Cajun Country, New Orleans
The word Cajan comes from the word Arcadian. The Arcadians were French settlers in the Maritime Providences of Canada. They were thrown out (Le Grand Dérangement) of Canada by the British in 1775, and some of them came to French controlled Louisiana. The area around St. Martinsville and New Iberia is known as Cajan country.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from the shades; and before them
Lay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the Atchafalaya.
Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations
Made by the passing oars, and, resplendent in beauty, the lotus
Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.
Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms,
And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands,
Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses,
Near to whose shores they glided along, invited to slumber.
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On the banks of the Têche, are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom,
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.
Beautiful is the land, with its prairies and forests of fruit trees;
Under the feet a garden of flowers, and the bluest of heavens
Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana!
Longfellow's 1847 poem is a wholly fictional account of an expelled Acadian (Evangeline) struggling to reunite with her love (Gabriel).
As a result of the poem, many efforts have been made to link real characters with the fictional ones in Longfellow's poem. In 1929, Dolores Del Rio starred in a film as Evangeline and donated money toward the creation of an Evangeline statue in her own image. Finished in 1930, the statue was placed beside the St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church in St. Martinville, on a spot marking the alleged burial place of Emmeline Labiche, the "real" Evangeline.
The Cajun Village at Sorrento is about halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge & New Orleans. There is a small collection of restored Acadian buildings that have been brought here from various areas in Louisiana and have been set up a variety of speciality shops.
6482 Highway 22
Just 1 Block off of I-10 Exit #182 in Sorrento, Louisiana @ the corner of La. Hwys. 22 & 70
That's right my friends, you can drive further south (sort of southwest) than New Orleans. So, if you want to see what Cajun life is really like, head down to "Southern" Louisiana to towns like Houma and Thibodaux.
Cajun Country. This region fans out from its center in Lafayette to the Texas border in the west and the Mississippi River south of New Orleans in the east. Its bayous and swamps are havens for birds, alligators and other wildlife, as well as being the home of Cajun music, zydeco and swamp pop. Visitors can pick up the two-step at dance halls, block parties and festivals throughout the year, but the best time to come is during the spring crawfish season, to join in the tasty head-sucking and tail-squeezing rituals. New Orleans, while not part of Cajun Country, is home to scores of Cajuns who have migrated to the city to make a living from their world-famous cuisine, music and spirited bon temps.
Lafayette is a good destination itself and makes an easy base of operations for exploring the rest of the region. While some rural attractions might be hit-or-miss depending on the time of your visit (try to schedule your visit to coincide with a local festival), Lafayette offers a guaranteed good time throughout the year. The most picturesque of the outlying areas are along Bayou Teche (east and south of Lafayette), while the earthiest choices are Gibson in the wetlands and Mamou in the prairie. Lafayette is 130 miles (210km) west of New Orleans via I-10 (around 2.5 hours) or 165 miles (265km) and up to a full day's leisurely drive along Hwy 90. Buses and trains run between the cities frequently, and there are nice routes for bicycles if you're prepared for the frequent south Louisiana rain.