In late April, we took a break here on the blog from touring the plantations between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but let’s go back there for the next several posts. Some of these plantations actually provide lodging and breakfast for guests. Imagine a Bed and Breakfast where iconic movies have been filmed (“Interview with the Vampire” starring Brad Pitt to name a recent one) and magazine covers photographed. Ahhhh. And by staying overnight, you can roam the grounds after the tour groups leave in the afternoons and before they arrive again the next morning, clicking away with your camera and basking in the ambiance of times gone by.
When you just say the word “plantation,” the front of Oak Alley is most likely to come to your mind. In person, it is every bit as beautiful as it is in pictures. It has been called “the most breath-taking sight in SE Louisiana,” and I would have a hard time arguing with that description. The alley of moss-draped, live oak trees was planted in 1722, long before the house was built. The French believed such an alley would form a funnel of air from the Mississippi River. Now, almost 300 years later, these live oaks are still expected to remain for ANOTHER 300 years.
There are both old and new cottages on the grounds where guests can stay. Steve and I were assigned the Doctor’s Cottage which was built in 1905. After a long day of sightseeing, photographing and note-taking, it was a wonderful place for us to unwind and just “be” for a few hours.
The furnishings and amenities were very modern and comfortable. Earlier in the day we ordered dinner to be delivered, and it was waiting in the refrigerator for us to take it out, microwave it and enjoy it leisurely. Like room service, only better. Great Louisiana specialties like chicken/andouille gumbo and bread pudding. We couldn’t seem to get enough bread pudding. We ate it every chance we got.
We took our time strolling the historic grounds and watching the ships and barges cruise down the Mississippi. There’s just something about those massive live oak trees that add such grandeur to the property.
After a restful night, we found the old carriage house where a delicious breakfast was served.
We wandered through the slave cabins that were set up to provide stories of life for the slaves, and then ended our time with a tour of the big house and a few minutes in the gift shop. Our costumed guide Bob did a masterful job of recounting the story of Jacques and Celina Roman and their days living in the mansion and on the grounds of Oak Alley. If you are in Plantation Country in the future, I highly recommend that you choose at least one of them for an overnight stay. It will literally transport you to the 1800’s — without the chamber pots and lack of indoor plumbing.
P.S. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to the employees in the Oak Alley Gift Shop. Steve and I found them to be so friendly and helpful, truly seeming to enjoy their job. When I asked one lady what she enjoyed about working at Oak Alley, she said, “I can stay in one place and all cultures come HERE. Some say ‘prah-leens,’ others say ‘pray-leens.’ Some say ‘PEE cans,’ others say ‘puh-CAHNS,’ plus all the different languages!” I asked if she had any non-alcoholic suggestions for making the famous whiskey sauce to pour over bread pudding, and she went straight to the computer to try to look it up. I like it when people go the extra mile, don’t you?
I wrote an article for Trip101.com that includes more pictures and details. You can find it here.