A Room With a View

New Years At Oak Alley Plantation

Traces of many old plantations lie along the Mississippi River in Southern Louisiana. Oak Alley is one of the most complete, most visited and most photographed. It sits about fifty miles west of New Orleans in the town of Vacherie. The mansion/manor house, and the slave quarters are open to visitors. In spring, azaleas bloom and are a riot of rich color. Fields of sugar cane flank the estate.

The plantation’s name stems from a quarter-mile long colonnade of very old, majestic oak trees that line the path from the road along the Mississippi to the front door of the manor. These looming oaks add to the mysterious character of home and grounds.

The grounds include gardens, other buildings of historic interest, a restaurant, which specializes in Cajun and Creole cuisine, a well stocked gift shop with an ice cream bar, and a banquet hall which, when not in use, becomes a tavern for specialty drinks, cocktails, wine and beer. The grounds are an excellent venue for weddings or anniversary celebrations.

The Roman family owned the property and built the manor house between 1837-1839. The alley of trees is believed to be a century older. The manor’s exterior is the Greek revival architectural style popular in the early 19th Century. The interior includes furnishings from the Roman’s home in New Orleans, and 19th Century items from similar plantation homes.

We spent New Year’s weekend in Cottage 4 with a lot of rustic period style furniture with some modern touches. Cottage 4 is spacious with a comfortable bed. Huge breakfasts are included in the price. Renting a cottage also comes with full access to the grounds, before, during and after the hours of operation. Not included is the guided tour of the Manor House, which must be booked separately.

All of the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The restaurant closes at 3:00 pm during the holidays. Of the handful of nearby restaurants, few were open during this period for dinner.  In the evening we made the half-hour drive to Thibodaux or just enjoyed cooking inside the cottage. We also had the option of ordering food to be delivered to our fridge at 3:00 pm to eat later. We loved the screened in porches, the peace and all of the birds that congregate outside the cottage. It is a delight to stroll the grounds with a mint julip.

Oak Alley provided us a most pleasant holiday weekend. The best part of our stay was waking up on New Year’s Day and walking the usually busy grounds in total privacy.

This historic home is a National Historic Landmark and a Louisiana Icon.