Natchitoches epitomizes the charm of the Old South. The compact downtown, built along the landscaped bank of the Cane River Lake, showcases the iron balconies and Creole style that is much loved in the Vieux Carre. The town was given its unusual name in 1714 for an Indian tribe. As the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, it boomed as a river port was established along the Red River. Plantations soon prospered nearby, and substantial homes and businesses were built in town. The Red River changed its course around 1840, and dams were built, thus isolating Natchitoches from the Mississippi River.
That isolation has helped retain the look and feel of the town’s rich past, influenced by French, Spanish and American cultures. Today, the entire town is a National Historic Landmark District where a rich variety of food styles flourishes, including local specialties like meat pies; in beguiling restaurants and inns; and in a stable population still well represented with descendants of the town’s early residents.
For more information, check with the local Chamber of Commerce.
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