Bayou Lafourche Travel
Bayou Lafourche is a 106 mile long waterway which stretches from Donaldsonville, at the Mississippi River, to the Gulf of Mexico. From Donaldsonville, it flows through Paincourtville, Napoleonville, Labadieville, Thibodaux, Raceland, Larose, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadow and finally into the Gulf near Leeville and Port Fouchon.
The name Lafourche is from the French word for "fork", and comes from the fact that the bayou historically carried a large amount of water from the Mississippi River.
The bayou once was a main distributary of the Mississippi River leading to the Gulf of Mexico. In the 1700s, French explorers may have traveled on this waterway as they staked claims in the coastal areas. Original inhabitants of the area include the Chawasha, Washa and Chitimacha tribes.
Acadians began arriving from Canada in the mid-18th century and established the fishing and trapping legacy that remains in this heavily Cajun-influenced area today.
Originally called the Chetimachas River, it flows through Ascension Parish, Assumption Parish and Lafourche Parish. Many of the early Cajuns settled along the bayou. On the west side of the bayou is Louisiana Highway 1, and on the east bank is LA 308.
The Bayou Today
Naturally a Mississippi River outlet, Bayou Lafourche was dammed at Donaldsonville in 1905.
The dam cut off nourishment and replenishment of a huge wetland area of south Louisiana, and the bayou was gradually transformed into a stagnant ditch.
Today, efforts are underway to resume part of the flow from the Mississippi River to bring life back to the bayou. On October 21, 2022, ground was broken on the $96 million pump station in Donaldsonville on Bayou LaFourche. The pump station is designed to protect the drinking water supply for Ascension, Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes, and to combat saltwater intrusion in the Lafourche and Terrebonne estuaries. The new pump station will have a minimum pumping capacity of 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and be constructed beside the existing 450 cfs pump station which will remain in service.
The bayou and is known as "the longest Main Street in the world." Today, approximately 300,000 Louisiana residents drink water drawn from the bayou.
Map of the Bayou Lafourche Area
This map was developed by and shared courtesy of the Friends of Bayou Lafourche. The mission of this organization is to raise the awareness of the importance of Bayou Lafourche and its revitalization, through education and informational outreach, and by the creation of recreation and beautification opportunities along the bayou.
Cities and Towns Along Bayou Lafourche
- Cut Off
- Golden Meadow
- Leeville, Port Fouchon and Grand Isle as the bayou flows into the Gulf of Mexico
Donaldsonville is located in south Louisiana at the juncture of the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche.
Situated on highway LA-1, Donaldsonville is about a one hour drive from either Baton Rouge or New Orleans.
The Sunshine Bridge provides access to the East Bank of the Mississippi River.
Donaldsonville is the parish seat of Ascension Parish, and has a population of about 6,700 residents.
Scenes Around Labadieville
Labadieville is located on Highway LA-1 on the banks of historic Bayou Lafourche. Our family roots are from Labadieville, and nearby Paincourtville, Napoleonville, Plattenville and Thibodeaux.
St. Philomena Catholic Church, Established 1847, Labadieville, Louisiana
My grandfather worked in the sugar cane fields along Bayou Lafourche, and my French and Acadian ancestors had original land grants in this area dating back to the late 1700s.
Labadieville is located in Assumption Parish along the banks of Bayou Lafourche, and the home to about 1,800 residents. Labadieville, originally called "Brulee Labadie", takes its name from a French pioneer and resident, Jean Louis LaBadie.
Labadieville Area Attractions
St. Philomena Catholic Church is a historic structure, with history dating back to the mid-1700s. Its cemetery is a sacred place, the resting place for generations of Acadians, French, and early Louisiana residents.
In 1843, a mission was established. St. Philomena Catholic church dates from 1848 as an organized parish and the first mass was said in the home of Widow Zacharie Boudreaux. The first building was occupied in 1847.
|St. Philomena Rectory
||St. Philomena Cemetery
|Cajun home along the bayou
||The site of our family land grant
|Massive live oak tree along Bayou Lafourche
Thibodaux is located in south Louisiana on Louisiana Highway LA-1 on the banks of historic Bayou Lafourche.
It is the parish seat of Lafourche Parish and has a population of about 16,000 residents. It was incorporated as a town in 1838.
Historic churches such as the St. Joseph Catholic Church and Co-Cathedral, and St. John's Episcopal Church are popular tourist destinations.
The Jean Lafitte Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, operated by the National Park Service, hosts special events and demonstrates the French and Acadian culture which remains strong in Thibodaux. The center shares the Acadian way of life through a film, special and permanent exhibits, musical performances, and boat tours of Bayou Lafourche. Admission to the center and to most programs is free; boat tours are by ticket and reservation.
The Edward Douglas White Historic Site is the home of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, born in Lafourche Parish in 1845. Many other area attractions are available, from historic home tours to swamp tours.
Canoes on Bayou Lafourche
Nicholls State University, located in Thibodaux, serves all of south central Louisiana through a variety of degree programs, and has an enrollment of over 7,000 students. Nicholls is the city's major employer, and a nationally accredited institution offering more than 85 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
The Louisiana Gumbo Festival of Chackbay is a popular annual event held in October.
Grand Isle lies at the southern terminus of Louisiana Highway 1, a distance of some 436 miles from the highway's origination point in Shreveport. With an official population of about 1,500 residents, Grand Isle swells to nearly 20,000 people during the summer months when camp owners and fishing rodeo attendees arrive.
The name of Grand Isle is derived the French Grande-Île, or "big island." Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, the economy is based on tourism, the seafood industry, and oilfield related operations.
Situated at the southernmost tip of Jefferson Parish, Grand Isle is a barrier island about 8 miles long and 1 mile wide, the only inhabited island on Louisiana’s Gulf coast. It is indeed a coastal community, bordered on the east by Barataria Pass, on the west by Caminada Pass, on the north by Barataria Bay, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico.
Grand Isle has a central ridge, elevated several feet above sea level, known as a "chenier", derived from the French for "oak ridge."
Off the waters of Grand Isle, fishermen can catch blue fin tuna, red snapper, redfish, flounder, yellow fin, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, barracuda, and many other species. Established in 1928, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is the oldest fishing tournament in the United States. The big event is held during the last weekend in July that includes the Sunday.
Grand Isle State Park
Grand Isle State Park, on the east end of the island, is operated by the Louisiana Office of State Parks.
It features 49 Premium Campsites, all of which are pull-through sites, all with water and electrical hookup; one is ADA compliant.
The park also features 10 Beach Tent Campsites. Canoes, paddle boats, and surf bikes can be rented onsite. The park includes a 2-1/2 mile nature trail.
Boat Tours in the Bayou Lafourche Area
One of the most popular things to do in Louisiana is touring the swamps and bayous!
The lush growth in a Louisiana swamp is indescribable. You have to see it to believe it.
The most impressive objects in the swamp are the cypress trees which are very graceful in their structure, with their reddish bark, exquisitely bent branches, and delicately fine leaves.
Swamp tours are available starting at a number of area communities such as Houma, Thibodaux, Gibson, Kraemer, Patterson, Napoleonville and Theriot. Canoe trips are also popular along Bayou Lafourche.
Learn more about Swamp Tours Near Houma, Morgan City & Thibodaux
Area Lodging and Restaurants
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