A holiday to New Orleans is hard to forget. Nestled in a bend of the mighty Mississippi and once home to pirates, voodoo priestesses and plantation owners, it’s a place that, quite literally at times, marches to the beat of its own drum. Wandering the streets of the French Quarter, with its pretty squares, flower-filled balconies and quiet courtyards, it’s easy to forget what country you’re in. Jump on one of the historic streetcars and head to the live oak framed mansions of the Garden District or stroll along the river and watch the big ships go by. Districts like the Bywater and Faubourg Marigny are fostering a new crop of restaurateurs, artists and, of course, musicians.
The birthplace of jazz, the music scene in Louisiana is as vibrant and eclectic as ever. From impromptu street performances, the sultry jazz clubs of New Orleans, to a Saturday morning Cajun jam session, you’ll never find yourself far from great music. Little excuse is needed to celebrate in these parts and, whether you stumble on a local festival or put your party shoes on for the legendary Mardi Gras, you can expect a few late nights.
Just north of New Orleans, the River Road runs along the Mississippi, protected by the ever present levees. Along its banks, many still surrounded by fields of sugarcane, sit a series of magnificent plantation houses that provide a fascinating insight into the South and the darker side of its history. South of New Orleans, the Mississippi empties into the Gulf but not before splintering into the watery hinterland of the Biloxi Marsh. Targeting big tailing redfish in this incredible environment is a must for any fly fishing enthusiast.
Many visitors on holiday to New Orleans never venture much further than the city itself but that would be a mistake. The area around Lafayette, the heartland of the French-speaking Cajun culture, is fascinating. Distinct from the Creoles, the Cajuns (or Acadians) were French Catholics exiled from Nova Scotia by the British. While pretty rural towns, old plantations, and the verdant landscape of rice fields, bayous and the maze-like Atchafalaya Basin are reason alone to visit, it’s the Cajun way of life that is so inviting. Treat your taste buds with spicy boudin, gumbo, and crawfish prepared every which way, and dance the night away to the accordion and fiddle heavy sounds of zydeco.
As the Cajun saying goes, “Laissez les bon temps rouler”!