Quiet scene along Bayou Teche in St. Martinville
St. Martinville is located in extreme south Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun Country and Acadiana, and situated roughly between New Iberia and Lafayette. It is the parish seat of St. Martin Parish and has a population of about 5,000 residents.
It is located on the banks of the historic Bayou Teche The word "Teche" means snake in American Indian language. This beautiful bayou winds through the heart of St. Martinville.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 epic poem Evangeline made people around the world more aware of the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and their subsequent arrival in Louisiana.
Before Europeans and Africans settled along Bayou Teche in present-day St. Martinville, Native Americans had long hunted in this area, including the Attakapas and the Chitimacha.
Long before roads, Bayou Teche was a 100 mile long highway, and later was an important factor in the development of St. Martinville.
In the mid-1750s, Louisiana's French rulers made land available in the Attakapas District for the raising of cattle to supply meat for New Orleans. French became the predominant language, and it remains very strong in the region today.
St. Martinville is also the home to the Acadian Memorial which honors the 3,000 Acadian men, women and children who found refuge in Louisiana after British forces exiled them from Acadie.
Among the attractions is the stunning mural entitled "The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana" by Robert Dafford. The mural, measures 12 x 30 feet, and its figures represent actual documented Acadian refugees who arrived in Louisiana from about 1764 to 1788 and who settled in different parts of the state. Some models are direct descendants of the figures they portray.
Other facets of the Acadian Memorial include The Wall of Names, The Eternal Flame, The Deportation Cross, the Acadian Odyssey Quilt and much more.
The memorial is located 121 S New Market Street. Phone 337.394.2258
Read more at the website of the Acadian Memorial
|The "Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana" mural
Photo courtesy of the Acadian Memorial
A "must see" attraction in St. Martinville is the historic St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church, one of the oldest Catholic churches in America and the third oldest in Louisiana. It has been the center of religious and cultural activities of St. Martinville and the Attakapas Nation since colonial days.
The Catholic Faith was first brought to the area of south Louisiana which would be designated as the Attakapas Post by missionary Priests from Pointe Coupee who ministered to those who had settled along Bayou Teche. The first recorded rituals were on June 5, 1756 by Fr. Pierre Didier, OSB, a missionary Benedictine Priest from Pointe Coupée who also served the Post at Natchitoches. He first baptized Jean dit Ingui and Marie, two slaves of André Masse, an early settler and landowner from France, and then he witnessed their marriage. On that same day, he baptized several other slaves of André Masse: Margueritte, Magdelene, Victoire, Francoise, and Therese.
By 1765, the Parish was formally established when a group of Acadian exiles arrived in mid May of that year
Today, three historic buildings sit on the church square in the center of town:
In front of the church stands a statue of Fr. Ange Marie Jan, an early pastor who served from 1851-1887. In 1874, he added the transcepts to the church where the Grotto of Lourdes and the Sacred Heart Altar are located and extended the sancturary to its present size, giving the church its current cruciform shape.
A visit to the church and its grounds are highly recommended! It is located at 133 South Main Street in St. Martinville.
Read more at the website of the St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church
|Scenes from St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Photos courtesy of St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Another top attraction for visitors is the historic Evangeline Oak. Longfellow's poem "Evangeline" immortalized the tragedy of the Acadian exile from Nova Scotia in 1755. The giant oak marks the legendary meeting place of Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux, the counterparts of Evangeline and Gabriel.
It is located in Evangeline Oak Park, on Bayou Teche, at the end of Evangeline Boulevard.
|The Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site explores the cultural interplay among the diverse peoples along the famed Bayou Teche.
Acadian House Museum, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
Acadians and Creoles, Indians and Africans, Frenchmen and Spaniards, slaves and free people of color-all contributed to the historical tradition of cultural diversity in the Teche region.
A reproduction Acadian Farmstead is situated along the bank of Bayou Teche. The Farmstead is an example of how a typical single-family farm would have appeared around 1800.
The site includes the family home with an outdoor kitchen and bread oven, slave quarters and a barn. In the pasture located adjacent to the barn, there are cattle typical of those raised by the Creoles and Acadians at that time.
The Acadian House Museum is an old home that contains many priceless items of great antiquity. Like most residences of the period, the house was erected without nails. Its hand-hewn cypress timbers are fastened throughout with wooden pegs.
It is located at 1200 N. Main Street in St. Martinville. Phone 888.677.2900
For more information, visit the website of the St. Martin Parish Tourist Commission
One of the most popular things to do in Louisiana is touring the swamps! Most tours are concentrated in South Louisiana.
The lush growth in a Louisiana swamp is indescribable. You have to see it to believe it.
The most impressive objects in the swamp are the cypress trees which are very graceful in their structure, with their reddish bark, exquisitely bent branches, and delicately fine leaves.
Besides the trees and abundant fauna, there are a variety of alligators, turtles, snakes, birds and other wildlife.
The area area St. Martinville offers a number of swamp tours in a variety of boat types.
Learn more about Swamp Tours in the Atchafalaya Basin.
More St. Martinville Travel Information
More Scenes Around St. Martinville
Shown below are scenes from St. Martinville as seen in historic postcards from the Louisiana Destinations Collection.
U.S. Post Office
Posed by Dolores del Rio, the actress who played Evangeline in the motion picture. The statue marks the grave of Emmeline Labiche who tradition claims was the prototpe of Longfellow's heroine.
|Popular Travel Destinations and Tourist Attractions in South Louisiana|