Creole Plantation B&B
The day after Mardi Gras, Don and I continued our Louisiana celebration!
After a few days of parades in New Orleans, we found ourselves relaxing in a totally different Louisiana setting. Our B&B in Lafayette, was a peaceful oasis, in the heart of Cajun Country.
Home from 1820
We arrived late afternoon and found the 200 year old home, tucked into the Sterling Grove Historic District. The peaceful house and grounds, sat just one half mile from downtown.
I crossed fingers, as we pulled into a gravel lot. It looked awfully empty and quiet and I hoped there hadn't been a glitch with reservations.
200 Years of Stories
Don and I have never spent a night in a 200-year-old plantation. I was happy about having another first for the Notable Night list. But I felt a tiny bit anxious, as I allowed myself to wonder about some of the history and stories.
I knew the Moutons built the home in the early 1800's, but who were the people who labored to create this home? Who were the women who cleaned and cooked... the men who worked in the sugar plantations? As we approached the side of the house, I realized we probably would never know those stories.
Finding the Door
We parked and headed towards the walkway. I spotted moss growing on the roof of the carriage house. The grand oaks seemed to dwarf the house and other buildings.
We headed past the carriage house and followed the covered walkway.
The weather was a little chilly, but the brick patio with fireplace, looked inviting. There was a chiminea, loaded with wood and ready to be lit.
We headed towards the red-brown door in the rear of the old house. There was a sign saying "Check-in at 4". My watch said 4:01. Yay!
Our host Eric, met us at the door. He didn't have an Acadian accent like Charles Mouton, who built the house. But Eric had a wonderful French Canadian accent. He was from Quebec.
We entered the bright breakfast room, which was actually an addition. But it could have been added 100 years ago. I'm not sure.
I loved the feel of the area between the breakfast room and kitchen. There was a mysterious curving stairway, beside the white brick wall. I really loved the old pie safe, standing nearby. The gigantic bottle of Tabasco on top, reminded me that we were in Louisiana.
Erik checked us in and gave us a key. The key wasn't for our guest room, since there was no lock on that door. The key was for the exterior kitchen door, if we came in late.
Through the House
Eric led us through the downstairs, towards the front of the house.
The breakfast room opened into another eating area. Then we passed through an interesting, wide door.
That door led us into the parlor. Another set of blue doors took us to the front porch and garden.
We headed up a narrow set of stairs, to the second floor. The wooden steps were comically warped and worn. They didn't look a bit like the grand staircases from movies like Gone With the Wind, and I liked that.
The second floor had a set of doors leading to the balcony and another set of stairs heading to the third floor.
The second staircase looked like it had been added in later years. We took a peek upstairs at the cozy rooms, with slanted ceilings. Who once slept there?
The Voorhies Suite
Our room was one of two second floor guest rooms, on the front of the house. I believe our suite was named for the previous owners, a few years back. Mr. Voorhies was a descendant of the Mouton family.
I loved our tall skinny doors, even if there was no lock and we had to trust our fellow guests. The blue paint was soothing.
Chandelier and Fireplace
I haven't a clue who slept in our cozy rooms, 2 centuries ago. I loved imagining it.
Our front room had the fireplace, chandelier and balcony door. The middle room had a sweet four poster and closet, with coffee maker and fridge. The bathroom in the back had plumbing. Yay for that! Who knows when that was added.
Mr. & Mrs. Mouton
I liked imagining Charles Mouton and his new bride, enjoying this fireplace during the cold winter months.
For most of the year, I'm sure all the windows were open and the balcony got lots of use.
There was lots of sunshine coming through our 5 windows.
But the balcony was a little chilly, with wind and temps in the low 50s.
We had the whole balcony to ourselves, since no one had booked the other room. We should have taken a quilt from the rack in our room and enjoyed the view.
But we did take in the garden view for a bit. The trees were just beginning to flower and I spotted daffodils and some blooming azaleas in the yard.
We took a walk around the property and tried to imagine what it was like when Charles first built the house. It was a nice, reasonable size. I like to think that the Moutons weren't pretentious.
Trees and Land
The home was built on property, that had been part a 300-acre plantation, owned by Charles' father.
I wondered about the age of the grand live oaks. Were they there, 200 years ago?
When Eric checked us in, he let us know there was a social hour around 4:30. It had been so quiet at that time, we wondered what a social hour would be like, with the two of us and Eric. But, I was game. We could ask some questions about the house. Learn about the Moutons...
We headed down at 4:30 and Eric invited us to sit at the large wooden table. He put out some crackers and pate and asked if we'd like wine or the house special. We of course went for Mint Juleps. We sat at the table near a festive display of flowers and Mardi Gras beads.
When Eric went off to prepare our drinks, we introduced ourselves to Bobby, who sat at the end of the table.
Bobby apologized for his raspy voice. It was of course the day after Mardi Gras and he had spent the last few days performing and celebrating. He sang some Cajun tunes while he stomped and fiddled. And he shared stories with about growing up in Lafayette.
Before long, the table was full of guests. Some were staying in the other buildings. A family of 6 from Switzerland, was staying in rooms above us.
Eric greeted most of the guests in French. Bobby spoke Creole French, that he'd learned from his grandparents. As it turns out, Lafayette has become a travel destination for many French speaking tourists. We shared conversations with guests from Montreal, French Basque Country, Leon, Switzerland... and Atlanta. My photo fails to capture the warmth and fun of this group, all trying our best to communicate with one another!
Don and I headed to dinner and found downtown Lafayette a little quiet, on the night of Ash Wednesday. It was only about 9 when we returned, but all was quiet. The table was set for breakfast and the other breakfast room was set as well.
We tiptoed up the stairs and opened our room. No key. I think that might be a first for a hotel or B&B. But we felt totally fine. We had met so many nice people at the social hour. I felt like we were sharing a home, like family.And when the Swiss family returned a while later, we were again glad we had met our "neighbors". The old floors were squeaky. They seemed to be moving chairs around or unpacking and laughing and talking softly. Funny. It just felt homey and quaint. I went to sleep feeling like a mom, "Oh good the kids are home."
The whole gang (and a few more) showed up at the breakfast table at 8:30. We had been asked the night before if we wanted the American breakfast or a Creole.
Don and I chose both. He claimed his crawfish eggs with spicy Cajun sauce was excellent. Normally we would share, but Eric had encouraged us to spread out and our socializing distracted us from plate swapping. All in all, a great breakfast experience!
We were totally surprised with our stay! The website was a bit vague, so we weren't sure what we were in for.
The house and grounds were charming and the people (host and guests) made the stay memorable. What a treat to experience a culture so different than our own (in Texas) just a few hours away!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!