True Detective arrived on our screens earlier this year and we’ve been hooked ever since. Not only does the HBO crime thriller series feature a killer cast, including Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and Hollywood favourite Woody Harrelson, but it’s also managed to single-handedly put Louisiana back on the map. With season one filmed exclusively along the southern coastal stretch of the state, fans can now visit the Louisiana landscapes where pivotal scenes and dramatic sequences were shot. If you fancy uncovering the other side of New Orleans where Detective Rust Cohle and Marty Hart hang out, then take a look at our True Detective guide to Louisiana.
The True Detective series began with the discovery of murdered Dora Lange’s body in Erath. In real life the small town is a peaceful haven nestled in the heartland of Cajun country. Made up of only 2000 residents, it’s worth stopping off at the Acadian Museum, which houses plenty of artefacts and images from the town’s early settlers and showcases the fascinating history of the local Cajun people of Louisiana.
Eunice is the location where the detectives find the mysterious burnt out church of the evangelist Joel Theriot whilst on the hunt for a killer. But a trip to Eunice is an education in Cajun culture. Home to the Cajun Hall of Fame, Eunice is all about Creole music. Set up by the Cajun French Music Association, the institution keeps creole traditions alive and kicking for new generations. You can visit the museum, which is located next door to the Eunice Museum in the centre of town for free. If you happen to be in town over the weekend, head to the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, for a lesson in how to party Cajun style, with lively folk life demos, great music and plenty of dancing.
Want to see some untamed Louisiana landscapes? The Creole Nature Trail will deliver that and more. The vast coastal wetlands are home to an array of wildlife ranging from the deadly (swamp crocodiles) to the beautiful (there are over 400 species of stunning birds). Each leg of the vast trail offers a new chance to experience the varied landscape and try your hand at a new activity. If you’re after a wet and wild adventure, take a ride on an airboat along the marshes and swamps. If you’re after something a little more relaxing, cast your net in the wetlands or do some shrimping and see what haul you’ll manage to take home.
Situated on the western part of Chef Menteur Pass, Fort Macomb and Fort Pike may be crumbling 19th century landmarks, but they still made for a dramatic backdrop when featured in True Detective’s episode five (the one where Reggie Ledoux is found). Stop off here, if only to take a selfie or two by the heritage sites. There are plenty of classic all-American diners serving up southern delicacies along the highway once you’re done.
It’s by Lake Charles that the True Detective plot takes a major twist in the series. In actuality, Lake Charles is teaming with interesting things to do and places to visit for those who want to check out key film locations and indulge in some good old-fashioned creole food and frolicking. If a big bowl of Jambalaya is your ideal meal, Steamboat Bill’s (voted the best restaurant in southwest Louisiana last year) is a must-stop spot. And if you happen to be in the area come July, avid foodies will enjoy the annual Cajan Music and Food Festival. It’s a vibrant celebration of Louisiana’s incredible culinary and artistic past and an introduction to first class southern hospitality.
Header photo © Aerial view of river in Lafayette, Louisiana – Jupiterimages/iStock/Thinkstock
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Have you visited any of these Louisiana landscapes? Are there any other True Detective film locations we haven’t mentioned that you’ve been to? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Chantelle Symester