Monday, March 17, 2014

Where can you find those magnificent azaleas?

     Spring is here, folks, and the flowers are bursting forth like a mule smelling the barn. After all, it’s been a tough winter. Even though our friends up north would laugh in comparison, we’ve had a more colder, icier and snowy winter than usual. 
     But that’s all done now and for those of you still struggling with all that wintry stuff, come visit and defrost, enjoy some of our great cuisine and listen to our fabulous music while sitting outside among the flowers. 
     One of the greatest shows of color this time of year is our azaleas. These large displays of pink, red, salmon, purple and white appear in March and decorate the horizon with grand color. Approximately 20 miles of Lafayette city streets are lined with azaleas that adorn beautiful homes and historical points. Some of the bushes of gigantic proportions are more than 50 years old! In Lafayette, the predominant variety is the Formosa, christened the “General Lafayette,” which blooms in colors of lavender and fuchsia.
      You can find the best azalea exhibits by following the Lafayette Azalea Trail, either online or by picking up a brochure at the Lafayette Visitor Center on Evangeline Thruway. The Lafayette Azalea Trail starts at the Visitor Center and meanders through the city past many of Lafayette's landmarks, such as City Hall, Girard Park and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
     Iberia Parish to our south has a self-guided driving tour as well this time of year. And attractions such as Jungle Gardens of Avery Island and Jefferson Island Rip Van Winkle Gardens are choked full of color. For information, visit the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitor’s Bureau web site or stop by their visitor’s center at 2513 Highway 14 in New Iberia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Playing Pétanque: A bit of France right here in Lafayette!

     You might know the game from seeing Frenchmen in berets rolling chrome balls down an outside court. The game is Pétanque, and you don’t have to travel to France to experience it.
     The Sixth International Pétanque Tournament will be held Friday-Sunday, March 28-30, 2014, right here in Lafayette, Louisiana. Naturally, because it’s Lafayette, we’ll have lots of fun at the same time.
Photos by Josh Coen
     Scheduled events in Lafayette’s Girard Park include:
     March 28: Welcome to visiting players at the French Table (where folks enjoy company and French conversation) at 5 p.m. at Johnston Street Java, a local coffee house; 
     March 29: Practice and pickup games at 2 p.m. at Girard Park, followed by Cajun music and food events beginning at 6 p.m. at local restaurants and venues; and
     March 30: Adult Tournament beginning at 9 a.m. 
     Just what is Pétanque anyway? The present form of the game originated in La Ciotat, in southern France by boule player Jules Lenoir who couldn’t run before throwing the ball due to his rheumatism. The field was cut in half with players stationary, hence its Provencal name meaning “feet together” or “feet anchored.” 
     “The first pétanque tournament with the new rules was organized in 1910 by the brothers Ernest and Joseph Pitiot, proprietors of a café at La Ciotat,” according to Lafayette’s La Boule Cadienne de Lafayette, the Cajun Boules of Lafayette, sponsor of the event. “After that the sport grew with great speed, and soon became the most popular form of boules.” 
     Now there are about 600,000 pétanque members in 52 countries.
     In Lafayette, the organization meets every fourth Sunday of the month and holds tournaments annually.
     The March events will be held in the north end of Girard Park on Girard Park Lane near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Alumni House; look for the Acadian flag. The tournament is being sponsored by La Boule Cadienne de Lafayette, a local club of pétanque players who are members of the Pétanque Federation of USA. For more information, contact Mike LeBlanc at (337) 654-9467 or email him at or visit the website