Where to Live Next
PLUS A Listing of the Region's Top Real Estate Professionals
While we can’t explore every great neighborhood in the 22-parish region, in the pages that follow, we offer you snapshots of some of the best towns and neighborhoods in Acadiana, based on everything from great schools and historic architecture to cultural attractions and outdoor activities.
While the value of a good neighborhood is usually defined by its location — proximity to downtown, jobs and school districts, Acadiana’s best neighborhoods are often defined by access to churches, good neighbors, food and a vibrant, living history. Since the ecclesiastical parish preceded the formation of civil authority in Acadiana, many areas were built up around a church, such as Vermilionville (present-day Lafayette) and Royville (present-day Youngsville). Hence, historic churches remain the cornerstone of many Cajun communities with surging housing demands in 2021.
Lafayette Parish is the driver of Acadiana’s record-setting real estate market and Youngsville is still the fastest-growing community. Adjacent towns with historic churches and cultural attractions such as Broussard and Carencro offer comparatively lower home prices. When the massive new Amazon center opens, Carencro is predicted to “become the next Youngsville” via rapid expansion.
Best Neighborhood to Raise a Family
Youngsville | Sugar Mill Pond
From urbanite couples relocating with children to descendants of the original settlers seeking dream homes, we find Youngsville (formerly Royville) has wide appeal for its safe, upscale neighborhoods, excellent schools, historic churches and affluent, small-town feel. The expanding 509-acre traditional neighborhood development (TND) of Sugar Mill Pond arose from French settlers’ farmlands. One of the oldest churches in the Diocese of Lafayette, St. Anne emerged in 1859 when Desiré Roy donated nine arpents of farmland with a chapel to New Orleans Archbishop Antoine Blanc for the area’s first church. Desiré was the eldest son of prominent French planter Charles A. Roy, founder of Royville in 1839. After Desiré’s tragic cotton gin explosion, a younger sibling, Pierre Bienvenu, became mayor and helped organize FNB of Lafayette. The family’s 1760s New Orleans roots were revived when Marie Althea Roy, Pierre’s daughter, married Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s in New Orleans. Through wars and hurricanes, Royville thrived and was reincorporated in 1908 as Youngsville, earning its city moniker in 2006. From a flourishing village to a booming city with borders broadened by Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville continues to attract families devoted to their heritage, hearth and home.
At A Glance
In 1908, the U.S. Postal Service asked village leaders to change Royville’s name to avoid confusion with Rayville in North Louisiana.
City of Roundabouts
Known for its roundabouts, Youngsville was the first city in Lafayette Parish to use traffic circles instead of red lights to ease congestion.
The circa 1875-1899 Roy-Dupleix mansion; the 162-year-old St. Anne Catholic Church, founded to serve five neighboring villages.
One of Louisiana’s leading school systems, Youngsville’s schools include Southside High and Acadiana Renaissance Charter Academy. Prodigy Early Learning opens in 2022.
Youngsville native, Senator Dudley LeBlanc (“Couzan Dud”), donated the life-size St. Therese statue fronting St. Anne Catholic Church.
Youngsville has the highest median household income ($95,395) in Lafayette Parish ($51,462); and more than double New Orleans ($37,146), Louisiana’s largest city.
Structured for safety with roundabouts instead of red lights, kid-friendly golf carts instead of cars, top schools and world-class youth sports
Sugar Mill Pond
People enjoy riding golf carts to get around in this picturesque, walkable TND featuring myriad parks, bicycle and jogging paths and a diversity of upscale residences near chic shops and eateries, a town center, an amphitheater and a central pond frequented for boating, special events and firework shows. Expanding since its inception; currently in Phase 10 (sugarmillpond.com).
Safety and Opportunity
“We don’t have a single red light in town,” says Jessica Willis, executive director of Youngsville’s Chamber of Commerce. “It’s all roundabouts. They call it Roundaboutville. Also, we’re the only town without a single highway running through it. We only have two-lane roads. It’s very safe. People ride golf carts to get around. Since there’s so much to love here, including great schools, there are currently 2,800 vacant lots in the process of being developed for new houses.”
Top Sports Complex
The 70-acre Youngsville Sports Complex features numerous tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, little league world series and youth sports programs in partnership with top sports organizations (including one created on-site by Drew Brees). Sugar Beach volleyball, playgrounds, pavilions and fully stocked fishing ponds are among the perks (youngsvillesportscomplex.com).
A sister of Charter Schools USA, the 12,000-square-foot Prodigy Early Learning’s newest location in Youngsville opens in early 2022 (ages 8 weeks to pre-K), featuring a STEM lab and enrichment activities like yoga, sign language and foreign language education. Equipped with safety cameras and codes, hourly ionization filtration systems and ZONO Disinfecting Cabinets that sanitize toys in minutes (Acadiana@ProdigyLearn.com).
Best Neighborhood for Performing Arts
Lafayette | Bendal Gardens
New York fashion tycoon and Lafayette native, Henri Bendel (1868-1936), died before he could build his Lafayette dream house after purchasing 213 arpents along the Vermilion River, formerly Walnut Grove Plantation. Once it was on the market, developer David Coopwood Bintliff acquired the 150-acre property to create the exclusive Bendel Gardens neighborhood, revered among arts patrons for its easy access to Lafayette’s top performing arts venues. We admire the neighborhood’s conveyance of grandeur, from 19th-century landmarks to transformed modern mansions. Historic treasures include a grand Queen Anne (circa 1893) landmark that was split in two, moved intact from Abbeville to Bendel Gardens, precisely one hundred years after Simonet LeBlanc built the two-story home, carriage house and stables for his bride, Elia Roy (daughter of French planter Desiré Roy). Accented with a generous wrap-around columned porch and lacy gingerbread trim, it was later refurbished and expanded. In architectural contrast, the stunning G. Richard and Nicole Young house was transformed from a traditional home into a modern masterpiece with a minimalist vibe by architects/designers, Gil and Tanya Zaunbrecher, via unique glass wall systems between interconnected rooms and exteriors. Live oaks, camellias and azaleas line neighborhood streets.
At A Glance
Developer David Coopwood Bintliff named two of the streets after his children: Marjorie and Beverly as a provision of backing the project.
Near Girard Park
Home to Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, the 33-acre park is enhanced with tennis courts, playgrounds, pavilions and jogging trails.
For Your Health
Enjoy easy access to Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center.
Vermilionville grew up around a church after Jean Mouton donated a portion of his land to establish (present-day) St. John the Evangelist Cathedral.
Planted by Henri Bendel in the early 1930s, southern Magnolia Row begins on Marguerite Boulevard and extends to the river with mature magnolias in full bloom from May-June.
A springtime attraction since the 1930s, the Lafayette Historic Azalea Trail is a winding drive through downtown, the Oil Center and historic neighborhoods (azaleatrail.org).
Near UL-Lafayette, the Oil Center, downtown galleries, museums, chic boutiques and chef-driven restaurants; theater, symphony and ballet venues.
Art in Context
Rising like a phoenix from Walnut Grove’s ashes, Bendel Gardens’ community emerged with arts patrons and creatives near museums, galleries and performing arts venues
Birth of a Neighborhood
The 150-acre Bendel Gardens was originally owned by Jean Mouton and Charlotte Odeide Mouton, daughter of Gov. Alexandre Mouton. In 1863, federal troops seized their plantation, forced out Charlotte and her six children, and burned it down. The property changed hands until Houston oilman, David Coopwood Bintliff, developed the sprawling Bendel Gardens neighborhood.
For Art Lovers
Nearby Acadiana Center for the Arts serves the entire region though arts education, outreach, concerts, more than 40 annual exhibits and 150 annual events including every genre of performing arts (acadianacenterforthearts.org).
Museum of Masters
The Hilliard Art Museum at UL-Lafayette’s permanent collections includes 18th-21st-century European, Asian and American artworks. Changing exhibits showcase regional, national and international art (hilliardmuseum.org).
Cité des Arts is a non-profit arts incubator featuring a variety of theater productions staged in the recently remodeled Robert Sidman Theater that flanks a dance studio equipped with a floating dance floor (citedesarts.org).
For History Buffs
The Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum, named for Louisiana’s first democratic governor, was once the home of Jean Mouton, founder of Vermilionville, renamed Lafayette in 1884.
Best Neighborhood for Lakefront Luxury
Lake Charle | Margaret Place/Shell Beach Drive
Southern sophistication is at home in the luxurious Margaret Place/Shell Beach Drive neighborhood, where some of the most opulent historic mansions and grand estates in Lake Charles are nestled along the 1.7-mile scenic stretch of Shell Beach Drive bordering the Margaret Place subdivision’s eastern terminus, formerly Old Spanish Trail. Among the many grand historic homes is the neoclassical Stockwell mansion on Shell Beach Drive. Built in 1937, it was wedding present from Dr. R.G. Hocombe Sr. for his daughter, Roseina, and son-in-law, Oliver P. Stockwell. The city’s oldest house with the oldest legend is the Sallier-Barbe mansion on Shell Beach. The Charles Sallier cabin’s original bousillage walls (circa 1802) were discovered 75 years ago, hidden in the Sallier-Barbe mansion walls. Brought to Louisiana by pirate Jean Lafitte, Sallier was jealous of the audacious womanizing privateer. After finding the handsome Lafitte in his lakeside cabin with young wife, Catherine LeBleu, Sallier shot her with his pistol, then fled and never returned. His bullet lodged in Catherine’s brooch, a gift from Lafitte. Tales of Lafitte’s buried loot, including a large cache of gold coins found near a grove of trees east of Old Spanish Trail, are still circulating like the howling spectral winds that lurk around the notorious cabin, forever hidden on the water’s edge.
At A Glance
Many Shell Beach Drive properties have boathouses overlooking the water that resemble the adjacent mansions.
Catherine LeBleu’s descendants still live in the area as owners of the popular LeBleu’s Landing restaurant and oyster bar (lebleuslanding.com).
Charles Sallier (never seen again after shooting his wife) is memorialized at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum’s 375-year-old landmark, The Sallier Oak.
Jean Lafitte favored the shores of Lake Charles to bury treasure. Celebrate Lafitte’s legend for two weeks during the annual Louisiana Pirate Festival (louisianapiratefestival.com).
A Lake Named Charles
The lake bordering Charles Sallier’s cabin was called “Charles’ Lake.” The surrounding area became Charles Town, later Charleston in 1861 and renamed Lake Charles in 1867.
In 1911, the Hi-Mount Land Company advertised residential lots in Margaret Place. One of the landowners allegedly traded the undeveloped land for two blankets and a bottle of rum.
Of Legends & Lore
Local accounts of the Shell Beach Drive area add to the unfathomable legends of lost beachfront landmarks, ancient oaks and trajectories of pirate Jean Lafitte
Prior Party Place
On the lakeshore near the intersection of Lake Street and Shell Beach Drive (the wooded land that’s part of the Barbe family homestead) was the famous Barbe Pleasure Pier, complete with a casino, theatre and dance hall that extended 200 feet into the lake at the turn of the century. The city’s prime center of recreation and entertainment, the popular pier was situated at the terminus of the streetcar line.
Faked Death Revealed
Beloved in Lake Charles, Jean Lafitte was supposedly buried at sea in 1823. But a new book published by UL-Lafayette Press, “Jean Lafitte Revealed: Unraveling One of America’s Longest-Running Mysteries” by professors Ashley Oliphant and Beth Yarbrough, takes a fresh look at all the legends, from Lafitte’s rise in Louisiana and the Gulf through his eventual disappearance in the Caribbean, with new evidence of Lafitte’s 1839 arrival in North Carolina and death in Lincolnton in 1875 at age 96 under an assumed French name.
A celebrated live oak tree in the Margaret Place/Shell Beach Drive neighborhood has its own personal caretaker, and its seedlings are so revered that they’re harvested to create other oaks and for coastline conservation. Known as the Calcasieu Manor Tree, the 170-year-old live oak that resides on a grand estate is registered with the Live Oak Society and the Louisiana Garden Club Federation.
Where to Stay
Situated on the Shell Beach Drive lakefront with cool breezes and amazing views the 10,000-square-foot luxurious Della Belle Bed and Breakfast is situated on a 9-acre property with five elegant guest suites in the mansion. Built in 1925, the Greek-influenced B&B reopens this fall. A grand parlor, billiard room bar, tea room, a pharmacy bar, formal dining and breakfast rooms, a garden house, a carriage house with an upstairs suite and a boathouse with panoramic views attract regulars (thedellabelle.com).
Best Neighborhood for Young Professionals
Lafayette | Saints Streets
Known for its close proximity to UL Lafayette, the Cajundome, Cajun Field and downtown, the popular Saints Streets area is a magnet for creative millennials and Gen Zers seeking affordable, centrally located housing with easy access to casual eateries, hip music havens, trendy shops and Ragin’ Cajun games. Beyond its location, we also favor the nostalgic allure of the quiet, walkable neighborhood replete with picturesque cottages and colorful bungalows intermingled with chic modern farmhouses, historic homes and churches. St. John Street, the oldest of the “saintly” lanes, anchors the church that launched Lafayette in 1840. St. John the Evangelist Cathedral is graced with the commanding 126-foot-tall, 500-year-old St. John live oak. The neighborhood’s oak-lined streets, named for favorite saints and flowering foliage, traverse subdivisions from Johnston to beyond Congress, and from Cajundome Boulevard to University Avenue. It’s a safe, people-watching milieu. You’ll recognize the busy young professionals walking to work and students biking to campus. On autumn evenings, you can smell the hickory smoke from backyard barbecues. Neighbors bond over front-porch beers, entertained by toddlers on trikes and Gen Zers on ’cross bikes heading for Blue Moon Saloon’s bounce night pop-ups, Wurst Biergarten’s open mic hook-ups and Rock’n’Bowl’s two-stepping Cajun coteries.
At A Glance
Homes in the Saints Street area don’t stay on the market for long, data shows. Limited inventory has motivated some buyers to make offers above asking price.
The French-immersion program at Myrtle Place Elementary is known for its high ratings and widespread success (greatschools.org).
Elmhurst Park (developed in 1905-1907) is one of several historic subdivisions that span the Saints Streets neighborhood.
Capers for Kids
Kids enjoy the Children’s Museum of Acadiana’s full-size ambulance (childrensmuseumofacadiana.com) and the planetarium at the Lafayette Science Museum.
Grab an overstuffed oyster half-loaf at the iconic Olde Tyme Grocery, then loop out back to find those classic Murph’s snowballs (oldetymegrocery.com).
Of History & Hadacol
Attractions range from historic homes and churches to a Cajun senator’s downtown landmark built for Hadacol “medicine” that yielded millions
Diversity by Design
Frequently misconstrued as a neighborhood limited to modest midcentury classics, the area is graced with architectural variety. The Saints Streets’ Elmwood Park subdivision, which was originally part of the vast land holdings of Basil and Maxime Crow, has notable historic landmarks. The Crows gifted the area to their daughter, Maxime, and her husband, Michel Girard. The Girards’ imposing circa 1857 manse was built a block away from their son’s circa 1900 Queen Anne domain (the family’s land donations instigated the original UL Lafayette campus and Girard Park). Beyond Elmwood, the La Maison Française was designed in the Classical Revival style by famed fashion tycoon, Henri Bendel, for his sister, Louise Bendel Meyer. In another area, Tanya and Gil Zaunbrecher (Zaunbrecher Design) transformed the Lauren and William Poche home into a modern interpretation of a sprawling Queen Anne farmhouse. The duo also designed their own, eye-catching modern farmhouse on a vacant narrow lot in the Saints Streets neighborhood.
Lafayette’s Mother Church
The soaring 50-foot ceiling of the Romanesque-style St. John the Evangelist Cathedral (completed in 1916) is a far cry from the rustic ceiling that covered the original l’Église St-Jean du Vermilion when it was built in 1821 on land donated by prominent French planter Jean Mouton. The cathedral is the third structure on the site that’s lauded as the dawn of Vermilionville (present-day Lafayette). The original church doubled as a government hub since it was the only place frequented by the area’s early settlers. The second church was built in the 1850s by Father Antoine Mégret, founder of Abbeville’s St. Mary Magdalen church, established in 1842 from the remodeled Joseph LeBlanc home.
Good for Five Million
The historic Tribune Building, known as the old downtown printing plant, was actually built by Senator Dudley LeBlanc to bottle his famous Hadacol patent medicine. The colorful Cajun’s boozy “vitamin” elixir became wildly popular “for pep” in the late 1940s.
Best Neighborhood for Historic Homes
Lake Charles | Charpentier District
The heart of Lake Charles is the historic Charpentier District, covering more than 40 blocks of turn-of-the-century residential and commercial buildings distinguished by various architectural styles and accents. After the Civil War, the city transitioned with the influx of immigrants from northern and midwestern states, precipitated by the lumber boom that came with the northern lumber barons. Mill workers settled in the area east of downtown in what is now the Charpentier District (French for “carpenter”), named for the self-made carpenter-architects who freely designed as they built, since there were no available architects. They borrowed different elements from myriad architectural styles that gave rise to the unique Lake Charles style that prevails. We feel that if you spend enough time exploring the eye-catching, unique homes while strolling beneath the huge oaks, real estate listings will soon follow. The historic district is adjacent to the beach and boardwalk, popular for afternoon sailboat-watching, jogging and catching dreamy sunsets.
At A Glance
Historic Homes Verified
The 40-block area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fueled by the vast woodlands in the area, the 1880s lumber boom led to the rapid growth of the city and the extensive use of solid pine and cypress for homes.
The nearby Civic Center Seawall and Park has added attractions with Millennium Park, Veterans Memorial Park and the PPG interactive fountain.
Off the Rails
In 2011, a section of downtown’s original streetcar tracks (discontinued in 1926) was uncovered during replacement of the Pithon Coulee Bridge.
Get a taste of the town at 121 Artisan Bistro, Restaurant Calla and the new The James 710 for upscale dining, Steamboat Bill’s for casual seafood, and Cajun fare at LeBleu’s Landing.
The reopened Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu is filled with lifelike costumed mannequins with distinctive physiognomy that makes each Carnival scenario vivid.
Calcasieu Parish was created out of St. Landry Parish in 1840 and “Charleston” became the parish seat in 1852 at the urging of Jacob Ryan.
Profiles of historic homes that convey how a lumber boom shaped Lake Charles architecture and the historic Charpentier District’s varied styles and cultural roots
A Study in Styles
Houses in the Charpentier District were constructed between the late 1800s and the early 1930s. The Edgar Miller House (circa 1914) is a sterling example of a craftsman airplane bungalow built of longleaf pine, brick and stucco with five windows in the “cockpit” dormer and a broad front porch roof acting as a “wing.” The Samuel Woodring House (circa 1907) has hand-selected lumber for the massive show house (he was manager of the Calcasieu Longleaf Lumber Co.). Originally built in the Queen Anne style, it was remodeled to add fluted columns and the wrap-around porches. The Ernest Bel House (circa 1890) was built by J.A. Bel for his son as a wedding present with 17 rooms, a five-room carriage house and a hidden widow’s walk above the attic.
Lake Charles had electric streetcars as early as 1894 and one of the lines ran from downtown via Kirby and Kirkman streets to serve the residents of upper Lake Charles and Central Place, resulting in a prestigious neighborhood that developed with large, elegant homes.
Lumber to the Rescue
For more than 100 years, sailing schooners from Lake Charles traded with Galveston and other Gulf port cities with cargoes that included lumber and other commodities. As late as 1900, after a great storm destroyed much of Galveston, Lake Charles lumber was used to rebuild the Texas coastal city.
The Germans were experienced lumbermen and shipbuilders and left a tradition of excellent woodcraft exhibited in houses and structures in Charpentier District’s Germantown area.Featuring a grand portico supported by massive “Lake Charles columns,” the Walter Goos house (circa 1903) is a 3-story Colonial Revival gem built of cypress. The Captain Simon Jacobson cottage (circa 1885) follows the traditional shape of a seafarer’s cottage. The Charles Fitzenreiter house is a Victorian raised cottage with turned columns supporting the front gallery. The Alfred Reid House (circa 1891) is known for its witch’s hat turret. A mirror-flipped twin of this house is on Moss and Division (minus the hat).