The History, Art & Literature of Natchitoches
Oldest Settlement in The Louisiana Purchase
Three days / two nights
Natchitoches, Louisiana, (pronounced Nak’-u-tush) is a veritable theme park of topics for lifelong students of learning:
NATCHITOCHES is an especially popular destination in December when the town is decorated with Christmas lights along the Cane River. These colorful static displays reflect in the water, creating an eye-catching panorama along the bank. At certain times, historic private homes are open to reveal their holiday finery.
- History – Natchitoches is where French explorers established the first settlement in their new colony, where planters established some of the earliest grand plantations in Louisiana, where soldiers, traders and farmers solidified the area for France.
- Literature – From the Artists Colony at Melrose Plantation, which included such names as Lyle Saxon and Faulkner, to the world of KATE CHOPIN, the important female writer of the 19th century, whose Awakening remains one of the first great feminine novels in America, to the stage play/movie Steel Magnolias.
- Art – Clementine Hunter grew up the daughter of slaves at Melrose Plantation and never traveled more than ten miles away during her 100 years. Yet her Louisiana primitive paintings of rural plantation life are worth fortunes now.
- Architecture – The plantations strung along the Cane River are significant examples of the raised cottage style of plantation dwellings, and the buildings in town offer picturesque examples of wrought iron balconies and urban Creole homes. “This looks like New Orleans.” No, New Orleans looks like Natchitoches, which is older and was settled before New Orleans!
- Cuisine – The meat pies of Natchitoches are mouth watering delicacies of local invention, and the Creole seafood and Southern dishes are marvelous to enjoy.
You will learn about all these and more when this Heritage Tours trip escorts you to see:
- Melrose Plantation – One of the most important plantation homes in the South because of its literary heritage, its architecture, the art of its resident Clementine Hunter and its own unusual social history – Melrose was built and grown into an agricultural and social empire by freed blacks!
- Fort St. Jean Baptiste – The outpost erected by the French explorer St. Denis.
- The Kate Chopin House – The home where the writer lived and observed the lifestyles she later dissected in her novels.
- The Natchitoches Courthouse Museum – Houses a display on the life and artwork of Clementine Hunter.
- Oakland Plantation – A National Park Service site where you will learn first hand about rural plantation life and work in the early 1800s.
- The Town of Natchitoches – A charming historic time piece so authentic it has been used as a movie set. The entire downtown area is a National Historic Landmark, one of only two such towns in the country to warrant such distinction.
Your presenters on this field trip will be:
- The Curator of Melrose Plantation
- The Curator of The Kate Chopin House
- The Curator of the Natchitoches Courthouse Museum
- The Head Ranger of Fort St. John Baptiste
- The Head Ranger of Oakland Plantation
- The leading historian of Natchitoches
…all speaking with you in private settings.
The tour package price includes:
- All of the above tours and sites
- Two nights accommodations
- Two breakfasts
- Two lunches
- Background materials with suggested readings and keepsake notes