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There's been a lot of talk about the super-truck stops known as Buc-ee's.  Sure, it's a great place to stop and spend some time (and a lot of money) on a road trip IF you happened to be travelling through a state that is blessed enough to have one.  Unfortunately, Louisiana is not one of those states.  But, do we really need an oversized beaver and his big wall of jerky?  No - we have something much better.

If you travel just over an hour to the southeast of Shreveport, you'll arrive in a lovely little town called Natchitoches.  It's where the major motion picture Steel Magnolias starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley McClain, and many other stars was filmed.  This awesome place also just happens to be the oldest settlement in the entire Louisiana Purchase, and has some pretty incredible history.  Natchitoches was settled in the year 1714, nearly 100 before this map was made!

Map Of Louisiana
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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My hands down favorite part of Natchitoches is right by Interstate 49 at the edge of town.  It's called French Market Express, and it's the gas station Buc-ee's whishes it was.  Sure, I know that Buc-ee's is bigger and has a wider selection of goods than French Market - but that doesn't matter.  What does matter is the food!

empanadas - Argentine fried meat pies.
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You won't go hungry at Buc-ee's by any means, but you'll definitely need to strap on a pair of stretchy pants after gobbling up your weight in French Market's delicious and world-famous meat pies!  Not your thing?  Try the stuffed tater-tots, the alligator po-boys, or anything on the menu for a true taste of Louisiana you just can't get at the beaver depot.

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