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New Orleans Day Trippin: Into the Cajun Country

cajun-country-swamp Louisiana ain’t one of the nation’s wealthiest states monetarily. But I’d dare say that we are THE wealthiest as far as culture goes. We are culturally rich and diverse.

Think about it. We got New Orleans, the nation’s first and probably still only true melting pot with it’s own food and music and culture and we got the Cajun country with it’s own food, music, language and unique culture. And both of these are just in the southern part of the state. The rest of Louisiana has unique places like Natchitoches, St. Francisville and, well, I must confess, I don’t know very much about the rest of Louisiana.

The fact is that when people think of Louisiana New Orleans and the Cajun country are the first things that spring to mind. And other than the oil industry, which provides about 25% of the oil that the U.S. uses and farming there is not much else that readily stands out. So it’s southern Louisiana that holds the lion’s share of this unique and world renowned culture that is Louisiana.

Since this blog is about New Orleans mainly, I do like to include places one can go and check out just a short drive from the city. If you get in your car and head up I-10 and go west for about two hours that will put you smack dab in the heart of the country Cajun or le pays Cajun as some will say in French.

You could actually do a day trip if you left early enough in the morning and had some specific places to go marked off with a good map. Bringing a GPS would make it easier getting around.

Take the Interstate to Breaux Bridge, the cute little town that holds the annual Crawfish Festival. They got some nice little coffeeshops, cafes and shops. Then trek to St. Martinville, prominent in Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which at one time was considered the capital of Cajunity.

It’s got a beautiful town square with the old St. Martin church, some museums, some cafe’s and a beautiful state park where you can tour some old typical homes from a bygone era. (My ancestors, the Olivier’s, actually owned one of the homes before it was donated to the park system.) This town is where my father’s family is from and where I spent a lot of my childhood.

There are several swamp tours offered in the Cajun country so take your pick. On your way back to New Orleans be sure to eat at world-renowned Prejean’s in Lafayette which is off the Interstate. Then head on back to New Orleans.

If you stay a night in the Cajun country you’ll get to go to Mulate’s in Breaux Bridge where you can feast on typical Cajun fare and dance to some good old time Cajun music. They have a live band there from 7:00 to 10:00 every night, seven days a week.

With a little trip to the Cajun country you’ll “pass a good time, cher”, and you’ll get a real taste of more of the real cultural wealth of this state.  You’ll see some beautiful countryside and some quaint little towns, get to hear some authentic Cajun accents, maybe hear a little French, eat some great food, hear some great music and maybe even dance a little Cajun. Talk about! Coo-yaw!

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