St. Martinville a center of Louisiana's Acadian culture
St. Martinville, Louisiana is a bilingual gumbo of friendly people with a strong pride and an unusual history. It is one of Louisiana’s oldest cities.
First called Poste des Attakapas, this settlement was inhabited by Attakapas Indians before French explorers arrived in the 1730’s. Church records in 1756 show the existence of slaves brought from Senegal. The era of Spanish possession of Louisiana brought Spanish, French Acadian exiles, French fleeing the Revolution in their homeland and Caribbean natives fleeing slave revolts.
A statue of an Attakapas brave graces the Church Square. The famous Evangeline Oak, Cultural Heritage Center, Acadian Memorial, Petit Paris Museum and Duchamp Opera House & Mercantile form a network of attractions around the Church Square and Evangeline Oak Park. The downtown area and six buildings are on the National Historic Register. Henry Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline” still draws visitors to the Evangeline Oak and statue.
Take a day to visit this quaint and cultural crown jewel of Louisiana. Enjoy coffee on the Bayou Teche boardwalk, or have breakfast in the historic district cafés. Visit St. Martin de Tours; step back in time for early morning mass in the 1765 historic church. Visit the statue of Evangeline and Petit Paris Museum, an homage to the legend of Pine/Oak Alley wedding and Mardi Gras Costumes Exhibit. Take lunch in historic downtown with lovely views and courtyards. Later, visit the much-photographed Evangeline Oak, stop at the Tourist Information Center in the Cultural Heritage Center and tour the museums of African Americans and Acadians to learn of the history, culture and people who helped shape St. Martinville.
Next, tour the Acadian Memorial, a monument to Louisiana’s Acadian legacy. Souvenirs and artworks are found at Duchamp Opera House & Mercantile, Main Street. Have a Cajun or Creole dinner at local restaurants housed in historic buildings where you can enjoy music, dance a two-step, then slumber in a quaint historic B&B.