LaPlace Louisiana is located between the southwest edge of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, about 25 miles west of New Orleans. One of the main attractions in LaPlace (which bills itself as the Andouille Capital of the World”) is the spicy sausage that played such an important role in the region’s cuisine history. The sausage was brought to the region by colonists from France. The Cajun people who settled in the swamps and bayous of the Mississippi Delta in the mid-eighteenth century came from Acadia in Nova Scotia, and were originally from the coastal regions of Brittany and Normandy. They spiced the French sausage up, and today it is a vital ingredient in signature dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and etoufee served with shellfish or chicken.
One of the best things to do in LaPlace is to enjoy dining on one of these dishes. While you can get andouille sausage just about anywhere in the United States, it just tastes more authentic at the source. One of the special events in LaPlace Louisiana is the huge Andouille Festival held here each October. It is held over three days in the middle of month, and features delicious Cajun food, a hotly contested andouille cooking competition, and great zydeco and Cajun music.
Attractions in LaPlace include some of the most historic ante bellum plantations in the Gulf Coast region. From the early 1800s through the 1850s, dozens of these riverside mansions were built along a 70-mile stretch called the Great River Road that ran along on both sides of the Mississippi, and served as gracious, elegant homes for the owners of vast sugar plantations. Only a few remain, and things to do in LaPlace include tours of some of the best. You can book these with local operators, and there are several operators who offer them as day excursions and part of New Orleans vacation packages.
One of the most beautifully restored is the San Francisco Plantation, built in 1856 and located about fifteen miles west of town (about halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge). Just across the river is Evergreen Plantation, a lovely Greek revival mansion that is part of a still working sugar plantation. Here you can tour both the mansion and the former slave quarters. Also on the opposite side of the river is Oak Alley Plantation, one of the most beautiful and famous of the Old South plantations in the United States. If you like bed and breakfasts, you can actually stay here is charming little nineteenth-century cottages. The cottages sleep from eight to ten people and have fully equipped kitchens. A hearty country breakfast is included in the overnight rate.
Other things to do in LaPlace include fascinating tours of beautiful Manchac Swamp, looking for alligators, visiting an old trapper’s cabin, soaking up the otherworldly misty atmosphere, and learning about the early Cajun settlers. If lucky, you may see beavers, bald eagles, and possibly black bears. These tours are in small boats and take about two hours. You can combine a swamp tour with a visit to one or more plantations.
Another one of the attractions in LaPlace is the mighty river itself, and it’s also possible to book New Orleans river cruises that come this far for both plantation and swamp tours. Many of these cruise tours are aboard authentic paddlewheel steamboats, and often will combine some nightlife and live music with a dinner or luncheon cruise.
LaPlace Louisiana is also home to one of the best 18-hole golf courses in the New Orleans area, the Riverlands Country Club. About five miles north of town is Lake Maurepas, a large brackish lake connected by a channel to Lake Pontchartrain. This lake offers good boating, excellent fishing, and picnic spots. There are also camp sites around the lake.