Day 1, 2 & 3
New Orleans Arrival
Depart London Heathrow – 15:10
Arrive New Orleans – 19:10
Journey Time – 10 hours
Arrive in New Orleans, known as ‘The Big Easy’. We recommend you take one of the metered cabs from the airport to your Hotel (approximately $30) as you will be tired after your flight & a car is not required in this city. If you would like us to arrange for someone to meet you at the airport and provide a private transfer to your hotel, this can be done for an additional cost. Your hotel for the next 3 nights is perfectly located in the midst of the historic French Quatre, situated in the heart of New Orleans.
New Orleans the birthplace of jazz is an engaging amalgam of cultures and contradictions. Explore the French Quarter, where old brick and beautiful iron balconied buildings reflect both French and Spanish influence dating back to the 1700’s. Stroll along famed Bourbon Street and the other narrow streets of this walking historic district, visit the antique shops and jazz clubs and experience Cajun and Creole cooking at its best. Travel on the famed “Streetcar Named Desire”, walk through the historic Garden District or take a steamboat evening cruise on the Mississippi River.
We strongly recommend a city tour which takes a couple of hours to give you a good overview of New Orleans, its neighbourhoods and the exotic, interesting history & culture of this city and state.
Just as the French Quarter is perfectly situated in the heart of New Orleans, the Bienville House hotel where you stay for three nights is perfectly located in the midst of the historic French Quarter. You’ll feel like you are in a centuries-old French Quarter manor house, now an upscale boutique hotel. The lobby, reminiscent of a French Quarter parlor, is elegantly appointed with hand-painted murals and Old World furnishings and the flagstone courtyard surrounds a crystal blue pool. The location could not be better, sitting majestically at the foot of Royal Street it gives you the best point of departure for all things New Orleans. You need only step outside this French Quarter hotel to discover quaint restaurants & specialty shops which line the cobblestone French Quarter streets that lead to Jackson Square, the Old French Market and the River Walk where tourists and native New Orleanais stroll the levee and watch the steamboats and barges along the Mississippi River.
Overnight – New Orleans (3 nights)
Days 4 & 5
New Orleans to Lafayette
On the morning of Day 4 you will collect your car rental. Please ask us about the additional cost for the in-car satellite navigation that will guide you along your route.
Today drive to the heart of Cajun Country and the town of Lafayette, the route passes many antebellum mansions that have been painstakingly restored and filled with period furniture; nature lovers will want to set aside time to explore the grounds and lush flower gardens. For a step back in time enter the fascinating world of the Creoles at the historic Laura’s Plantation just 35 miles from New Orleans where on the banks of the Mississippi River, surrounded by sugarcane, you will find the difference that exemplifies Creole Louisiana. Not far from the plantation you will find the B & C Seafood and Cajun Market where you might want to try a chicken & sausage gumbo or a Cajun Sampler containing catfish, crawfish or alligator!
Lafayette is known as the capital of French Louisiana where 40% of the residents still speak Cajun French. We suggest you visit Vermilionville (closed on Mondays), a reconstructed historic village, representing Acadian and Creole life in the period 1765 to 1890. Learn more about the life of the early settlers, exploring restored homes while interacting with the costumed interpreters demonstrating traditional skills of the period. Another attraction is a visit to the home of world famous Tabasco Sauce on Avery Island, but your stay in Lafayette is all about your chance to experience Cajun hospitality in the form of an evening of dining and dancing. We can arrange for you to visit either Pre Jeans or Randols where you can taste local delicacies like Craw Fish and Catfish whilst you listen to the live Cajun band. After dinner you can join in or just watch the dancing as the Cajuns let their hair down!
Your two night stay in Lafayette will be at the Bois des Chenes B&B a beautiful home that survived the American Civil War and is now listed on the National Historic Register and rated as one of the top 100 B&B’s in America. A restored Acadian style home the Bois des Chenes is primarily of Louisiana French origin and comparable American pieces complement this unique architectural gem.
Overnight – Lafayette
Days 6 & 7
Lake Charles & the Creole Nature Trail
Because of its location in South West Louisiana Lake Charles has a strong Cajun culture and is recognized as the festival capital of the state, boasting over 75 fairs and festivals including Mardi Gras and the Cajun Music & Food Festival. You’ll have a warm Cajun welcome here and after a day of outdoor adventures the night will bring diverse attractions such as trendy nightspots, casinos and of course delicious Cajun culinary creations and restaurants.
During the day explore all or part of the 180-mile Creole Nature Trail, one of only 13 “All-American Road’s”, through a region known as Louisiana’s Outback, one of America’s “Last Great Wildernesses”. The trail is a journey through a wild and rugged terrain unique to Louisiana, America and the world, where alligators, birds, wildlife refuges, marshland, Gulf beaches, hunting, fishing and Cajun culture abound. Alligators are commonly seen and a myriad of birds along with colourful wildflowers will make this a day you’ll never forget.
Located in the heart of the Charpentier Historic District downtown, the charming C.A.’s House Bed and Breakfast (home for these two nights) is close to many popular attractions, world-class restaurants, museums, the boardwalk, and more. A three story, circa 1900 colonial, this grand house set in a peaceful environment is a favourite with many celebrities.
Overnight – Lake Charles
Lake Charles to Kisatchie National Forest to Natchitoches
This morning travel to Natchitoches via the Kisatchie National Forest where hidden in the bayous, beneath the bald cypress groves and old growth pine, is a world of natural beauty, wildlife and discovery.. The Longleaf Trail has been recognised as one of the most scenic drives in Louisiana providing numerous opportunities for viewing the wilderness. The terrain is exceptionally rugged, ranging from 120 to 400 feet in elevation. Vistas along the road include mesas, buttes and sandstone outcrops, back dropped by longleaf pines.
Located on the scenic Cane River, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Its strong French and Spanish roots are still visible in its preserved architecture and this quaint and romantic town is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Explore the antique shops and restaurants that line the old brick street in front of the Cane River Lake and view many older mansions that are nearby.
Overnight at the Steel Magnolia House, a lovely B & B built in the 1830’s along the beautiful Cane River. The house is rich in history and culture. From the unique architecture to its involvement in the Civil War, this home is truly a piece of Southern history. Primarily known for the on-site filming of the 1989 award-winning classic “Steel Magnolias,” here you can step back in time to a more elegant and leisurely atmosphere! Relax and enjoy rare antiques, peaceful gardens, large guest rooms, a grand staircase, private bathrooms, and a wonderful gourmet breakfast.
Overnight – Natchitoches
Natchitoches to Shreveport
The Red River is the heart and soul of Shreveport, a cultural and gaming centre on the Louisiana/Texas border. Riverboat casinos evoke the glamour and mystery of the past while providing modern travellers with thrills and excitement.
Tonight experience the charm of Victorian elegance at Twenty-Four-Thirty-Nine Fairfield, “a bed and breakfast,” situated in the historical district on a beautiful avenue of splendid mansions and fine homes built around the turn of the century. Landscaped English rose and herb garde
ns, a Victorian swing, gazebo and water fountain are nestled among the oak trees. The carved oak staircase invites you to explore the many collections of special interest, while the crystal chandeliers, the Victorian swag drapes of lace and moiré and period antiques remind you of a gentler era. River boat casinos are only minutes away and the Line Avenue shopping corridor of unique shops is just two blocks with many quaint restaurants to savour and enjoy.
Overnight – Shreveport
Shreveport to Cheyneyville
Travelling through the heart of Louisiana you may wish to stop at Alexandria located on the south bank of the Red River and geographically almost the exact centre of the state. The city was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War it is also home to the Kent Plantation, the oldest standing structure in central Louisiana.
Just a short distance from Alexandria is our night’s destination, Cheneyville and Loyd Hall our fascinating overnight lodging. Listed on the National Historic Register, Loyd Hall (circa 1820) is a glance into the old antebellum south. Set in the heart of a 640-acre working farm it is framed by stately oaks and surrounded by sugar cane and pasture land, Ghost stories are plentiful at Loyd Hall Plantation, many of them concerning inhabitants who lived here in Civil War days but today the plantation provides its visitors with a sense of inspiration and appreciation of the timeless charm that only the south can bring.
Overnight – Cheyneyville
Days 11 & 12
Cheyneyville to Baton Rouge
Travel via Opelousas known as the “Capital of Zydeco Music”, a fusion of old Creole tunes and rhythms with blues and soul that was born right here in Opelousas. It’s a city with a rich history dating back to the arrival of French and Creole settlers; Jim Bowie was a resident, and it was for a brief time state capital during the Civil War. The city is renowned for its spices and you may wish to stop and purchase some famous Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning before traveling on to Baton Rouge.
Settled by Europeans on Native American hunting grounds the name Baton Rouge means Red Stick in French and gets its name from the French settlers Bienville and Iberville who saw a reddish Native American tribal pole when they first arrived on the bluff of the Mississippi River where Southern University stands today. The city is proud of its Cajun and Creole heritage, with clubs famous for playing the blues, and streets full of restaurants serving up everything from spicy Bayou foods to Caribbean home cooking. It is the capital of Louisiana and from the 27th-floor observation deck of the new Capitol building, you can take in the beauty of this lovely city on the Mississippi, at one time the heart of plantation country. Stately antebellum mansions line the river and historic museums, plantations, artistic venues, outdoor adventures and bountiful eating experiences await you. The city’s unofficial motto is “Let the good times roll” (Laissez les bon temps rouler!), and roll they will as you dine on spicy Cajun food, sample a riverboat casino or gaze out at the mighty Mississippi. For a totally different experience try an Alligator Bayou Swamp tour to discover the natural beauty of the swamp, spotting alligators as well as cranes, egrets, and nutria as your boat twists and turns through the swamp.
Louisiana has a tax free shopping programme for international visitors and in Baton Rouge you will find the Mall of Louisiana with over 160 stores, it’s size like that of a small island!
Our two night stay is at the Stockade Bed and Breakfast, a surprising haven within the heart of the Capital City. Named after the Union stockade that occupied the site during the Civil War, the Stockade is located near LSU and downtown Baton Rouge on historic Highland Road. Here you will experience the finest in Southern bed and breakfast lodging in an elegant, comfortable home filled with beautiful antiques, fine art, and luxury accommodations. Not far from the Stockade is Louie’s Café, a Baton Rouge institution, open 24 hours a day, where you might want to try Seafood Louie an omelette filled with shrimp, crawfish, and vegetables topped with a herb crème sauce.
Overnight – Baton Rouge
Days 13 & 14
Baton Rouge to Plantation Country
On today’s journey through plantation country we suggest a visit to Nottoway Plantation which stands on the edge of sugar cane fields overlooking the Mississippi River. The largest antebellum mansion in the south it was completed in 1859 and reflects an unusual combination of Greek revival architecture blended with innovations that were the fanciful desires of the original owners. Its hour long tour is an excellent insight to the history of the plantations along the River Road and well worth the price of admission
During your stay in this area another fascinating excursion is a visit to Houmas House & Gardens a lavish plantation filled with period art and antiques and just 22 miles from your base at Oak Alley Plantation. Considered the “Crown Jewel” of the River Road plantations here you can enjoy 38 lush acres of gardens, ponds and a majestic live oak alley. Relax with a refreshing mint julep, enjoy the breeze off the Mississippi and navigate through the shadows of ancient oaks.
A fitting finale to your holiday is the two night stay at Oak Alley Plantation which is located on the Mississippi River between the historic Louisiana cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Oak Alley Plantation has been called the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road”. Nowhere else in the south will you find such a spectacular setting! The quarter-mile canopy of giant live oak trees, believed to be nearly 300 years old, forms an impressive avenue leading to the classic Greek-revival style antebellum home. The historic Creole cottages are located in the grounds of the plantation, not far from the antebellum mansion. They are simple and serene without the distractions of telephone or television to disturb the peace and quiet.
Overnight – Vacherie
Depart New Orleans
Its farewell to our Louisiana adventure as we head back to the airport, drop off the car and check in for our flight home.
Depart New Orleans – 21:15
Arrive London Heathrow – 11:55 (Next Day)
Journey Time – 8 hours 40 minutes