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Published: January 3rd 2010
Each New Year’s Eve we try to do something special. Dawn had recently been to Natchitoches, Louisiana (pronounced Nakatish) on a business trip and raved about how beautiful it was. It was the site of the film “Steel Magnolias”. If you saw that film you saw a good amount of the local scenery. The Cane River runs through the middle of the town. There is a nice little park along the shoreline. Shops and restaurants line Front Street which runs along the river and is the centerpiece for tourism and events.
The main attraction at Christmastime is the “Festival of Lights” The river along the downtown area is lined on both sides with an incredible display of Christmas lights. Front Street also has strings of lights above the street criss-crossing it through the downtown area.
The city is the oldest in the Louisiana Purchase and one of the oldest in the country having been settled in 1714. It is home to Northwestern State University which has a beautiful campus near downtown. The city has a population near 18,000. There are many plantations and cultural sites to visit nearby. The city was named for a Native American tribe and is
the sister city of Nacogdoches, Texas. On a sad note it is also the site of the death of singer-songwriter Jim Croce in a 1973 plane crash.
Dawn had gone online and arranged a two night stay for us at “The Blessed House”, a bed-and-breakfast right across the street from “The Steel Magnolia House” and actually housed some of the cast during the making of the movie. The city has dozens of bed and breakfasts ranging from cute to elegant. The Blessed House has just two rooms available, the Master Suite, which we rented, and The Loft.
The Blessed House dates back to 1836 but went through a major restoration several years ago which raised the existing two story home high enough to build another ground floor underneath it and is in the National Register of Historic Places. The hand-hewn cypress logs of the original structure are now clearly visible as the ceiling of the first floor. While attractive this does create the drawback of allowing sound to easily travel from the first floor up into the bedroom on the second floor.
Owners Cindy and Wayne Verdun will make you fell right at home. They also live
in the house. Fresh pastries and breakfast food are cooked up every day and placed in the refrigerator in your room for you to serve yourself at your leisure. There are dozens of DVD’s to pick from and watch in your room if that’s your interest. The back yard has a nice little sitting area although the weather was a bit cold and damp during our stay so we didn’t take advantage of that.
The Master Suite is very large and has a correspondingly large bathroom complete with a double-sized Jacuzzi tub. There is also a small table with two chairs in the room. The house is decorated tastefully throughout with antiques to blend with the history of the house. Bible quotes can be seen almost everywhere you look and are an important part of the recent history of the house which includes an amazing story about the owners daughter battle with a serious illness.
It took us four and a half hours to drive there from Spring, Texas taking highways 59, 84, and then finally 49. The scenery along highway 49 is that of a lush pine forest covering gently rolling hills and makes for a pleasant
When we arrived it was dinner time so we went to dinner at Mama’s Oyster House on Front Street. It is good and moderately priced and has a nice neighborly atmosphere. I was brave and tried alligator for the first time. It was blackened and tasty but a little tougher than most meat. Dawn had the shrimp Po-Boy and said it was very good. Afterwards we went back to the house and watched “Swing Blade”.
The next day we strolled along Front Street and stepped into a couple of the shops to browse. We had lunch at Antoon’s which is right on the river. Since the weather was cold and damp we ate inside but they have a nice large deck with a great view of the river in back which must be very pleasant in nicer weather. The food there was exceptional for the low price. Dawn had a croissant club sandwich and I had a baked potato stuffed with artichokes and bacon and covered with a rich creamy sauce. We were very pleased with the food, the prices, and the down-home atmosphere.
After lunch we drove around on the other side of the river
to discover more beautiful plantation style and Victorian style homes. Another way in which the city creates some beautiful visuals is the way the many majestic oak trees lines the streets and frame the homes.
With the weather the way it was we didn’t feel much like being outside so we went back to the house and watched “Legends of the Fall”. We wanted to go to a movie at night at the local theater but they were closed being it was New Year’s Eve so we just watched another movie at the house that night. This time we watched “Steel Magnolias”. It was just a little extra special watching a movie that was filmed in the very neighborhood we were staying in.
Once settled in our room for the night there was just no way we were going to venture out into the cold to watch the fireworks bring in the New Year at the river. We could hear them just fine from the bedroom and we had a good view of the fireworks from other places around the country on the television.
Each morning we enjoyed the food left for us. We also enjoyed the
snacks left in a basket on the table in the room. Our third and final day in Natchitoches was sunny and this gave us an opportunity to get some better pictures before we left. Even though we spent most of our time in our room during our stay we thoroughly enjoyed just reading, watching movies, snacking, and just generally lollygagging around.
That wouldn’t have been possible without such a cozy, beautiful room to stay in. We thoroughly enjoyed the house and town and would highly recommend it to others. The only negative for us was the weather.
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