Bike tours take travelers into bayou state's heart and soul

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METAIRIE -- Michael Hamner, the new director of French Louisiana Bike Tours, said that working with agents is among the objectives he has set for his firm.

The aligned trees of Oak Alley, an overnight stop on the four-day New Orleans and River Road tour. "I want to become more familiar with travel agents and what they can do. I am willing to negotiate commissions for them," said Hamner, who has been with the firm since 1996 but took over as owner just this past April.

The company offers three itineraries that promise participants a view of Louisiana's Cajun country, New Orleans and the Mississippi River Road. "Our routes lead to special places, through quaint Parisian-like alleys, to grand mansions and plantation homes, to small French Louisiana towns, through lush wetlands, rolling prairies and all points in between," Hamner said.

French Louisiana's five-day Cajun Food and Music itinerary begins in Lafayette and is priced at $995 per person.

One of French Louisiana Bike Tours' itineraries includes a swamp tour. Participants are shuttled to Breaux Bridge, where wine is served during a tour orientation session followed by dinner at Mulate's restaurant and dance hall. Other highlights include pedaling on Bayou Teche and passing through Leonville and Arnaudville before reaching overnight lodgings in Washington, where 80% of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cajun music fills day three with a trip to Mamou for the weekly radio broadcast from Fred's Lounge and a visit to Liberty Theater, a renovated vaudeville hall. The tour moves on to Sunset for a visit and tour of Chretien Point Plantation and ends with a trip to Grand Coteau and a visit to the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Departures are set for Oct. 28 and April 13 and 27.

The four-day New Orleans and River Road tour is priced at $1,095. Highlights include stops at Home Place Plantation, Evergreen Plantation, Laura Plantation and Oak Alley, where there will be overnight lodging.

Next is Convent and viewing of Manresa Retreat House, St. Michael's Church, before pedaling toward lodging in Tezcuco Plantation, where the River Road African American Museum Gallery is located. The trip then visits Donaldsonville (the state's former capital) and Nottoway Plantation before heading to New Orleans for the night. Departures are set for Nov. 5 and 12 as well as April 21.

An April 4 departure remains for the six-day Cajun Experience, which begins in Broussard (15 minutes from Lafayette airport) and is priced at $1,285.

Tour highlights include Fausse Point State Park in the Atchafalaya Basin, a swamp tour, Breaux Bridge (the self-proclaimed crawfish capital), Bayou Teche, Porte Barre, Washington, Chretien Point Plantation and Grand Coteau. It is priced at $1,295.

Tour group sizes on all tours range from eight to 16 people. Overnight lodgings are in bed-and-breakfasts, inns, mansions and plantation homes. French Louisiana's rental equipment includes Trek and Cannondale hybrid bikes, Avocet computers, backpacks and handlebar packs. Rental rates are $109.

French Louisiana Bike Tours
Phone: (800) 346-7989 or (504) 488-9844
Fax: (504) 488-9818
E-mail: [email protected]

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