Feel like a local in St. Landry Parish, a rural-heritage destination located in central southwest Louisiana, with a rich history and a people who will find any excuse to celebrate life! With festivities that celebrate art, Cajun and zydeco music, crawfish étouffée, Mardi Gras, and sweet dough pies, you will certainly experience joie de vivre, Louisiana style. Annually, there are three cook-offs, more than a dozen festivals and cultural celebrations, six yard sales, numerous live music shows, and trail rides. The French heritage takes a front seat at major cultural events like La Semaine de la Francophonie and Cajun Country Courir de Mardi Gras.
St. Landry Parish’s rich culture and history derives from the diverse people who have called it home. Acadian, Creole, French, African, Spanish, Italian and Native American people have mixed and matched here for almost three centuries. History not only lives in museums and antique markets, but plantations, schools and churches that have stood for centuries. Those influences give St. Landry Parish its music, food, and culture, that few can match. Even its legislature recognizes the power of these attributes and has accordingly designated four capitals: Eunice – Prairie Cajun Capital; Opelousas – Zydeco Music Capital; Sunset – Rubboard Capital; Grand Coteau – Sweet Dough Pie Capital.
The evidence of our French heritage is everywhere you look in St. Landry Parish. From our visitor guide en français, signs, newspapers, and menus, to everyday phrases and our surnames, French culture and language are on full display here. Throughout the parish, it’s very common to still hear both Cajun and Creole French being spoken. Radio stations feature programs such as Bonjour Louisiane and Rendez-vous des Cajun that are broadcast en français.
Part of the effort to keep Louisiana French alive is evident thanks to NUNU Arts & Culture Collective, which is dedicated to creating a living French culture using a combination of art, music, dance, and the French language. NUNU, located in the town of Arnaudville, where one in four residents still speaks French at home, has recently been designated one of the first 12 “French Corners” in the United States. Offering French literature, a Table Française on the last Saturday of each month, and other activities en francąis, visitors and locals are always welcome.
La Table Française, which literally translates to “The French Table,” are gatherings held throughout the parish where locals share conversation, en français, over a cup of coffee. Tourists and non-French speakers are welcome to join in. On the last Wednesday of every month, a Table Francaise takes place at the Historic Heritage Park, Le Vieux Village, in Opelousas. Often, noted zydeco musician, Goldman Thibodeaux, drops in so you know music makes its way into the lessons.
Talk about a haven for food enthusiasts! St. Landry Parish is the “Prairie Home Cooking” loop of Louisiana Culinary Trails and home to internationally known, Chef Paul Prudhomme, Tony Chachere’s Creole Cajun Seasoning, and Bayou Teche Brewing, featuring its own brand of Craft Beers that complement the region’s local Cajun and Creole Cuisine. Local restaurants offer exclusive settings in historic landmarks and feature great Cajun and Creole food. And our many festivals celebrate our culinary treats like cracklins and étouffée!
St. Landry Parish is also known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Hiking, fishing, hunting, birding, camping, biking, paddling, and other outdoor opportunities are possible in two wildlife management areas that cover thousands of acres of both forests and swamp land. One of these wildlife management areas, Indian Bayou, contains some of the country’s most productive wildlife habitat and is a paradise for hunters, fishers, bird-watchers, boaters, nature photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the best ways to soak in the Cajun prairie, country roads, and scenic bayous, is on two wheels. Pick from routes that fit your experience level—10, 25, 50 or more miles. Schedule your day to include stops at attractions, historic sites, museums, live music and of course, fuel up with famous Cajun and creole cuisine at any local restaurant or diner.
If you prefer to explore by water, then grab a canoe, kayak, stand up paddle, or small boat and float down the Bayou Teche, part of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. What the Chitimacha Indians once claimed was a large poisonous snake is actually a 135-mile long bayou, perfect for paddling, birding, fishing, and host to several events and races.
Art is a precious resource in St. Landry Parish, and it is not just music, dance, and cuisine. Visual art is plentiful here, from murals honouring ancestors and music, to colourful, oversized fiddles created by area artists. In many of these public exhibits, artists and businesses joined forces to bring concepts to life, enriching the quality of life in local communities and highlighting a living cultural economy. In fact, many area artists sell their pieces in the local boutiques, galleries, and antique stores. Find fused glass, handmade jewellery, greeting cards, canvases, big or small, and so much more.
St. Landry Parish is proud to have six Cultural Districts: Arnaudville, Eunice, Grand Coteau, Opelousas, Sunset, and Washington. In these designations, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artwork are tax-free.
St. Landry Parish is synonymous with toe-tapping Cajun and zydeco music and is proud to be the hometown of Amédé Ardoin, Clifton Chenier, Rockin’ Sidney, Terrance Siemier, Geno Delafose, and many more legendary musicians. Cajun music is celebrated Saturdays in Eunice in a Grand Ole Opry-style broadcast from the historic Liberty Theater or at a jam session at Savoy’s Music Center, an accordion factory where admission is beer, boudin, or an ability to tap your feet. Thousands feast on zydeco annually, the Saturday before Labor Day, at the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival in Opelousas, or the first Saturday in July at the Lebeau Zydeco Festival. Along with its colourful surroundings and history, the parish is also recognized as a Certified Louisiana Retirement Community. Our warm and welcoming people are ready to make new residents feel right at home and may greet you with a friendly “Comment ca va?” or How are you? You can respond “toujours bon” because life is always good in St. Landry Parish!