Learn about Lafayette, Louisiana, by reading
Along the Bayou – Lafayette Louisiana by Sandy
Zimmerman, Travel Writer. It features a mini, but thorough
tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to
plan your trip including getting there, objective
information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At
the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the
contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy !
Along the Bayou - Lafayette,
by Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer
Lafayette, Louisiana is in the heart of Cajun
country! Learn how to be a Cajun for a day and enjoy Lafayette in
the most authentic way. Wake up to a Zydeco breakfast with live
music. Eat your way through Cajun country with a food tour.
In 1755, the British sent French-speaking Acadians
into exile. Forced to leave their homeland in Nova Scotia, Canada,
many of these settlers, now known as Cajuns, found a new home in
Louisiana. They joined the Native Americans as well as Creoles, the
descendants of African, West Indian and European pioneers.
Vermillion Ville village recreates buildings from the 1765-1890 time
All photos courtesy of Sandy Zimmerman
Vermillion Ville stands as a symbol of Louisiana
life, recreating the way it was between 1765-1890. Experience their
Cajun/ Creole heritage as you take the self-guided tour through six
restored original historic homes and 13 reproductions of period
buildings. Some of the buildings have interactive exhibits. Nestled
on the banks of the Bayou, visitors can take the boat tour to see
most of the 23-acre village. Cooking demonstrations allow visitors
to watch step-by-step instructions to prepare beignets, pain perdu,
gateau au sirop, and king cake. Visitors can take crafts classes to
make rag dolls, cornhusk bookmarks, handkerchief dolls, the Mardi
Gras capuchon hat and Mardi Gras wire screen mask. There are also
classes featuring the Cajun two-step, waltz, jig, and Zydeco for
One of Vermillion Ville’s highlights was the Cajun
Mardi Gras show! We walked into the world of the Cajuns, as a
costumed lady, the “Courier de Mardi Gras”, greeted us with gifts of
beaded necklaces. She was the symbol of Mardi Gras wearing the
traditional Cajun Mardi Gras outfit - a painted screen mask, tall
dunce-style hat and long, colorful gown. One Indian entertainer
Alton “Lil Tiger” Armstrong was wearing an elaborate costume that
Las Vegas shows would envy. Tiger danced around the stage even
though his costume weighed 50 pounds. He boasted of being able to
carry up to 75 pounds. It was a piece of art with 150 small
feathers, 6-dozen large feathers, jewels, and mirrors. Tiger takes
an entire year to work on his costumes.
A stuffed alligator guards the door at Prejean’s Restaurant.
Places To Eat
Step in the world of Cajun culture at
Restaurant! True to their motto “Simply Cajun! Simply delicious!”
Prejean’s has the look, sounds, and tastes of Cajun Country! Awarded
over 240 culinary medals and honors for their edible art, guests
know they will be enjoying authentic Cajun cuisine. A great way to
learn about Cajun cooking is to attend Prejean’s cooking school
featuring three traditional Cajun dishes: Crawfish etouffée, seafood
gumbo and Acadian-style bread pudding.
Big Al”, the large 14-foot long stuffed alligator
captured in Louisiana’s Grand Chenie swamp greets visitors to
Prejean’s! Live Cajun and Zydeco bands appear nightly with plenty of
room for dancing. The Cajun’s have their own version of the
two-step, waltz, and fox trot. Usually someone will be happy to show
you the steps.
The fiddle and triangle are traditional Cajun
instruments. The first Acadians who arrived in Louisiana did not
have any musical instruments. They learned to make their own
instruments from household items like spoons, washboards, and
clacking sticks for percussion. Originally specially designed
accordions were shipped from Germany, today accordion builders have
created their own small (6”x 11”), lightweight (8 pounds) musical
instruments. Cajun music was not written but handed down throughout
We tasted great down-home, stick-to-your ribs
Ema’s Restaurant. Although the owner, Ema Haq is from
Bangladesh, he has won awards for his Cajun meals!
La Cuisine de Maman (Mama’s Kitchen) is a
plantation-style restaurant inside Vermilion Ville. Choose either
the glass-enclosed patio or inside the dining room for an
all-you-can- eat buffet or traditional Louisiana lunch. You will
find Louisiana’s prices very reasonable.
Cajun Mardi Gras screen mask and costume.
Visitors are invited to join some of the Krewes
during the Mardi Gras festivities. The 18 different Krewes are the
backbone of Mardi Gras, the people who help organize the balls, ride
in the floats, arrange entertainment and all of the details for the
two month long events to succeed. Lafayette’s parade runs for five
miles and lasts around 3 hours. Some of their 20 Brazilian- themed
double deck floats are large enough to hold 30-40 people, with a
small space for each to keep the throws (beads, souvenirs, and other
trinkets), a porta-toilet, and a generator to power all of the
dazzling lights. You do not have to be a local to be a member of
these Krewes . . . all you need is the espirito! Membership in the
Krewe gives their full participation in the three main activities.
Krewe membership costs vary per couple in addition to buying
the throws and costumes. Just apply on the Krewe’s website or ask
the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau. This would truly be a
vacation to remember!
Lafayette is located 129 miles from New Orleans, 229
miles from Houston, and only 35 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico.
Places To Stay
Hampton Inn always offers complimentary
all-you-can-eat hot breakfast.
Contact the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau
to ask questions about Mardi Gras, swamp tours, festivals,
accommodations, sights, restaurants, settings for weddings, historic
downtown district, and entertainment. Lafayette offers special
facilities for banquets and conventions. Their phone number is
800-346-1958. Their web site is
Notice: This information is current as of
August 2007. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or
visit the web sites above to determine any changes to the