Beau Jardin…An Oasis in Historic Natchitoches

It had been several years since I visited the riverbank area behind the Roque House.  What I remembered as a grassy hill that housed a gargantuan metal swing set and not much else has been absolutely transformed into a breathtaking garden area stretching from the banks of Cane River right up to Front Street!  It is difficult to say which was more delightful—the spring flowers blooming in profusion on every side, a small stream gurgling its way under a wrought iron footbridge, the waterfall cascading over mammoth rock formations, or the brick staircase that gracefully winds its way upward.  Apparently Beau Jardin was constructed as a wedding venue, but I found it to be a perfect “get-away” spot for reading, contemplating, strolling along the riverbank, or capturing the perfect photographic moment!  Definitely worth checking out…

The Roque House…Historic Natchitoches

In the 1920′s New Orleans author, William Spratling, wrote the following description of the Roque House and its owner, Philamene Roque: “Madame Aubert (Roque) lived rather humbly in a small house of mud and half-timber which was built in the 18th century by some of her French forebears. All her life she had lived here on the Isle Brevelle. In front a bit of provincial France, an old fashioned garden, variously colorful, lay within the confines of a lichen-covered and battered fence of split palings. Madam Aubert, throwing open the blue-green shutter of the front of the house, hastened down to meet us.”  (Source: http://www.natchitoches.net/attractions/historic-district/roque-house/)

Moved twenty-two miles north to its present location on the banks of Cane River Lake  in 1967, the Roque House has been fully restored by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation.  Built as a personal residence around 1803 by a freed slave named Yves (called Pacale), it has served as a museum, a store, and the Headquarters for the Cane River National Heritage Area Commission.  It is an exceptionally fine example of French Creole architecture with its post in the ground design, hipped roof, encircling gallery, and central chimney.  Constructed of cypress timbers and bousillage (a mixture of mud, Spanish moss, and deer hair), the house is jointed (built without nails) and has a cedar shingle roof.  The left-side bedroom and double fireplace were damaged in transit during the move, but  some of the original bricks remain in the fireplace.

The Roque House holds court on the riverbank at the end of Front Street below the Visitor Information Center.  When you visit downtown Natchitoches, make plans to relax on a wrought iron bench in the shade of the grand oak trees.  Allow enough time to properly bask in the beauty of the gardens and enjoy the gentle lapping of the river against the shoreline.  It is a little piece of heaven…

See my Visiting Natchitoches, Louisiana page under the Travel Tips and Talk link on the homepage menu.