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Lafayette, located in the heart of Cajun country, was re-named in 1844 in honour of the hero of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette. Today this quiet town offers some lively Cajun history and is an excellent base for exploring the swamps and bayous of the surrounding area.

The centre of town is home to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, the Lafayette Museum, the Natural History Museum and Planetarium and the 500-year-old Cathedral Oak, whose magnificent branches stretch over 200 feet.

Outside town Vermilionville, the Acadian Cultural Centre, and the Acadian Village portray the history and culture of the Acadian (Cajun) people who were displaced by the British from their homes in Nova Scotia and settled in what was then the French colony of Louisiana.

Martin Lake, LafayetteA highlight of a visit here are the many Cajun festivals, including Mardi Gras, and crawfish and Zydeco music festivals, whilst infectious Cajun music can be heard at venues throughout the region. Food also plays a vital part in Cajun culture with seafood, rich tomatoey sauces, spicy sausages and gumbo featuring prominently on local menus.

Nearby Lake Martin Nature Reserve is a place where land turns to water and where, in the spring, there's a huge abundance of birdlife including egrets, herons and spoonbills, as well as scores of alligators. For a real taste of the local landscape though, take a thrilling swamp tour to see sunbathing alligators relaxing among cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss.

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