Click on each picture for a full-sized version with captions (from some of our previous trips).
French Quarter, New Orleans
A Mardi Gras Indian at Jazzfest
One of dozens of Jazzfest's fabulous food booths.
Boiling the crawfish
Peelin' and eatin' crawfish!
The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band with Richard Thompson!
A roseate spoonbill on Lake Martin
- Wednesday, April 21 - Optional arrival in New Orleans.
- Thursday, April 22 - New Orleans.
- Check into our deluxe hotel, the privately-owned Bourbon Orleans, in very heart of the French Quarter. Nestled between Bourbon Street and Jackson Square, there is no better location for exploring the French Quarter.
Settle in, have a Sazerac in the palm-lined courtyard, take a dip in the pool or wander the colorful streets of New Orleans!
Our tour starts tonight with a private dinner at one ofour favorite restaurants in the French Quarter, the elegant and atmospheric Muriel's. We will enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the Seance Lounge before a delicious 3 course dinner in our private Plantation Room with balconies overlooking Jackson Square. After finishing up on Muriel's famous bread pudding and tanking up on chicory coffee for that extra energy (the night is young!) you can head out to one of the clubs for some of that fabulous New Orleans music, or wander home through the Quarter to our cozy hotel for an early night.
- Friday, April 23 - New Orleans.
- Today is the first day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival -- absolutely one of the best festivals in the world! Music goes from 11AM to dusk on 12 different stages with every kind of music imaginable -- rock to reggae, jazz, blues, Cajun, Zydeco, traditional and contemporary jazz, gospel and world music. There are literally thousands of musicians the two weekends of this fabulous festival. The line up for Jazz Fest has just been announced and can be found at nojazzfest.com.
We'll be giving you tickets for two of the three days of the Festival so that you will have one free day to enjoy the French Quarter. If you want to attend all 3 days additional tickets can be bought from us ahead of time so you can avoid the hassle and save money over the steep Ticketmaster prices. Tickets are also available at the gate but at the higher price of $60.
With over 100 Louisiana specialties served at over 40 different food booths, the Jazz Fest is a true feast for all the senses. At nighttime New Orleans just fills up with music in every club, concert hall and street corner. Between club hopping, dinner by some of the best chefs in the world and the Jazz Fest during the day, your only problem is how to get some sleep. But when you are finally ready for that swim or sleep you can return to the comfort of our hotel, the Bourbon Orleans.
- Saturday & Sunday, April 24 - 25 - New Orleans.
- Meet us 'round the pool to visit and chat about last night's adventures or stroll over to the famous Café du Monde for coffee and beignets. Your days this weekend are free to enjoy the city and the amazing New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
- Monday, April 26 - Eunice.
- Our CAJUN TOUR starts today!
Leaving New Orleans behind we head west driving past Lake Pontchartrain into the heart of the Cajun Country for a relaxing afternoon on the Louisiana Bayous. Just south of Breaux Bridge, home of the now infamous Crawfish Festival, we find the picturesque, wild and quite undiscovered Lake Martin. This is the perfect antidote to our previous hectic days as we drift past lush cypress trees, explore the alligator swamps and spot the local birds, with the best private guides in the area. As a bonus we'll hopefully catch a rare glimpse of bright pink wading birds called roseate spoonbills, who nest for only a short time in this tiny part of Louisiana.
Walking distance down the lush road from Lake Martin is one of the most special homes that I have ever been to -- the romantic and secluded Maison Madeleine. We will enjoy a gumbo lunch at this 1840s-era restored Creole cottage, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
After lunch we drive north to Eunice, the Cajun Prairie Capital, where we will spend the next two nights.
Tonight we're invited to the home of the great Zydeco musician and Grammy winner Geno Delafose. Geno has invited us for a private down home BBQ at his Double D Ranch just outside of Eunice. Eat, drink, hear some great music and dance your feet off with family and friends!
- Tuesday, April 27 - Eunice.
- One of the main ingredients in gumbo and so many Cajun dishes is Cajun sausage, and the most famous place for this is the family owned LeJeune's Sausage Kitchen located just outside of Eunice. Folks travel from all over the state to pick up this specialty. This is where the Savoys get their boudin and because of that connection LeJeune's is giving us a private tour where we will see the smoking and making of this most famous meat. Then it's onto Eunice's tiny downtown, which prides itself on being the Cajun Prairie Capital. Visit the Cajun Music Hall of Fame, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center and the famed Liberty Theatre or just listen to the locals speaking Cajun French as you have lunch in one of Eunice's down home cafes.
After lunch we'll head over to the Savoy Music Center to spend time with the master himself -- accordion maker and National Heritage musician Marc Savoy. We'll have the privilege to hang at the feet of the master in his actual workshop where the world's most famous Cajun accordions are built.
Afterwards we're invited to Marc & Ann's country home for our annual Crawfish Boil -- a very special treat. The Crawfish Boil is not open to the public, but only guests of Marc and Ann's will join those of us on the tour. Spend a lazy afternoon under the trees listening and dancing to great Cajun music played by the Savoy family and friends, mingling with the locals drinking brew and eating obscene amounts of crawfish, potatoes and corn piled high on long wooden tables while hot chicken sizzles on the BBQ. YUM! No wonder Marc and Ann look forward to our annual trip and party!
In the evening as the fireflies start to come out, Marc will undoubtedly organize one of his now infamous "nature walks" on their farm -- sometimes culminating in an impromptu dive into the lake. It's an incredible day and most people say it's the highlight of their entire trip.
- Wednesday, April 28 - Lafayette and back to New Orleans.
- We drive south to Lafayette, the Cajun Country's most intriguing town for lunch and absolutely the most fun cooking class you'll ever have -- led by the renowned and entertaining Cajun chef, Patrick Mould. After downing an Oyster shooter we'll have a cooking demonstration to beat all others as we enjoy some of the finest food of the whole trip- with sweet fiddle music played between courses. Life doesn't get better than this!
With full and happy stomachs we drive back into the Crescent City in the late afternoon arriving in time for dinner or an evening club hopping.
- Thursday, April 29 - New Orleans.
- Our full tour officially ends today. If you've signed up for the "Thursday Extension", which we recommend, then you're free to sightsee and relax in New Orleans or head out for another great day of the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which has now started up for the second weekend. Thursday is my favorite day at Jazz Fest not to mention the French Quarter as it tends to be less crowded and a really wonderful atmosphere.
- Friday - Sunday, April 30 - May 2 - New Orleans.
- If you've signed up for the "Second Weekend Add On" we will give you tickets to 2 days of the festival so you can come and go as you wish. Evenings are free.
- Monday, May 3 - New Orleans.
- Our tour officially ends after breakfast ...
- Laissez les bons temps rouler!
- Come with us to eat, drink, dance & be merry in the warm Louisiana sun!
- Full Tour $1699
- Cajun Country Only $795
(optional Second Weekend "Add On" also available)
Want to know more?
Nancy Covey or Joey Thompson
Festival Tours International
15332 Antioch St., #17, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Fax/Tel (818) 346-5146 (310) 454-4080
Nancy Covey, our fearless leader!
To sign up for our trip
Download and print out our 2010
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Here's what others have said ...
"It's really wonderful that people like Nancy who have enough, what you might say, 'soul', that she can organize a really down-home trip like this for you folks where you can hear music and eat crawfish after going out and catching 'em for yourself. She really puts you in contact. You really get in the mud!" --- Marc Savoy
"A trip on Nancy Covey's musical excursions is to get INSIDE the culture your visiting. She knows all the local musicians, all the local chefs, and you get steeped in an insider's view that can't be had if you're a tourist. It's better to wander lost, than to follow a map made by tourists. With Nancy you get extremely interesting traveling companions, a very happy stomach, and the soundtrack is unique regional songs played live! I'm a musician, and I had a blast!" --- John Densmore, percussionist.
"Nancy, the tour was beyond amazing. after listening to this music for so long, Randy and I could not believe what we were hearing and who we were seeing. The whole experience was overwhelming -- we were saying on the flight home that we were pretty much stunned and speechless a good part of the time those three days and nights.
The itinerary you've constructed is just great. You packed in so much, but we never felt rushed. We loved everything we did, but being at the musicians' homes, meeting them and hearing the music in those three different settings... wow, I still don't have words for that. The day and evening with the Savoys was particularly unforgettable. In fact, the whole thing was unforgettable!
Incredible music, incredible food (did we eat enough, you think?!), and some of the nicest folks we've ever met, both our fellow travellers on the bus and, of course, our hosts at every stop.
Our warmest thanks to you, Nancy. You're the kind of person who makes people feel they've known you always. What a great thing it is that you do. I know we would have made it to Cajun country on our own, but we would never have had the kind of experiences we had on the tour. And thanks, also, to Carole for keeping us all together.
How lucky that Michael Doucet gave us your flyer back in February. Please keep in touch. We would love to sign up again for next year.
--- Linda and Randy Green, Illinois.
"We did Nancy's tour and stayed at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. We found its central location in the French Quarter an ideal spot for our first trip to New Orleans.
We had read the article in Rhythms Magazine about Nancy's tour and went with high expectations, but nothing could have prepared us for it. It's an experience rather than a tour and no amount of words can prepare you; like sex, you have to do it to truly know what it's all about.
From the geniality of Geno Delafose and an evening of zydeco music, barbecue and dancing in his barn, to Marc Savoy's intense commitment to Cajun Culture ... Marc was the most gracious of hosts at his beautiful home, made so welcoming by the grace of his wife Ann.
I had heard stories about Nancy's crawfish boil at the Savoys' farm both in print and on air. Yet again it was so much more than one can comprehend; people were eating crawfish non-stop for well over an hour. --- Tim Robinson, Melbourne, Australia.
"Nancy's tour is the truest experience of Cajun food and music that you can get without being a local ... and I sure didn't feel like I was on a tour!" --- Chuck Taggart, Author/webmaster of The Gumbo Pages, former music programmer and DJ on KCRW Santa Monica and KCSN Los Angeles.
"Everyone should go on Nancy's trip at least once in their lifetime!" --- Sandy Miranda, host of "Music of the World", on KPFA-FM, Berkeley, Calif.
"We first went on Nancy's tour back in 1991 as an easy way to go to the Jazz Festival. We thought the Fest was the most fun you could possibly have, until we got to the Cajun country part of the tour ... we had to come on the trip again. And again. Each year, we thought "How can we miss it?" ... Each year, we went to the crawfish boil, easily the best party we've ever attended. Each year, we think we can't possibly have as much fun as last year. And yet, we do. Nancy always tops herself. Our all time favorite memory? The year we got married at the crawfish boil. Told you it was a good party!!" --- Steve Hochman and Mary Herczog. Read more about what they have to say! "I had a great time in NOLA and Cajun country -- made some new friends, heard some great music and even got to dance. I definitely have a better appreciation of Cajun people, their culture and their music. Now I need a holiday to recover from the excess of life in the Big Easy. I'm back home now, back to the real world ... ho hum! Thanks again, Nancy." -- Richard Shadforth, London. "This trip tops our list for Best Vacation Experience ever! Thank you for all you do to create such an amazing experience." --- Anne & Woody Deutch, May 2009.
Interesting linksRecall Music
Ellen Griffith's site promoting independent roots music, with a New Orleans Jazzfest photo feature.
The official Richard Thompson web site!
America's most popular Cajun group!
The Gumbo Pages
Festival Tours' web host.
Email Nancy for more info on the Tour
Read more about Jazzfest, and
visit the Official New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival site
Festival Tours Home Page
Read about our previous music trips to England and Scotland, plus Central Europe!
The Gumbo Pages' Home Page