Sitting in a ditch watching Matthew McConaughey film a scene for the HBO series True Detective is not the most glamorous side of the movie industry. Yet with McConaughey’s wardrobe crew on one side of me and his hair and makeup crew on the other, it did make the perfect, albeit gritty, spot to watch the unfolding scene. In fact, everything about True Detective, especially the locations, is gritty. Thank goodness as a country girl from the river parishes, I’m not afraid of a little (a lot) of dirt. And luckily for HBO, neither are the fans of True Detective.
It is the massive popularity of the show, especially in England, that brought three U.K. journalists and an HBO representative to Louisiana a year later. I traveled with them for nearly two days arranging stops that doubled as show locations in St. Charles, St. James and St. John parishes. Normally when I set up itineraries, I include the usual suspects of tourist attractions—plantations and swamp tours. For the majority of this trip, I would be going in an opposite direction.
This made me a little nervous.
Just think, these people are traveled thousands of miles to see what? An unassuming oak tree that served as a show murder scene? A snoball stand where the characters Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, portrayed by McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, argued about the meaning of life? A bungalow painted an unfortunate shade of green? This couldn’t be enough for them, right?
It was enough—I dare say it was more than enough.
British eyes were smiling as soon as we reached our first stop, Fisherman’s Wharf in Des Allemands. Fisherman’s Wharf was used as one of the workplaces and homes of Rust Cohle. “I can’t believe we’re at the place!” one journalist shouted as we pulled into the parking lot. “This is going to be my Instagram profile pic!” said another while taking a selfie in front of the bar. I even got lost in the moment staring into the glistening water of Bayou Gauche. Almost on cue, the bar’s owner told us stories about the scenes filmed on-site and showing McConaughey’s son, escorted by none other than Harrelson, his alligator farm. I felt like I was, well, in a movie.
From Fisherman’s Wharf we continued on to the rest of our journey describing our favorite True Detective scenes and quotes along the way. Through the Bonnet Carre Spillway to a couple of Norco bars, the True Detective trail was an eclectic mix of nature, industry and charming locals.
Finally realizing that no good sleuthing can come from empty stomachs, we broke hushpuppies together at Frenier Landing in LaPlace. Of course this group of skilled journalists couldn’t help but investigate the simple yet delicious hushpuppy. “It’s Louisiana,” I bragged. “We can make anything delicious!”
Stomachs full, it was now time to visit one of the most dramatic True Detective locations, the Dora Lange murder scene, an oak tree at Oak Alley Plantation. The tree, not publicly accessible, is in the middle of a sugar cane field. And thanks to the downpour we received the previous day, it was a muddy cane field. No worries for this group—being True Detective detectives, mud would not stop them from a site. It did this country girl proud seeing the group brave the mud as they posed by the tree.
After squeezing in a tour at Cajun Pride Swamp Tours, our True Detective adventure was coming to a wrap.
Seven stops on the True Detective tour:
- Fisherman’s Wharf, Des Allemands—workplace and home of Rust Cohle
- Todd’s Cream Shack, Norco—used as the Vietnamese restaurant
- Club 99, Norco—back of bar used as entrance of bar in True Detective
- Spillway Bar, Norco—interior of bar used in True Detective
- Sport’s Fishing Shop, Norco—Rust Cohle meets meth contact
- Round Tank, Norco—seen in opening credits
- Hasting’s Westside 66, Edgard—exterior used for True Detective
For more tour spots and their locations click here.