From New Iberia, I left Route 182 behind, but continued to follow Bayou Teche towards the next small Cajun town, St. Martinville. St. Martinville’s tidy downtown shows off its Acadian roots and hundreds of years of history, with a few buildings that line Route 31.
But the main sight to behold here is…
… St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. St. Martin dates back to 1836, making it the 4th oldest church in Louisiana. A large home for the priest stands next door.
Longfellow Evangeline State Park
Just north of downtown, St. Martinville celebrates its connection with the Acadian culture and Longfellow’s famous Evangeline poem, at a state park that preserves a typical Acadian estate. When I saw the entrance along the side of the road, I didn’t know anything about the park or the poem, but I decided to turn in and see what was there.
Since admission was just $2, I decided I didn’t have much to lose. So I caught up with a tour group that was just forming underneath the front porch.
As the guide took us through the house, she explained what it would be like to eat dinner around this table on a steamy Louisiana evening — made slightly more tolerable by a fan, operated through a system of pullies by a slave on the side of the room.
This is the former home of Charles DuClozel Olivier. His family acquired the property in the late 1700’s, and he inherited it in the early 1800’s. The home itself dates back to 1815, with renovations done around 1840.
The house was quite luxurious for its time, with a game room…
… and a grand bed upstairs. This style of bed was called a “rolling pin” bed because, the guide explained, the rolling pin on the headboard could be removed, and used to flatten out the lumps in the mattress.
The kitchen is separate from the house…
… and there’s also a separate guest house…
… with windows that double as doors…
… and a blacksmith shop.
Here’s a time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from New Iberia through St. Martinville to Breaux Bridge: