Welcome to Natchitoches, Louisiana
Established in 1714, Natchitoches (pronounced “Nack-a-tish”) is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and is a favorite destination for visitors from around the world. In January 2014, Natchitoches celebrated its 300th anniversary, making Natchitoches the oldest city in the state of Louisiana.
Located in Northwest Louisiana, Natchitoches is a one-of-a-kind community full of culture, history, recreation, shopping and more! At the heart of Natchitoches lies the Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District that serves as a shopping and dining paradise and a bed & breakfast lover’s dream.
Three Centuries of History
Natchitoches was founded by a French Canadian, Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis, in 1714 while he was en route to Mexico from Mobile, Alabama, on a trade mission. When he reached the village of the Natchitoches Indians on the Red River, he had two huts constructed within the village and left a small detachment there to guard the stores and trade with the inhabitants. This became the first permanent European settlement in the territory later known as the Louisiana Purchase. The site obtained for the replication of Fort St. Jean Baptiste is located on Cane River Lake (formerly the Red River) a few hundred yards from the original fort site and it is now open for tours.
Cane River Heritage Trail Scenic Byway
Stretched along the banks of the beautiful Cane River, Natchitoches is home to three state historic sites, Creole plantations and museums all within the boundaries of the Cane River National Heritage Area.
Cane River Creole National Historical Park consists of Oakland Plantation and the outbuildings at Magnolia Plantation. These plantations are two of the most intact Creole plantations in the United States. Both the plantations were established in the 1700s and were owned and operated by the same families for 200 years.
Today, the landscapes contain 65 historic structures surrounded by 200-year-old live oak trees. Visitors to both sites will experience the evolution of plantation culture. Oakland and Magnolia are not set up to showcase one time period or decade but rather the progression of a plantation from the 1780s to the 1960s. The many topics highlighted in park programs include Creole culture, slavery, agriculture, mechanization, religion and architecture.
A few miles down the trail you'll find Melrose Plantation. Discover the 200-year history of the beautiful Melrose Plantation. The birth of a slave, Marie-Therese Coin Coin, and her 10 Franco-African children with Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer became the legacy of the Isle of Brevelle Creole Community. Descendants of the Metoyer family live along the Cane River today.
Natchitoches is also well-known for the 1989 hit movie Steel Magnolias, the nationally-ranked Christmas Festival of Lights and the Natchitoches Meat Pie. It’s also home to the American Cemetery, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest History Museum and Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, the oldest general store in Louisiana.
Experience the charm of the original French colony in Louisiana!