The Maritime Traditions are Alive and Well in Madisonville, Louisiana.
Just to the west of Mandeville and along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain where the Tchefuncta River ends lies the little town of Madisonville, Louisiana. Much like its parish-mate of Abita Springs to the north, it is high on quality of living and deeply friendly.
First founded under the name Coquille (French for seashell of which the beach had an abundance) in the early 1800s, Madisonville was later incorporated and named in honor of President of the United States James Madison. Today, it has a population of under 1,000 residents, but small town life suits them just fine. These wonderful people are quite welcoming to guests, and waterfront condos provide you with the perfect spot for an extended vacation.
Replete with oak trees and exquisite coastal lands, the town almost appears to be frozen in time. In this heavily nostalgic setting, residents opt to lovingly restore old homes as opposed to tearing them down to be replaced with newer designs. They are also very in touch with their rich maritime roots by continuing the traditions of sailing, water sports, and fishing. For this reason, Madisonville has a fantastic marina with some of the finest examples of wooden boats still in existence.
Big Things To Do In Madisonville
– The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum is a tip of the hat to the area’s love of all things related to shipbuilding and boating. It offers displays, programs, and publications to educate the public about Louisiana’s rich maritime history. The Museum hosts the yearly Wooden Boat Festival and looks like a beautiful old yacht club.
– The town’s signature event is the yearly Wooden Boat Festival which lures lovers of these well-constructed craft from all over the Gulf Coast and other parts of the world. It is the one time they can all congregate on the Tchefuncta River and swap maritime stories replete with laughter and smiles. True aficionados of these incredible boats can exchange information with others on the best way to restore and maintain their floating pride.
– The 1838 Madisonville Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and worth photographing. Thanks to Hurricane Betsey in 1965, it is now only accessible to the public by boat. She took the peninsula leading to the lighthouse, but couldn’t take this shining beacon.
– No visit to Madisonville is complete without a meal at Friends Restaurant. Request one of tables overlooking the river and marinas at sunset, and you will have a real Louisiana dining experience. The food is primarily seafood, and specials change with the seasons. The staff is incredibly helpful, so feel at ease asking questions when you are not sure what you are about to order.
– Friends Restaurant is also a very short walk to the best snowball stand in town. For those unfamiliar with this frozen treat, it is a cup of finely shaved ice (that has the texture of snow) drenched in sweet syrups in a myriad of flavors. If you have never had one, you will certainly want to make their acquaintance here.
– Fairview Riverside State Park should also be on your list of things to do. RV and tent campsites are available by going online, and you will not be disappointed in the accommodations and facilities.
The main road through town is home to an eclectic mix of antique shops and boutiques, as well as being the center of business. But it is really the river and lake that Madisonville the inviting place it is. If you go to see the wooden boats once, you just might find yourself happily staying for years to come in Madisonville, Louisiana.