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Tips for First-Time B&B Guests

Friday, August 26th, 2011

If you’re a first-time bed and breakfast goer, you probably have quite a number of questions. From trying to figure out which bed and breakfast is best to deciding whether or not to bring the kids, travelers have many concerns when it comes to bed and breakfast lodging.

The good news is that bed and breakfast establishments are diverse, accommodating, and offer a great value. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend out of town with that special someone or you want to visit somewhere special with the kids, bed and breakfast establishments offer something for everyone. And they provide an atmosphere that’s much cozier than staying in a huge hotel.

Bed and breakfasts also offer a great value for your vacation dollar. Their rates are usually quite competitive when big hotels, but they offer so much more for your money. You not only get to lodge in fine quarters, but your room rate also includes a full breakfast. And not the type of free breakfast you get at hotels. We’re talking about a real, honest to goodness breakfast that you and your fellow travelers will love.

If you have any concerns about bringing your kids, call the bed and breakfast before booking your trip to see if they are family friendly. The best innkeepers will even be able to suggest great things you can do locally during your stay.

Still not sure if staying at a bed and breakfast in Louisiana is right for you? Call the inn. Explain what you’re travel needs are (e.g. kids, pets, romantic, etc.) and ask if their establishment is a good fit for what you’re looking for. If it’s not, they will tell you so, and they will probably even be able to refer to a place that better suits your needs.

Do you have any questions about bed and breakfast lodging? Ask us by leaving a comment.

Bocage is not flooded nor will flood

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

“I have had several people write me to ask about flooding.  I am just getting my head above water (figuratively) from work so I can finish this email I started yesterday.
Bocage was built originally in 1801.  There were NO levees.  Back then, they knew what flooded and what did not.   Bocage, l’Hermitage, and Houmas House were built on high ground.  We are 17 feet above MSL and I have checked with everyone to see about flooding.   Evidently, Bocage will not flood under the worst of circumstances today.   That is not to say that the town of Gonzales will still be there, but Bocage will.  ?

Labor of Love: No longer just a roadside stop for a glimpse of the faded past, Bocage is back and inviting a closer look.

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

As seen on Country Roads Magazine

Written by: Mary Ann Sternberg

Marion Rundell is a successful Houston pathologist and a native of Pineville, who had a dream: he wanted to give back to Louisiana by rescuing a historic property and sharing it with the public. His chance came in December 2007, when Bocage Plantation on the River Road near Darrow went up for auction.

I’ve driven past Bocage for years, usually slowing down to admire the white square house with simple, elegant lines, neat columns and a delicate gallery. Despite creeping dereliction, it nevertheless looked inviting and livable. And it must have appealed to other passersby too, because I often saw cars pulled off the asphalt, their passengers spilled out snapping souvenir photos of the handsome façade.

But the view from the road was as close as most of us could get, because without an invitation, Bocage (whose name has been traditionally translated as “Shady Retreat”) was a retreat only for its owners. Bocage had never been open to the public.

When the final gavel fell on that pleasant day in December, the proud new owner of the historic house and 110 acres–sight unseen– was Dr. Marion Rundell.

“I didn’t know Bocage per se,” he confessed. “I only knew it was one of the grand houses left” and that the value of the land alone was probably worth the price.

He’d purchased a mansion built in 1801, known to be a gift from legendary River Road magnate, Marius Pons Bringier, to his daughter Fanny on the occasion of her marriage to Christophe Colomb, a Parisian. It had then been renovated in 1837 for Fanny and Christophe’s son Luis Arthur and his wife Mathilde, under the direction of nationally acclaimed architect, James Dakin.

Three months after buying one of the River Road’s architectural gems, Rundell arrived to inspect his prize and encountered a mess. “I walked in through the screened back porch and it was all wet…the roof was a sieve.” Leaks and standing water had ruined the ground floor walls and created a litany of other damage throughout the house. And it had all been exacerbated because the house had been virtually unoccupied for a decade. The family of Dr. Anita Crozat Kohlsdorf, the previous owner who had bought and refurbished it in the 1940s, had stopped using the property.

“I knew the term ‘rising damp,’” Marion Rundell said wryly, referring to natural seepage that may affect buildings near the Mississippi when the river rises. “But my contractor said we had ‘falling damp.’” It has required two years of reconstruction and restoration, challenging even Rundell’s professed passion for history and architecture as well as a serendipitous background in engineering which preceded his medical degree.

Finally, however, the historic house has reclaimed its former splendor even as the new owner warned that “it will probably never be completely finished.” But now visitors like me no longer have to look longingly from the River Road but can tour the beautiful house and spend the night in an elegant B&B setting.

And we can also ponder some new and intriguing clues to Bocage’s history that turned up unexpectedly during the renovation project. It had always been accepted, for example, that Fanny and Christophe’s 1801 structure was remodeled in 1837 with classical revival elements added. But as Rundell’s contractor carefully scraped the grounds behind the house, he uncovered bases of four symmetrically placed chimneys, charred remains, bricks and brick chunks, and shards of nineteenth century transferware ceramics and glass. This suggested that the original house may have burned on the site, that the existing house was constructed new in 1837 just in front of it.

This hypothesis was seemingly reinforced when the construction team scraped down through Bocage’s interior and exterior plaster and paint, seeking original colors to reproduce, and failed to uncover traces of any previous remodeling job on the house.

Whether or not this will ever be satisfactorily documented does not diminish the appeal of the “new” Bocage. It exudes a refreshed spirit, starting with the view from the road, which is of a handsome house painted in a jaunty Creole palette of cream, ivory, green, and terra cotta, replacing the longtime coat of fading white paint. In front of the main entrance to the living area–on the second floor as befits a Creole design–is a new grand staircase, reproduced from the stairs in the oldest photograph of the house that Rundell could find. It leads to a broad front gallery and a pair of tall French doors opening into a large, antique-filled double parlor with soaring ceilings. The parlors are flanked on each side by bedrooms and enclosed cabinets to the rear. There are no halls.

This surprises many visitors who expect a center hallway, probably because architect Dakin so skillfully mixed Creole and classical revival elements, that the façade hints that the interior might be American-style, Greek revival. But guests are always enchanted with the gracious floor space and fifteen-foot ceilings with elaborate crown moldings and rosettes, either restored or recreated in mid-nineteenth century styles. And each room is tastefully furnished, but not jammed, with period antiques and decorative furnishings.

And everything in the house is from Rundell’s collection. He’s been collecting antiques and decorative furnishings–”the best I could find… it’s an excellent investment”–for over twenty-five years. “I’ve bought beautiful things that I like,” he noted, including furniture by well-known mid-nineteenth century craftsmen such as Prudent Mallard, John Henry Belter, John and Joseph Meeks and others, as well as paintings, porcelains, and crystal pieces.

“But this is not a house museum,” said its new owner pointedly. “It’s an historic house recreated in nineteenth century ambiance.” So overnight guests are invited to sit on the antique sofas and chairs (much more comfortable than you’d imagine) and rest their cocktail glasses on the polished tops of period side tables; they sleep in nineteenth century tester beds and hang clothing in period armoires. “Part of my love of antiques is to use and enjoy [them], not just look at them,” said Rundell firmly.

And, whatever pieces don’t quite work at Bocage simply get shipped back to Rundell’s large warehouse in Houston.

This attitude of trying pieces out and aiming for elegance and romance, together with a keen-eyed decorator, has created a warmth and charm about Bocage that gives it a lovely feeling. In the spacious guestroom where I spent the night, for example, walls were painted a muted shade of Wedgewood blue and a sparkling-bright Waterford crystal chandelier tinkled and shone beneath the high ceiling. Floor to ceiling windows opened to the front gallery. The furnishings included a striking and ornately carved wig cabinet and a three-quarter tester bed so high I had to launch myself into it with a modified Fosbury flop. (Proper bedside stools were on the way, I was assured.) But the en-suite bathroom was modern, offering handsome granite countertops, milled cabinetry, and a high-tech steam shower.

In traditional Creole design, the ground floor of a house was always a functional, lower-ceilinged space because of the incessant threat of flooding from the Mississippi River. So Luis Arthur and Mathilde’s dining room and food preparation areas would probably have been on this level as well as expansive storage areas. When Dr. Kohlsdorf remodeled in the 1940s, she had an interior kitchen and butler’s pantry constructed, carved out a music room, and covered the floor in marble tiles from the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. She also added a second interior staircase that she’d rescued from an historic old New Orleans home and added bathrooms on both levels.

In Marion Rundell’s Bocage, the ground floor retains its nineteenth century proportions including a lower ceiling but now boasts a thoroughly updated kitchen with capabilities for twenty-first century hospitality, including elegant breakfasts for B&B guests and whatever catering a small reception or meeting held at the house might demand. The ground level also serves as the main visitor entrance, with an informal sitting and information area that is double-parlor size, a guest bedroom and bath where the music room had been, and a formal dining room–all furnished with antiques.

When I sat down in the dining room for a leisurely breakfast at the handsome, nineteenth century walnut dining table, I was pleased to see that my fresh fruit with English cream and praline-baked French toast and bacon arrived on flowered Spode china, that my orange juice was served in a crystal glass. The richly patinaed furniture held a highly polished silver service and cut crystal serving pieces; I was cocooned in elegance. As I glanced through the open French doors to the quiet, green landscape, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see one of the Mesdames Colomb gliding toward me to inquire if my visit had been up to expectations.

Eventually, Marion Rundell mused, he may add gardens and period-style outbuildings–cottages and a meeting facility–so that Bocage could expand its hospitality offerings. And he would like to replace some of the eighty-seven trees that blew down in 2008 during Hurricane Gustav, including a number of hundred-year-old pecan trees.

For the moment, however, Bocage has fulfilled his dream. “The Kohlndorfs saved Bocage in the 1940s,” Rundell declared. “But I would like to be known as the individual who properly restored Bocage, using my engineering expertise to fix the problems, and returned it to its original elegance.”

And, I would add, invited the public in to enjoy it.

Bocage now listed with Travel Notes

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Travel Notes proudly allowed Bocage Plantation an entry on their helpful site. Feel free to visit their website @ for more Louisiana “Things to do”.

The Travel Notes Online Guide to Travel provides country/state travel and tourist information, reviewed web sites, regular travel articles, and online ticketing for car hire, hotel reservations and discounted flights.

Neil Odenwald resume

Monday, October 25th, 2010


Native of Mississippi

Mississippi State University: B.S., Horticulture
Ph.D. Horticulture
Louisiana State University: M.S., Landscape Architecture

Academic Career:
Louisiana State University: Former Director and Professor, School of Landscape Architecture

Southern Plants (Text used at LSU, other universities and professional offices)
Plants for American Landscapes (800 color images of plants)
Live Oak Splendor – Gardens Along the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans
Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens
The Bountiful Flower Garden

Landscape Consultant:
Afton Villa, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Rosedown Plantation Historical Site, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Biedenharn Foundation ElSong Gardens, Monroe, Louisiana
Bocage Plantation, Darrow, Louisiana

American Society of Landscape Architecture

ONLINEPLANTGUIDE.COM (over 17,000 color images of ornamental plants with search engine to identify plants for particular landscape needs)

re: Dr. Odenwald

Monday, October 25th, 2010

We encourage visitors to ask questions of Dr. Odenwald. He is a vast repository of information and will be participating in our blog at Bocage. We are delighted to have his expertice.

M. Rundell M.D., Owner
Bocage Plantation

Dr. Neil Odenwald Joins Bocage for Landscaping Expertise

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

We are excited to announce that Dr. Neil Odenwald has joined with Bocage Plantation to take us to a new level of landscaping that would not have been possible without him.  We are delighted that he will be advising us as to the proper way of developing landscapes for a 19th Century Plantation.

Posted in News | 2 Comments »
Bocage Plantation: Lodging where elegance and history meet
September 23rd, 2010

By: Jamie Rhein

When walking through the doors of the mansion at Bocage Plantation in Louisiana, “I do declare!”  is an appropriate response. Here’s what an eye for elegance paired with money can do. Bocage, once a sugar cane plantation and now a bed an breakfast, is an architectural and historical gem that excudes classy luxury where even us common folk can feel comfortable.

Considered one of the best examples of American Greek Revival architecture in the United States, the Bocage mansion, built in 1837, is filled with gorgeous period antiques and art. The result is a splendid B & B that doubles as a tourist attraction. The pieces, collected by Bocage’s current owner Dr. Marion Rundell, a native Louisianan who lives in Texas, serve as the furniture and decor for guests to enjoy.

This splendor on the banks of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans offers the opportunity to sleep in a bedroom fit for Scarlett O’Hara—-before all her woes.

Although most of the furnishings are circa mid-1800s, the private bathrooms are 21st century, as is the high speed Internet and flat screen TVs.

Rundell leaves Bocage’s brand of southern hospitality to staff who welcome guests with a glass of wine upon arrival, evening snacks and breakfast served on Limoges china.

Each of the four bedrooms have their own allure and private bathroom. During your stay, go upstairs for a view of the levee from the expansive porch balcony. Back in the day, when the fields were filled with sugar cane, there was a straight shot to the river that once bustled with trade. The levee was built to hold back floods.

If you can’t swing the hefty sticker price of an overnight stay, you can still tour the mansion for a $20 fee. The tour is an informative look at European art and furniture of the period and a chance to peek inside the lives of people with big money. Do mind your elbows and don’t sling a large bag around. That figurine on an end table is a collector’s piece.

Still, despite the finery, the ambiance says relax into the finer life. Make yourself at home. Plus, this is where spending days at a slower pace is clearly worth the effort.

If You Go:
Bocage Plantation
39050 Highway 942
Darrow, LA 70725

Tours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 – 5 p.m.
$20.00 per person, no charge for children under 12
Group Discounts Available
Call (225)588-8000 for appointment.

*I visited Bocage as part of a press trip courtesy of Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The mansion is truly, truly lovely. That is my opinion.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association.

Why Use Bocage Plantation for Your Louisiana Meetings and Special Events?

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

From weddings to fundraisers, all types of events can be held at the historic Bocage Plantation.

If you’re looking for a venue for your next special event, you have a lot of options. You can go the typical route and host your Louisiana meetings and special events in the local conference hall or chain hotel. That’s fine, but if you’re looking to make your event one that people actually want to go to…one that people will remember for years to come, you should consider hosting it at the historic Bocage Plantation. What’s the Bocage Plantation? It’s a National Historic Landmark right here in Louisiana, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This historic treasure boasts beautiful architecture and amazing grounds that look like something from a Hollywood movie. And for good reason, since this gorgeous property has actually been used as a Hollywood movie set,and it’s well documented in a number of popular books.
What kind of Louisiana meetings and special events can you hold at the 200-year-old Bocage Plantation? Here are just a few of the events regularly hosted at the stately mansion.

* Weddings—From small, intimate weddings to grand weddings with hundreds of guests, Bocage Plantation can host weddings of all sizes. The classic style and vintage architecture of this mansion deliver the perfect romantic setting for your big day. Bocage Plantation even has a wide variety of menu options for completing the wedding experience.
* Receptions—Even if you don’t have your wedding at Bocage Plantation, you can host your reception here. The beautiful mansion is the ideal venue for fine dining, dancing, and other common wedding reception activities.
* Bridal showers—Want to get together with the girls before your wedding? Treat yourselves to a fun, exciting night by hosting your bridal shower at historic Bocage Plantation.
* Fundraisers—Want to make your fundraiser successful and memorable? Bocage Plantation is a unique setting that adds some excitement to your special event.
* Holiday parties—From Christmas parties to New Year’s celebrations, Bocage Plantation is the perfect spot for your next holiday party. It’s a classy environment that’s sure to be a fun party for your family and friends.
* Any other special event you can think of—Anniversary celebrations, corporate parties, you name it; no matter what kind of Louisiana meetings and special events you have in mind, Bocage Plantation can most likely host it.

Before you book your event, you should schedule a tour of the home and grounds. This lets you get a firsthand look at the historic location to make certain it’s the right venue for your next special event.

Remember, book early so you can save your date before someone else snaps it up!

General Manager,; 225-588-800

Louisiana Weddings at a Historic Bed and Breakfast

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

With over 200 years of history, Bocage Plantation is the ideal venue for all types of Louisiana weddings.

Whether you’re looking for a small, intimate wedding or a large gathering with all your family and friends, the historic Bocage Plantation is the ideal setting for all types of Louisiana weddings. What couple wouldn’t want to celebrate the best day of their lives at a National Historic Landmark with a romantic and gorgeous backdrop?
Here are just a few of the top reasons you and your partner should consider booking your Louisiana wedding at Bocage Plantation.

* All types of Louisiana weddings can be hosted here. Whether your wedding just has you and a few family members or you need to accommodate a huge crowd, Bocage Plantation is flexible enough to meet all your needs. From themed weddings to traditional weddings, Bocage Plantation can play host to any and all types of Louisiana weddings.
* Bocage Plantation has all the accommodations your family needs, and it’s close to other hotels for friends. The Bocage Plantation welcomes your wedding guests with open arms. Whether your family members want to make a trip out of it and stay at the bed and breakfast or they wish to stay at one of the numerous chain hotels located just minutes away, all the amenities your guests need are at their fingertips.
* You can use your own wedding planner. Bocage Plantation allows you to use your own wedding coordinator so you can plan a wedding that truly suits your taste. This allows you to use someone you know and trust to plan the greatest day of your life.
* A gorgeous wedding destination at a reasonable price. Unlike other gorgeous destination for Louisiana weddings, Bocage Plantation is actually very affordable to book. It’s a historic, beautiful locale that’s unlike any other place you can find.

Planning Louisiana Weddings
Want to make your wedding day one to remember? Of course you do. When planning your wedding, just follow these simple tips.

* Come visit Bocage Plantation. Not sure if Bocage Plantation is the right destination for your wedding? You can schedule an appointment to tour the home and grounds to make sure you’ve found the right wedding venue.
* Choose the menu you love. Bocage Plantation also has many different wedding menus to choose from so you can create the menu that you and your guests will love.
* Don’t stress. Everything will be fine. No matter which of the Louisiana weddings you decide to choose, you just need to remember to relax and have a great time. This is your day. Don’t stress out over all the tiny details.

No matter what type of Louisiana weddings you plan on having, you’re sure to have a great time when you book it at Bocage Plantation.

General Manager,, 225-588-8000

Why Stay at a Historic Louisiana Bed and Breakfast?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Luxurious plantation bed and breakfast offers a memorable experience that’s far different from its peers

When you think of bed and breakfast, you may think of quaint, modest homes where you can get a decent night’s sleep and a good breakfast in the morning before continuing down the road on your vacation. But the opening of a new, luxurious Louisiana bed and breakfast is shattering this old perception. The truth is the bed and breakfast industry has changed quite a bit over the years, and today, you can find exquisite bed and breakfast accommodations in historic mansions, where you and your loved one get to live like royalty.

As an example, Bocage Plantation was a historic property in Louisiana that had been ignored for many years.Recently, a Houston pathologist decided he wanted to purchase the property and restore it to its full former plantation beauty. The new owner of the historic 1837 mansion worked tirelessly to restore the historic house to its former splendor, and now it’s a Louisiana plantation B&B where guests can relax in an elegant setting and tour the beautiful house.

With the ushering in of this new, elegant bed and breakfast concept, many travelers will be wondering whether they should stay in a hotel or at a plantation bed and breakfast. Here are just a few of the advantages of staying at a historic Louisiana bed and breakfast like the Bocage Plantation.

* A unique experience—Let’s face it: Even the finest hotels are a little boring. Every hotel is basically the same, and it gets old after a while. Staying at a historic, upscale Louisiana bed and breakfast gives you an experience like no other. It’s like you’re traveling back in time to live like the 19th century elite. Luxurious period furniture and decorations take you to a totally different world, making the bed and breakfast more of a destination than just a place you go to rest at night.
* All the amenities you desire—When you stay at an elegant Louisiana plantation B&B like the Bocage Plantation, you’ll enjoy the finest amenities. From a full, hearty breakfast that’s made to order to high-speed Internet, everything you’d expect at a fine hotel is available in this unique, historic setting.
* A more intimate setting—Perhaps the top advantage of staying at a plantation bed and breakfast is that you aren’t surrounded by hundreds of other guests. The charm of the bed and breakfast is the intimate, romantic setting you and your loved one get to enjoy. It’s peaceful and relaxing, like living in your own 19th century mansion with staff who truly treat you like the special guest you are.

Make your next vacation one you’ll never forget by staying in a historic Louisiana bed and breakfast.


General Manager,; 225-588-8000