"You will now see Laura Plantation to your left... and you'll understand why you made the right choice."
The words of Rick, the driver who took us to the Oak Alley Plantation and who had just left half our group on a different plantation, left us in suspense. What the hell would be so special about Oak Alley that those aloe and sugar cane fields we saw next to us would be so obviously a worse choice?
The Oak Alley Plantation is an old sugar cane plantation, built in the nineteenth century by Jacques Roman, and today it sheds a light on the relationship between the rich Louisiana families and their slaves. In the tours, about one hour long, we are introduced not only to the family history but also to what the life of the slaves in that house was. Outside the "big house", there is also an alley of rebuilt wooden quarters that show where slaves used to sleep, with more exhibitions about this subject.
But the truth is that as interesting as the history of the house is - and it is, besides being a real punch in the stomach - that is not what makes the difference. In the same area, there are others that can be visited, each one with its peculiarity: the Laura Plantation or the Houmas House Plantation are just some examples.
What truly makes it worth the visit to the Oak Alley, and hence the "right choice", is its ... oak alley. In all, there are 28 oaks with more than 200 years that have been transplanted to their current location. From the first floor of the mansion, you have an unbelievable view of this alley, and not even the road at the end of the tunnel ruins the mandatory photography. One of the previous owners once said that this is the "most beautiful view of Louisiana" - if it is not true, we want to see the real one.
Even on a day with several tours, we managed to escape a crowded space. And the truth is that seeing the people who are there visiting, and how they interact with it and with others, is also part of the experience. It is so interesting for us to react to what we are seeing as it is to see the reaction of others as they wander through the gardens and the shacks, hearing the story of how that house was built.
Photos inside the mansion are not allowed, which only leaves us with an alternative: to recommend that you visit it, on any trip to New Orleans. The way there, from the city, takes about an hour - if you do not have a car available, there are several companies that provide tours, which already include the ticket price.
Another tip: take advantage of jet lag you'll certainly have when you arrive in the United States if you are traveling from Europe, and book the tour early in the morning. You will be awake anyway, you might as well avoid the crowds.