DescriptionThe iconic Louisiana staples of crawfish and Cajun music thrive in this small town about 55 miles west of Baton Rouge off I-10.
Crawfish once were not eaten publicly because they were considered low-class fare. The critters are said to have broken the social barrier and first appeared on a restaurant menu in Breaux Bridge, also where the now-popular crawfish étouffée was reputedly invented. Eventually the culinary stigma faded, the popularity of the crustacean rose and when the city celebrated its centennial in 1959 the state legislature passed a resolution naming Breaux Bridge la Capitale Mondiale de l’Écrevisse—the Crawfish Capital of the World.
Today crawfish are St. Martin Parish’s main aquacultural crop. Held since 1960, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has Parc Hardy teeming with Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop music from more than 30 bands. Cajun entertainment includes a parade, heritage activities, a crawfish étouffée cook-off, arts and crafts vendors, Cajun and zydeco dance contests, and carnival rides and games. The 3-day event is held the first full weekend in May. If you need a fix of Cajun and zydeco music and dancing throughout the rest of the year, you can find it in some of the local restaurants.
The city’s name was likely inspired by the footbridge Acadian pioneer Firmin Breaux constructed across Bayou Teche in 1799. The most recent bridge built in the area is the 1950 steel vertical lift bridge standing across from the visitor center. As you approach the bridge from either side you’ll see a panel at the top of the structure sporting the name of the city—one side in English and the other in French—along with a festive mural of a crawfish set against the backdrop of an American flag.
Women couldn’t vote until the early 20th century, but Scholastique Picou Breaux, daughter-in-law of Firmin Breaux and a 33-year-old Acadian widow, founded the town in 1829, created city plans and sold lots to other Acadian settlers. She is honored in Veterans Park, on Berard Street across from City Hall, with a bronze statue sculpted by Celia Guilbeau Soper, an artist with ancestors from Breaux Bridge. While Soper was researching Breaux’s family history, she found out her subject was her own great-great-grandmother. The discovery prompted her to use her daughter as the model for the sculpture. The park is also home to oak trees more than 200 years old.
At Parc des Ponts de Pont Breaux (Park of the Bridges of Breaux Bridge) you can read up on the legend of Bayou Teche. A marker chronicles the Chitimacha tribe’s legend of how the indentation from a snake (teche) that reached more than 100 miles from Morgan City to Port Barre formed the bayou. A 25-foot-long sculpture offers a visual depiction of the snake and marks the towns along the bayou. The park also includes the 1855 turntable bridge, which is now used as a fishing pier and a stage for special events. The black line on the flagpole next to the bridge is the water mark from a 1927 flood.
Visitor InfoBayou Teche Visitors Center 314 E. Bridge St. BREAUX BRIDGE, LA 70517. Phone:(337)332-8500
Self-guiding toursSelf-guiding tour brochures with information about the town’s historic buildings—mainly late 1800s to early 1900s—are available at the visitors center.
ShoppingThe downtown historic district features nearly 3 dozen specialty and antique shops, some of which are housed in historic buildings.
Things to SeeThe Atchafalaya Experience