Maritime Traditions Alive In Madisonville LA
Just to the west of Mandeville and along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain where the Tchefuncta River ends, lies the little town of Madisonville LA. 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.
Complete 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.
Abita Roasting Company
Visit the Abita Roasting Company and have a great tasting cup of coffee while enjoying the view of the Tchefuncta River. This is a full scale roaster with a working antique roasting machine on display. There are a variety of different roast of coffee beans that can be purchased in 1 lb bags.
Things To Do In Madisonville Louisiana
Maritime Museum and Research Center
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center 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.
Wooden Boat Fest
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.
Orlando’s Seafood Restaurant And Louisiana Snowballs
No visit to Madisonville is complete without a meal at Orlando’s Seafood Restaurant. 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.
Orlando’s Seafood Restaurant on the west side of town is just a block from 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. My favorite is the chocolate snowball covered with condensed cream. They have a large list of flavors so there is one for everyone.
State Park On The Tchefuncte River
Fairview Riverside State Park on the Tchefuncte River 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 cypress tree covered in Spanish moss to the left is just one of many trees that line the shore of this State Park. They usually provide a good fishing spot to catch a variety of fish.
The main road through town Hwy 22 is home to an eclectic mix of seafood restaurants, antique shops and boutiques, as well as being the center of business. You can get to Lake Pontchartrain if you head south on Main Street at hwy 22. This road passes the Maritime Museum and then makes a turn that brings you along side of the river. For the next half mile you are in part of the Louisiana swamps known as the rice fields because at one time that was what this area was, one big rice farm. The TV show with Bruce of Swamp People was filmed a little west of this area. So if you want to see what the Louisiana Swamp looks like up close then take this ride to the mouth of the Tchefuncte where it meets with the lake. There is a boat launch, two fishing piers and 4 pavilions and a bathroom (port-a-let). This is a great place to view the black thunder storm clouds and stormy weather that rolls in from the south.
The Tchefuncte River, Lake Pontchartrain and Wooden Boat Fest makes Madisonville LA the inviting place it is.