously welcomed by the local dancers it didn't matter if our two left feet didn't match the quality of the intricate steps and turns of traditional cajun dancing. It was a delightful and lively evening of fun and you would have to be a real grouch not to have the time of your life with the locals at Mulate's!
....You meet the friendliest people in the world, and even the smallest towns have live music playing someplace on almost any night and a lot of the restuarants include a dance floor.... you see children amusing themselves in a restuarant dancing while their parents eat, including an entire soccer team of little boys still int heir uniforms....you see "drive through" bars with "daquiris to go!"...you see an article in the local paper entitled "Is the Sun Setting on Cockfighting"....folks drive even faster than you do! ......and everybody truly knows how to let the good times roll!