The maze of bayous and swamps arching southwest of New Orleans – 'down the bayou,' as locals say – is where the first Cajuns settled. Their traditional lifestyle is still in evidence in small part, though now it's mostly older folks who speak French and make a living from fishing the waterways.

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If you only have a half-day for the bayou region, head south to the Barataria Preserve, where wooden walkways meander through the swamp.