Bayou Teche Byway
Looping along the path of a former channel of the Mississippi River, Bayou Teche Byway winds through south Louisiana’s lush swamps and moss-draped bayous. From its southernmost point in Morgan City to its northern end in Arnaudville, the byway crosses beautiful marshes and fields of sugar cane, connecting lovely towns that have well-preserved historic districts. Sample Acadian culture in cafés and dance halls that serve up Cajun and zydeco music along with boiled crawfish and étouffée. Tour stately mansions along the bayou for a look at the lifestyles of sugar barons from the past. The cuisine, customs and architecture here reflect influences of Native American, European, African, Caribbean and other peoples who settled the area. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
Morgan City to Franklin
Stroll Morgan City’s historic district, where you can browse antique shops or view the Atchafalaya River from a wharf-side pavilion. For a closer look at the Great Atchafalaya Basin (and maybe a ’gator or two), take a guided swamp tour in nearby Patterson. There you’ll also find a branch of the Louisiana State Museum, noted for its displays on aviation and the cypress industry. Next stop: Franklin, whose more than 400 historic properties include the Grevemberg House Museum, a gracious antebellum townhouse filled with Civil War artifacts and antique toys. Pause for a hamburger or po-boy at Iberia Cash Groceries; then, visit Charenton, where the Chitimacha Museum reveals the history of Bayou Teche’s early inhabitants.
Franklin to New Iberia
In the town of Jeanerette, be sure to sample the French bread and ginger cakes at LeJeune’s Bakery, whose owners still use the bakery’s original 19th-century recipes. Farther along the byway, in New Iberia, stands Shadows-on-the-Teche. The antebellum home built by a wealthy sugar planter now is a museum, surrounded by graceful live oaks. Near New Iberia, tour the Avery Island factory where world-famous Tabasco® pepper sauce is made. The plant’s founder also created a 250-acre garden and bird sanctuary here. Stroll through azaleas and camellias, glimpse a deer in the garden and step onto a boardwalk for a view of resident alligators.
New Iberia to Arnaudville
As you make your way toward Arnaudville, stop in St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge. The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in St. Martinville recalls the chilling expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, as told by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “Evangeline.” In Breaux Bridge, visit Café des Amis, where the menu includes beignets, couche-couche (battered cornmeal cooked in a hot skillet and topped with milk or syrup), andouille or cheese grits, and crawfish étouffée – and that’s just for breakfast. About 10 minutes from here is Lafayette, considered the unofficial capital of Cajun country.
A trip along Bayou Teche is a good way to sample Louisiana hospitality, hear toe-tapping music and, as the locals say, “pass a good time.”