Once known as the Attakapas Parish, after the indigenous people who called this place home, St. Martin Parish was founded in 1811, a half-century after Acadian exiles, originally from Nova Scotia, began settling the region.
Located on the Bayou Teche, St. Martinville, the parish seat and one of Louisiana’s oldest towns, is generally considered the birthplace of Cajun culture. Founded in 1765 by exiled French-Canadians, St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church dominates the downtown square. Nearby stands the Museum of the Acadian Memorial, home of the Wall of Names of 3,000 Acadian refugees; the African American Museum; and the Evangeline Oak, once one of the most photographed trees in the world.
Just up the Bayou Teche, in Breaux Bridge, the “Crawfish Capital of the World,” locals and tourists fill downtown’s antique stores, Cajun restaurants, and dance floors.
Situated on the Atchafalaya Basin levee, the town of Henderson offers freshwater fishing (bass and sac-au-lait reign supreme) and plenty of Cajun cooking.
Located close to Breaux Bridge, Lake Martin is one of the area’s best nature stops. Walk along the boardwalk or rent a kayak and paddle around this wildlife preserve, waterfowl rookery, and cypress-and alligator-filled swamp.