AAA Magazine ranked the top Christmas towns in the Midwest. Ste. Genevieve came in at #2! Considering a Holiday Getaway? Check Out These Charming Small Towns (aaa.com)
Party like its 1745 in the old French village of Ste. Geneviève where the new blends with old traditions during the Holiday Christmas Festival on the first full weekend in December. On Saturday, December 4, festivities kick off with a parade led by Santa, followed by shopping opportunities and open houses honoring French Christmas traditions. On Saturday afternoon, the Felix Vallé House State Historic Site, which dates to 1818, re-creates Le Réveillon—a traditional feast usually served after midnight Christmas Mass that includes 13 desserts honoring Jesus and his disciples.
Then return to Ste. Geneviève on December 31 for La Guignolée, a French New Year’s Eve tradition. Follow costumed La Guignolèe revelers as they march to select sites in town and sing a beggar’s song for drinks and favors. The party continues at their final stop, the Centre for French Colonial Life, and participants welcome the New Year.
French Colonial America (FCA) unveils “Saving St. Louis,” an exhibit explaining the role of the 60 militiamen who traveled upstream and were instrumental in thwarting the British attack on May 26, 1780, opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8 at the Centre for French Colonial Life.
Militia and living history specialists will be on site for the opening and every Saturday throughout the summer.
The “Saving St. Louis” exhibit features original and reproduction weapons and equipment used in this region by both French and Native American peoples during the late 18th century. Additionally, militia reenact and professional photographer Ronald Rayfield recreated scenes of the 60 Ste. Genevieve fighters at the battle to help visualize the story.
“It may come as a revelation to many visitors, even those who are familiar with the American Revolution, that the story of the Battle of St. Louis and the role played in it by citizen soldiers from Ste. Genevieve, is not as commonly known as it deserves to be,” FCA Executive Director Geoff Giglierano said.
The Centre for French Colonial Life is the museum building and entry point for FCA’s historic campus. The campus also offers hourly guided tours of the historic Louis Bolduc House (circa 1788) and Bolduc-LeMeilleur House (circa 1820) and grounds as well as the “Hands-On History” program at the Beauvais-Linden House (circa 1820).
The campus is owned by French Colonial America, a recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit.
May 8 activities also include “Tunes, Tomahawks & Tours,” with live music, tomahawk-throwing and activities at the Linden House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $3 cash only.
The Centre for French Colonial Life will be open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until further notice. Admission for the exhibit is $5 per adult, $3 for children, and free to military members with an ID. The Centre for French Colonial Life is located at 198 Market Street in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Ample free parking is available behind the facility.
Follow www.Facebook.com/CFCLandBolducHouse for further information and updates.
Do you love eating chocolate and shopping? Then this event is for you! Join in the delicious fun on the first Saturday in February in historic downtown Ste. Genevieve. With the purchase of a ticket, you will be able to sample a yummy chocolate treat at each participating shop while you explore the unique items for sale! Only 300 tickets are available, and they always sell out in advance. To purchase a ticket go to: www.downtownstegenevieve.org. This event is sponsored by Downtown Ste. Genevieve.
Aida Frey from the Chicago area visited Ste. Genevieve on December 29, 2020, making her 345th stop at a national park.
Frey is a participant in and a proponent of the NPS Junior Ranger program. Her business card calls her the “Sweetheart of the National Parks.” She posts about her travels on Facebook (Junior Ranger Aida Frey), Twitter (@jrranger) and Instagram (@juniorrangeraida). She also has a written a book, “America, Can I Have Your Autograph?”
Frey and her family stopped through Ste. Genevieve during a trip that also included three national trip stops in Texas — Big Bend National Park, Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, and Fort Davis National Historic Site.
The Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park was established as the 422nd unit of the National Park Service on October 30, 2020. There now are 423 national park units.
The National Park Service keeps adding parks, however, and Kovalski keeps traveling.
Monday, December 14, marks 1,211 days since the Great American Eclipse of 2017, and 1,211 days to the next total solar eclipse for Ste. Genevieve — on April 8, 2024.
A solar eclipse did take place on Monday, December 14, and it was viewable in Argentina and Chile in South America.
Ste. Genevieve was included in the path of totality on August 21, 2017 — the first time that was the case since perhaps the 1400s.
The St. Louis area had not previously been on the centerline for a total solar eclipse since 1442, and St. Louis won’t be on the centerline for the 2024 eclipse.
The 2024 centerline will cross the United States from Texas to the northeast. The north edge of the centerline will not extend as far up as Festus but it will include Ste. Genevieve County.
As the northern end of the centerline, Ste. Genevieve will have about 2 minutes of totality; Cape Girardeau will have about 4 minutes as the midpoint of the centerline.
Ste. Genevieve had more than 2 1/2 minutes of totality in 2017 by being at the midpoint of the centerline and near the point of longest duration in Southern Illinois.
In 2017, Ste. Genevieve hosted a one-day musical festival leading into the eclipse event, and a viewing event took place at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center.
For more information on the 2024 eclipse, click here.
Forbes magazine had a story about the halfway as well.
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and U.S. Representative Jason Smith on Friday [October 30] announced that U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt has completed the final step to formally establish the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park.
Blunt and Smith led the legislation, which was signed into law in March 2018, to establish the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park and designate it as a unit of the National Park System.
This is the first National Historical Park to be established in Missouri.
View the complete news release from Senator Blunt’s office here.
To view the release from the Department of the Interior, click here.
Ste. Genevieve’s Holiday Christmas Festival — one of the largest such celebrations in Missouri — will take place this year … with some modifications to address COVID-19.
The event returns for its 36th year with the ever-popular parade on Saturday, December 5, and more than a dozen concerts taking place over the two days.
Masks will be required at all indoor concerts and lectures per request of the musicians and speakers. Masks also will be required at the Lions Park Spectacular, where children can have their photographs with Santa and Mrs. Claus taken under social-distancing guidelines.
Event organizer Annette Rolfe said the many musicians who offer entertainment annually at the event looked forward to coming back this year.
“Everyone is really on-board,” Rolfe said. “All they want is the precautions. If we follow the rules, we can make this work.”
Rolfe emphasizes that the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department strongly suggests wearing a mask at public venues.
Parade participants will be allowed to throw candy as they usually do, though masks and gloves are being encouraged for those who do.
The parade route from the Valle Catholic Desert to Third Street to Market to Main to Washington to Second to Merchant and back to the desert is long enough to encourage social distancing for parade-watchers. It will kick off the festival at 11 a.m.
The Lions Park Spectacular beginning at noon will include hot chocolate, hot dogs and chili in addition to free photos with Santa. Children eat free when accompanied by an adult. Music will be provided by Vernon Flieg, the first of many musical performances on the weekend.
Christmas crafts for children will be offered by Ste. Genevieve artist Diane Wilson beginning at noon at the Orris Theatre. Masks will be required and social distancing will be observed.
The indoor music venues also will observe social distancing with seating limitations.
The musical performances on Saturday afternoon feature an acclaimed group of performers, Concerts will be given by the Joyful Sound Ringers handbell choir, Southeast Missouri State University professor Matt Palisch on the pipe organ at the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the Southeast Missouri String Quartet, the Isaac Lausell Trio, Adele Martin and Bluesette, saxophonist Gerry Huggins and guitarist Stormy Bennett. In addition to the Catholic Church, venues include Holy Cross Lutheran Church, the First Presbyterian Church, the Orris, and the Jean-Baptiste Valle House, which serves as the headquarters for the newly established Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park.
Huggins will play at the 18th-century Jean-Baptiste Valle House on Saturday, as will Martin and Bluesette.
Martin was born in Belgium and now lives in Illinois. She bills her sounds as French cafe music. “You’ll feel like you’re on the Left Bank [of Paris],” Rolfe said.
Bennett, from Ste. Genevieve, has played gospel and patriotic music at events and shows throughout the region.
In addition to the concerts, French Colonial America director Geoff Giglierano will portray a French priest in a program exploring the importance of faith in colonial communities.
The Guibourd-Valle House, owned and operated by the Foundation for Restoration, will host an open house Saturday evening from 4 to 6 p.m. with colonial decorations and live music.
At the same time, Music Art Love will feature live music by Academy Hill.
All of that activity Saturday leads into the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. outside the Welcome Center. Gary Scheel will emcee the event. Les Chanteurs Francais with Bill and Patti Naeger will perform, along with the Ste. Genevieve High School Madrigal Choir.
The First Presbyterian Church will host its Live Nativity scene beginning at 6 p.m., and carols will be sung outside the church.
Sunday’s schedule includes afternoon concerts by violinist Megan Heithaus, Lausell on guitar and renowned harpist Amy Camie leading up to the 4 p.m. finale featuring the Ste. Genevieve Muncipal Band Wind Ensemble in the Church of Ste. Genevieve.
Lausell, who teaches at the Southern Illinois University School of Music in Carbondale, has been a festival mainstay. He teams with professor Jimmy Beers and Dr. Richard Kelly for the modern jazz trio on Saturday and then performs selections spanning 500 years of French, Italian, Spanish and American music with his classical guitar performance on Sunday.
Heithaus, who has been part of the event for 13 years, performs in the string quartet on Saturday afternoon and then provides the music at the Guibourd-Valle on Saturday night before returning to play solo on Sunday afternoon.
Camie is new to the Holiday Christmas Festival. She is a certified clinical musician and spiritual harpist who will weave together holiday favorites in a seamless tapestry that wraps you in the spirit of Christmas.
Following her 3 p.m. performance in the Church of Ste. Genevieve, the municipal band’s wind ensemble will perform a concert of traditional Christmas music that also will get listeners into the Christmas spirit.
Also on the weekend, the Ste. Genevieve Art Guild will have its Christmas show in its new building on the Courthouse Square and the new Museum Learning Center will have Christmas displays in its courtyard.
“My goal is that people feel safe,” Rolfe said. “Even in this time, we want to have a magical place that people can come to and have a wonderful experience.”
For more information on the event, go to www.visitstegen.com.
Saturday, December 5
— FREE Christmas Parade, Ste. Genevieve Historic District.
— Lions Park Spectacular, FREE pictures with Santa (Masks Required), Market Street. Hot chocolate, hotdogs, and chili. Kids under 12 eat FREE, when accompanied by an adult. FREE Vernon Flieg performs traditional country, rock and Christmas tunes.
— FREE Christmas Crafts for Children by Diane Wilson (Masks Required) at the ORRIS, 265 Merchant Street, ENDS AT 2:00 p.m.
1 to 1:45 p.m.
— FREE pipe organ concert, and Joyful Sound Ringers directed by Matt Palisch, Professor of Organ for SEMO State University and Director of Music for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, MO. The Joyful Sound Ringers perform both at St. Paul’s worship service and also special concerts and workshops associated with the hand bell association of St. Louis. Program includes Christmas carols by the ringers and organ solos at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place. ONE CONCERT ONLY.
— FREE Southeast Missouri String Quartet concert performed by accredited directors, teachers and symphony performers at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 200 Market Street, featuring Baroque, Classical, and Romantic period Austro-German music.
— FREE The Isaac Lausell Trio, modern jazz with standards in Latin music featuring award winning Dr. Isaac Lausell from SIU School of Music, Carbondale, Professor Jimmy Beers, and Dr. Richard Kelly, at the First Presbyterian Church, 160 S. Main Street.
— FREE Authentic French Café music, jazz, soul, blues, and Christmas tunes. Performed by Adele Martin and Bluesette at the Historic Jean-Baptiste Valle House, 99 S. Main Street.
2 to 2:45 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: String Quartet, Isaac Lausell Trio, and Adele Martin and Bluesette.
— FREE Matt Palisch, Professor of Organ for SEMO State University and Director of Music for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, MO will perform a solo pipe organ concert featuring multiple genres of music from Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Impressionistic to 20th and 21st Century Christmas tunes at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place. ONE CONCERT ONLY
— FREE French Colonial American Executive Director Geoff Giglierano portrays Pere Sebastian Louis Meurin in a “First Person” program that explores the importance of faith in 18th century French Colonial communities of upper Louisiana and the intersection of European and Native American spirituality, at DuBourg Centre, 305 Merchant Street. ONE LECTURE ONLY.
3 to 3:45 p.m.
— FREE saxophone solo performance by Gerry Huggins, featuring contemporary, smooth jazz, and holiday music at the Jean-Baptiste Valle House, 99 S. Main Street.
— FREE acoustic guitar concert performed by Stormy Bennett specializing in thumb rhythm and melody at the ORRIS, 265 Merchant Street.
4 to 4:45 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: acoustic guitar and saxophone.
4 to 6 p.m.
— FREE Guibourd House hosts an open house at Fourth and Merchant Street featuring a display of Colonial Christmas decorations. Baroque period solo violin performance by Megan Heithaus. ENDS AT 6 p.m.
— FREE Blue Grass music performed by Academy Hill at Music Art Love, 199 N. Main Street. ENDS AT 6 p.m.
— FREE Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, at the Welcome Center, 66 S. Main Street, featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus. Performances by Les Chanteurs Francais with Bill & Patti Naeger, SGHS Madrigal Choir, and hosted by Gary Scheel.
— FREE Live Bethlehem Nativity Scene, First Presbyterian Church, 160 S. Main Street. Christmas carols will be sung outside the church.
— Lynn, Jack, and Jen Trio performing pop standard’s from the 30’s to the 70’s, with a little country and Broadway at Audubon’s Grill and Bar, 9 N. Main Street.
Sunday, December 6
12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
— FREE violin solo performance, performed by Megan Heithaus, featuring Impressionistic period music, at the Welcome Center, 66 S. Main Street.
— FREE classical guitar concert performed by renowned artist Dr. Isaac Lausell, DMA, SIU School of Music, Carbondale, featuring 500 years of French, Italian, Spanish, and American music at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 200 Market Street.
1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
— Repeat of above concerts: Violin and Classical Guitar.
— FREE renowned artist Amy Camie performing unique solo harp interpretations in her program “Embracing the Spirit of Christmas” weaving together holiday favorites in a seamless tapestry that gently opens the heart and lovingly wraps you in the spirit of Christmas at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, 49 DuBourg Place.
— FREE Ste. Genevieve Municipal Band Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church at 49 DuBourg Place.
Saturday and Sunday
— Ste. Genevieve Art Guild Christmas Show will be open at the historic “Museum” building, 310 Merchant Street. Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
— The Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center will have Christmas displays in their Courtyard, 360 Market Street. 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
— Visit historic sites, museums, art galleries and shops.
MASKS REQUIRED AT ALL INDOOR CONCERTS AND LECTURES PER REQUESTS OF THE MUSICIANS AND SPEAKERS!
The Ste Genevieve County Health Department strongly suggests wearing a mask at public venues.
The Daily Journal reported on the October 16 soft opening for the Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center.
The facility at 360 Market Street features items from the Darrough Collection, which includes dinosaur sculptures, and items related to Ste. Genevieve history from the old museum.
The Museum Learning Center currently is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission includes a ticket to return when more of the museum is open.
Read the Daily Journal story here.
The Daily Journal published a story about the Octane Tour’s visit to Southeast Missouri during the weekend of September 11 to September 13.
The tour attracts dozens of car enthusiasts in the St. Louis area for weekend getaway drives. This year’s drive featured Ste. Genevieve County and its wine country.
Several classic cars stopped in Ste. Genevieve on Friday, September 11, and parked at downtown parking lots.
Organizer Matt Burcham was impressed with Ste. Genevieve, telling the Daily Journal:
“The response that the Ste. Genevieve businesses had with us coming into town was crazy. Everybody had handmade signs welcoming the Octane Tour.
River Rapids Waterpark at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center was featured recently on onlyinyourstate.com.
The park’s final day of the 2020 season is Labor Day, Monday, September 7.
Click here to see the story.
A number of programs will be taking place in Ste. Genevieve the weekend of August 14 to August 16 as part of the first Summer Showcase. Local residents and visitors both are encouraged to enjoy what the region has to offer … and to practice social-distancing and take safeguards to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The showcase is an opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy activities at the historic downtown attractions and the community center campus. Shops and restaurants also may have special events and sales taking place this weekend. Many of the events are outside, allowing for social distancing practices. For instance, the downtown walking tour series that began in early June will continue this weekend and include two evening tours.
Walking tours are set for 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The tours are offered by the National Park Service, Missouri State Parks, the Foundation for Restoration, and French Colonial America. The tours cover about one-half mile in the downtown and take 30 to 45 minutes.
Among the highlights of the tours this weekend: the evening tour on Friday features Ste. Genevieve’s historically documented scandals, while the Saturday evening tour talks about life in Ste. Genevieve from cradle to grave and focuses on the Church of Ste. Genevieve and Missouri’s oldest organized cemetery. Saturday morning is the debut of a tour focusing on natural disasters.
The tours offer an alternative for those who want to experience Ste. Genevieve’s history without going into the buildings, though those are open as well.
The Guibourd-Valle House (1 N. Fourth St.) will have an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday.
Ste. Genevieve’s German Band, a division of the Municipal Band, will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on the corner of Main and Merchant streets as part of the Saturdays in Ste. Genevieve series.
French Colonial America will have a tomahawk-throwing competition on Saturday. Entry is included with $2 admission to the Linden Hands-On History House (125 S. Main St.). Prizes will be awarded in various divisions. Activities on the French Colonial America campus also will include outdoor games from the colonial period in the yards of the Bolduc and LeMeilleur houses.
French Colonial America also will have a free croquet course and yard games at the Bolduc House and a free exhibit and bread-making demonstration at the Centre for French Colonial Life.
The Ste. Genevieve Milice will be stationed in downtown for a living history exhibit.
The Guibourd-Valle House will be serving tea and lemonade in its garden on Saturday.
Saturday also will see food trucks in downtown, with Kenny’s Flipping Burgers from 2 to 6 p.m., and Luna’s Shaved Ice from 4 to 6 p.m. along Market Street near the intersection of Second Street.
The state-of-the-art River Rapids Waterpark on Progress Parkway will help cap the day with a rare night-time swimming event. The waterpark, which opened in July of 2019, will stay open until 9 p.m. and will offer twilight rates after 4 p.m.
Among the businesses that have announced plans for the weekend:
— Lewsi Winery (57 N. Main St.) will feature artists on Friday and Saturday during its regular hours from 2 to 6 p.m. Suzanne Thompson will demonstrate “enhanced pointillism” on Friday and answer questions while social distancing. Brenda Thompson will paint on Saturday and field questions from visitors.
— Sassafras Creek Originals (311 St. Mary’s Road) will be offer make-and-take Moravian Stars every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
— Sweet Things Sweet Shop (242 Market St.) will host the Ste, Genevieve Stompers dance group for 15-minute performances at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
— Music Art Love (199 N. Main St.) will host an acoustic night with Brianna Moore at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 15. The cover charge is $5.
— ASL Pewter Foundry (183 S. Third St.) will feature artist/jeweler Patti Zieche-Davisson on Saturday and Sunday.
— Harold’s Famous Bee Co. (234 Market St.) will be celebrating its 1-year anniversary with various promotions from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
— The artists of Silver Sycamore Gallery of Fine Art (302 Market St.) will be in the gallery during business hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
The Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Concert Series will conclude on Friday with Chattahoochee, a tribute to country music star Alan Jackson. The performance at the Orris Theatre begins at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through the chamber’s website (stegenchamber.org).
For car enthusiasts, there are two events on Saturday night.
The Gear HeadZ car club of Ste. Genevieve will host their monthly car cruise event on Third Street between Market and Merchant, The free event takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. All cars, trucks and bikes are welcome.
The Ste. Genevieve Racing Series will have its bi-weekly racing event on Saturday at the Ste. Genevieve County Fairgrounds. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for the grandstand.
Businesses and organizations in Ste. Genevieve have adopted precautions with regard to preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and the county has maintained a low level of active cases since the pandemic began. Masks are encouraged, as is social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Some businesses do require masks and/or limit the number of visitors.
For more updated information on the activities or businesses, contact the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center at 800-373-7007 or visit the VisitSteGen Facebook page.
(*Updated — The Luau on Main and the Movie Under the Stars have been canceled.)
STE. GENEVIEVE SUMMER SHOWCASE
LIST OF EVENTS
Friday, August 14
10:30 a.m. — Walking Tour: Creating a Creole Way of Life, from the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Silver Sycamore artists will be on site at their gallery, 302 Market St.
2 to 6 p.m. — Artist Suzanne Thompson at Lewsi Winery, 57 N. Main St.
4 to 6 p.m. — Open house at Guibourd-Valle House, 1 N. Fourth St.
6 p.m. — Walking Tour: Ste. Genevieve’s Historically Documented Scandals, from the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St.
8 p.m. — Concert: Chattahoochee, a tribute to Alan Jackson, part of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce Summer Music Series, at the Orris Theatre, 265 Merchant Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission $20 per person.
Saturday, August 15
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Make and Take Moravian Star, every hour at Sassafras Creek, 311 St. Mary’s Road.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Yard games (croquet, petanque, and more) in the yards of the Bolduc House/Bolduc-LeMeilleur House.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — ASL Pewter Foundry, 183 S. Third St., will feature artist/jeweler Patti Zieche-Davisson.
10:30 a.m. — Walking Tour: Natural Disasters, from the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — German Band performance at the pergola, Main and Merchant streets.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Tomahawk-throwing contest at Hands-On House, 125 S. Main St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Silver Sycamore artists will be on site at their gallery, 302 Market St.
Noon to 5 p.m. — Tea and lemonade in the garden of the Guibourd-Valle House, 1 N. Fourth St.
1:30 p.m. — Ste. Genevieve Stompers clogging dancers, at Sweet Things Sweet Shop, 242 Market St.
2 to 6 p.m. — Food truck: Kenny’s Flipping Burgers on Market Street, between Main and Second streets.
2 to 6 p.m. — Artist Brenda Thompson at Lewsi Winery, 57 N. Main St.
3 p.m. — Ste. Genevieve Stompers clogging dancers, at Sweet Things Sweet Shop, 242 Market St.
4 to 6 p.m. — Food truck: Luna’s Shaved Ice, on Market Street, between Main and Second streets.
4 to 9 p.m. — Twilight Swim at River Rapids Waterpark. (Twilight rates are $2 off daily rates: $5 for 62 and over, $6 for ages 13 to 61; $5 for ages 3 to 12; and free for under 2.)
5 to 9 p.m. — Ste. Genevieve Gear HeadZ car cruise, on Third Street between Market and Merchant streets.
6 p.m. — Walking Tour: Cradle to Grave, departing from the Guibourd-Valle House, 1 N. Fourth St.
6:30 p.m. — Ste. Genevieve County Racing Series, at Ste. Genevieve County Fairgrounds, Grandstand opens at 5 p.m.; hot laps at 5:30 p.m., $3 admission to grandstand.
7 p.m. — Concert: Brianna Moore, at Music Art Love, 199 N. Main St., $5 admission.
Sunday, August 16
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — ASL Pewter Foundry, 183 S. Third St., will feature artist/jeweler Patti Zieche-Davisson.
10:30 a.m. — Walking Tour: Enlightened Women of Ste. Genevieve, from the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St.
11:30 a.m. — Walking Tour: The Story of Pelagie Amoureaux, from the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St.
1 to 3 p.m. — Live music at Music Art Love, 199 N. Main St.
Editor’s Choice for Most Beautiful Town
Established in the 1740s, Ste. Genevieve was the first European settlement in Missouri, and much of its historic charm and ambiance is due to the remarkable preservation of the original French colonial settlement. Its narrow streets and fenced gardens surround dome of the most significant 18th century architecture in the nation.
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography courtesy of Ste. Genevieve Tourism.
In August 2014 I made my first multi-day trip to Ste. Genevieve (pop. 5,500), America’s Original French Colonial Village. Prior to that I had made a few stops for meals when returning home from St. Louis, one hour from Ste. Genevieve. Then in early September of this year I returned to Ste. Genevieve (or Ste. Gen as some call it). In fact, I can visualize having a small apartment there. Perhaps it’s my father’s French ancestry (Normandy, France) that keeps drawing me back to this charming city.
It has been listed on America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and most recently the scenic and charming Ste. Genevieve, Missouri’s oldest town, is now under consideration as a new National Park, according to Sandra Cabot, Director of Ste. Genevieve Tourism. “There has been a recommendation by the U.S. Department of the Interior that Ste. Genevieve be considered as a future National Historic Park site,” said Cabot.
In addition, the Green Tree Tavern along St. Mary’s Road that looks out over Les Grand Champs (The Big Field) is the oldest French colonial structure (1799) built by a French Canadian from Quebec. “This tavern played an important part in Ste. Genevieve’s story,” stated Cabot. “It celebrated its opening in September. By the spring of 2019 the tavern will be added to the list of tourist attractions in Ste. Gen. It will certainly be a grand addition. A huge structure, it is probably the most handsome and impressive structure from the outside of the building.”
“Fall is such a sweet and sentimental time and one of the best seasons for both weather and scenery. If you are looking for a weekend or mid-week escape, or if you need to rekindle your holiday cheer, you can be sure to find just what you’re looking for here!”
— Sandra Cabot, Director Ste. Genevieve Tourism
History Of St. Genevieve
Founded in 1735, St. Genevieve (Genevieve was the patron saint of Paris, France) is the oldest permanent European settlement in the state of Missouri. Established on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the village of St. Genevieve was settled about two miles south of its present location. The village was one of several important French communities forming a region known as the Illinois Country, part of the vast territory held by France in North America at the time. Many of St. Genevieve’s earliest residents were French Canadian habitants who farmed the rich, alluvial soil adjacent to the village. They also produced salt and mind lead from nearby sources.
World events impacted the inhabitants of Ste. Genevieve in 1762 when France ceded all its holdings west of the Mississippi River to Spain as a result of the French and Indian War. Despite the transfer and new Spanish government in the region, Ste. Genevieve retained its distinctive French character and language. The disastrous flood in 1787 triggered the gradual relocation of the village to higher ground to its present location between the forks of the Gabouri Creek.
Much of the charm and ambiance of historic Ste. Genevieve is due to the remarkable preservation of the original colonial settlement. Its narrow streets and fenced gardens surround some of the most significant eighteenth century architecture in the nation. These French Colonial style buildings were constructed from massive, hand hewn logs that were set vertically to form the walls of the home. Heavy timbers were mortised and pegged into sturdy trusses that supported the impressive double-hipped roof covering the house and its wide galleries or porches. Fascinating variations of this architectural style are found in the historic homes of colonial Ste. Genevieve as well as in Quebec, Canada and Normandy, France.
As the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 propelled Ste. Genevieve into another chapter in history, its French speaking residents suddenly found themselves citizens of the newly expanded United States. Soon the rush of Americans into the Louisiana Territory left its mark in Ste. Genevieve as well. Today there is a curious mix of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century architecture found in Ste. Genevieve. Mid-nineteenth century German immigrants left their legacy of charming rock and brick homes and stores through the community.
Today Ste. Genevieve’s National Landmark Historic District offers visitors an unparalleled glimpse into its colonial past.
Did You Know?
Ste. Genevieve is Missouri’s first settlement, founded by the French in the early 1700s.
Named by “Country Living Magazine” as One of the 50 Most Beautiful Places in America
Ranked 3rd by “Only in Your State” as one of the 17 Most Charming Towns in America
Late afternoon on Friday, September 1 (Labor Day weekend) I arrived at the Ste. Genevieve Great River Road Welcome Center. There I picked up literature including my itinerary, B&B info, a Visitor’s Guide, a Wine Country map, Hiking Trails map, French Colonial brochure and an Historic District map. Then I watched a short video of the city as I had not seen it in several years.
At 5 pm I checked in at the Main Street Bed & Breakfast located at 221 N. Main Street where I was warmly greeted by Innkeeper Jean Sellberg (Her personality is well suited to inn keeping.) She assigned me the Trope Ricard Room upstairs, which has a porch outside the room that during certain hours is a private porch.
Originally built in 1882 as the Meyer Hotel, the Main Street Inn B&B has long been considered one of Missouri’s finest bed and breakfast establishments. Having recently undergone an extensive year-long renovation, the new owner (Dr. Susan McDonald) and innkeeper Jean Sellberg are thrilled to re-open this inn.
My guest room was attractively furnished and had all of the necessary amenities. Upon arrival wine and cheese were offered, and the breakfast the next morning was excellent. Late Saturday afternoon refreshments were served in the parlor to the inn’s guests.
Website: www.mainstrinn.net; phone: 573-880-7500
About an hour later a friend and I strolled two blocks to dinner and en route we popped into Only Child Originals (jewelry designer and metal arts sculptures) and peeped in the windows of other shops.
Our dinner at Audubon’s Bar & Grill (9 North Main), which as I recall was being rehabbed on my previous visit to Ste. Genevieve, was excellent. Regional dining specialties are offered at Audubon’s. The signature dish is Chicken Baetje (goat cheese, their spin on Cordon Bleu). After a delicious meal, I ordered a chocolate martini for a nightcap. Greg Ferguson, one of the four owners who restored the historic building built in 1903, warmly greeted my friend and me as did several of the other owners of this building. Breakfast is served only on Sunday from 10am-2pm. Lunch and dinner are offered Tuesday through Saturday.
A hotel with 8 guest rooms is scheduled to open upstairs this spring.
On Saturday, September 2 I awakened to a sunny, slightly chilly day. After a sumptuous breakfast with other guests in the large dining room, there was time to shop and discover some of the new shops that were not in Ste. Gen on my last visit. The shops include RUST on North Main; the Show-Me Shop, which is always busy and is a must-stop for me with cheeses and wines, culinary tools and cookbooks, as is European Entitlements with fine home and garden décor and beautiful coffee table books. Add to your shopping list the Belle Ever After Boutique near Main and Merchant and First Settlement Antique’s new location next door to Sara’s Ice Cream. I wandered up Merchant Street, stopping in at the revamped gift shop of the Felix Valle State Historic Site, and the new shop RustikSandKandles, and Simple to Sassy (corner of Merchant and 3rd).
Note the newly restored DuBourg Centre, a posh reception center owned by the Catholic Church of Ste. Genevieve.
What a gorgeous church this is! This Gothic-style brick church, which will seat 2,000 people, has beautiful stained glass windows, statues, marble altars and two paintings given to the church by King Louis XVI of France.)
One block away is a trio of new shops: What-Nots and Oddities (across from the Courthouse Square), Rhinehart and Rhinehart’s Art Gallery (a native of St. Gen recently returned after a storied career as an artist; the wall-sized paintings are astounding!) and the ASL Pewter Foundry on Third Street across from the Southern Hotel B&B. There you may watch the artisans at work and shop for lead-free pewter in original designs—some new and some dating to the 1700s. For lovers of vintage jewelry visit Steiger’s Estate Jewelry downtown on Merchant Street.
Ste. Genevieve Calendar Of Events
November 11: Cookie Crumb Trail
November 18: Harvest Celebration on the Route du Vin Wine Trail
December 1, 2 & 3: Holiday Christmas Festival
December 10: French Christmas at the Felix Valle House
Ste. Genevieve Wine Country
A short half hour drive from Ste. Genevieve is the wine country of Missouri. It is especially beautiful in the autumn.
“The wine country is a big tourism draw and it ties in to our local heritage, both of the French and subsequent German influence on wine making traditions,” said Sandra Cabot, Tourism Director. “The beauty of the combination of the wine country and the historic District, which is a national landmark historic district, is that it makes for a perfect 2-3 day visit. You can do the historic sites, the shopping, downtown activities in one day, the wine country the next, and beautiful hiking, biking and scenic tours. There are several hot spots for antiquing in St. Genevieve County. One is St. Mary’s Antique Mall, which can easily take two hours to wander down its aisles, and others are Schultz’s Antiques and First Settlements. Note: St. Mary’s, Missouri is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Ste. Genevieve.
There are 11 wine trails and 10 wineries and microbreweries. A new amenity that originated in 2016 is now available for private charters or on weekends you can reserve a seat and it will pick you up at your downtown Ste. Gen hotel or B&B and take you through wine country. Groups also reserve the trolley for historic district tours. Step-on tours are offered. For more information visit www.VisitStGen and follow the links to transportation (click on Vines to Wines).
Recently Chaumette Winery, owned by Hank Johnson, won several awards, as did Crown Valley. On my last visit I had the privilege of being a guest at Chaumette in a lovely private villa decorated with a Country French flair. I toured an historic on-site chapel and a special events barn, visited the Tasting room, and overindulged at lunch at the Grapevine Grill.
Mid-afternoon a friend and I explored the new parts of the Wine Country: Watertower Winery, Weingarten Winery and the Garten Haus Restaurant.
Back in town, even though I needed a nap at this point, I did more shopping in downtown Ste. Genevieve. One of my favorite quaint shops is Odile’s Linen and Lace, Etc., which features curtains, table laces, pillowcases and handkerchiefs; scarves, hats, jewelry, heirloom caps for babies, gowns and it even has Downton Abbey merchandise. My final stop downtown was the Sainte Genevieve Winery at 245 Merchant St. This shop is open daily from 11 am-5 pm, and it features a full line of premium and traditional wines and wine-related gifts. I purchased several Christmas gifts there.
On Saturday evening I enjoyed my guest room at the Main Street Inn, read and relaxed.
On the morning of my departure, a Sunday, after another delicious breakfast with convivial guests, I met the multi-talented Yvonne LeMire, owner of the Rosemary and Thyme Cooking School. She was preparing for a cooking class called “Ladies Who Lunch.” I was invited to participate, but my schedule did not permit me to do so. She graciously spent time with a friend and me in her lovely Country French home located next door to the Show Me Shop on Main Street.
On my way out of town I drove over to the Bequette Ribault House at 351 St. Mary Road to see the progress made since my last visit in 2014. Most days the owner has a tour guide to explain the history of the home and outbuildings.
As I departed the charming town of Ste. Genevieve, I knew I would return some day (soon, I hope). I am already looking forward to a return visit. Check out the busy Calendar of Events. How about going on the Cookie Crumb Trail in November or celebrating a French Christmas the first full weekend in December or “La Guignolee,” a French tradition on New Year’s Eve? Ste. Genevieve has captured my heart as it will yours.
When was the last time you saw a sky completely full of twinkling stars? Or heard cows lowing outside your bedroom window? Or tasted grapes fresh off the vine? If, like me, the answer is ‘never,’ shame on us. Especially since a short hour’s drive can put us smack dab in the middle of some of the prettiest countryside in the U.S.
Ste. Genevieve County, just 60 miles from home, combines natural beauty with more worldly attractions (about a dozen wineries and a French Canadian settlement dating to the 1740s) to offer a weekend getaway that will make you feel like you’ve been away much longer.
Our immediate destination was Chaumette Vineyards & Winery on State Rte. WW, a popular destination among St. Louisans who have likened it to French wine country. The changing fall colors, a quiet cozy retreat and a gourmet restaurant—that was enough for an overnight escape. Anything else would just be a bonus, I thought.
Turns out we got all that and then some. Chaumette proved to be an idyllic setting, with rolling hills all around. Its ‘villas,’ attractive suites built up on wooden piers to replicate the French architectural style found in historic Ste. Genevieve nearby, had wraparound wooden porches with views of the endless rows of grapevines. Inside, we lacked for nothing, from a walk-in closet to Kaldi’s coffee.[toggle]
A hike around the property took us past the large dining room and tasting room building, set high on a hill for optimum views of the rows of Chardonel, Norton and Vignoles vines, as well as nearby cow pastures. Past that, a small chapel nestled in the woods, ready for couples who want a country wedding (of which, apparently, there are many). Intending to do the entire 3-mile loop around Chaumette, we disappeared into the woods down a gravel path, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
About half a mile in, we came upon an adjacent winery/brewery, Charleville, known for its Hoptimistic IPA. Turns out we zigged when we were supposed to zag, or something like that. But we were on country time, and decided to just go with the flow—Charleville, it is. On a much smaller scale than Chaumette, it was built in the same year, 2013, and we sidled up to the thick wooden bar for a Strawberry Pale Ale, $1.80 a taste, $5 for a flight of five.
Back at Chaumette, it was time for one of the weekend’s highlights: dinner at Grapevine Grill, where CIA-trained chef Rob Beasley has gotten some buzz as far away as St. Louis. A native of Louisiana, he infuses the menu with Creole-Cajun flavors; do not miss the Louisiana Shrimp, whatever you do. The flourless chocolate cake, drizzled with port and caramel sauce and plump cherries, should be on your dessert radar, too. We walked the third of a mile or so from our villa to the dining room in the dark, hoping the enormous sea of stars would light our way. Alas, it’s pitch dark out there, even with starlight, so bring a flashlight.
Day two had its own agenda, with plans for some serious hiking in the gorgeous environs, followed by exploration of historic Ste. Genevieve until the homes closed or we dropped of exhaustion, whichever came first. The hike, a 1.5-mile loop around Pickle Springs Natural Area, was breathtaking, with water features, massive boulders called hoodoos and deep stone set-backs the park map dubbed ‘canyons.’ Bring hiking boots! It is as pretty a sight as I’ve seen, but with its own Midwestern forest character of lush woods and trickling water.
Be sure to give yourself enough time for the county’s jewel in the crown: historic Ste. Genevieve. Main, Market and Merchant streets have the lion’s share of tourable properties, but homes all around town proudly display wooden plaques with the date of their founding and the name of their original family. You’ll see many in the 1700s and 1800s, several of them open for touring (not necessarily every day, however): the Louis Bolduc, Felix Valle, Jacques Guibourd, Jean-Baptiste Valle, Bequette- Ribault and Bauvais-Amoureux homes. They’re French in origin, mostly built by French Canadians who traveled south down the Mississippi to escape persecution by the British or to seek better commercial opportunities.
As a living record of Missouri’s French colonial history, the town of Ste. Genevieve is a National Historic Landmark. It originated as a French colonial settlement, and in 1803 was sold to the fledgling United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Most homes built during the French colonial period, including many that visitors can tour, were constructed in a distinctive style typical of French Canada called vertical-log. The wooden beams are lined up vertically, unlike the horizontally stacked logs of the typical log cabin. Interestingly, Ste. Genevieve has the largest number of these vertical log homes in the U.S. And, it has three of the remaining five poteaux-en-terre homes in the entire country, structures that are supported by wooden columns anchored directly in the dirt. Also noteworthy: it is thought that the oldest rose garden in Missouri is here, behind the Jean-Baptiste Valle House (circa 1794).
Apparently the rose cuttings came from none other than Madame Therese Chouteau, considered the matriarch of St. Louis.
Established in the 1740s, Ste. Genevieve was the first European settlement in Missouri, and much of its historic charm and ambiance is due to the remarkable preservation of the original French colonial settlement. Its narrow streets and fenced gardens surround dome of the most significant 18th century architecture in the nation.
Ste. Genevieve gets national park designation, but much remains to do before it will open
STE. GENEVIEVE, MO. • The iconic National Park Service arrowhead emblem that directs visitors to famous national landmarks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, will eventually point tourists to a small Mississippi River town where French houses date to the 1700s.
The long-sought formation of the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park was approved by Congress and signed into law March 23. It authorizes the National Park Service to acquire about 13 acres, including historic buildings, for inclusion in the park about an hour south of St. Louis.
Getting the national park designation was the culmination of 20 years of effort that local officials hope will bring more tourists to the town of nearly 4,500.
Now comes the job of getting it open. When that will happen, likely a few years from now, and specifics about how it will function largely remain unknown.
“We want to see things happen at a fast pace, but I don’t think you can do that, especially when you’re dealing with the federal government,” said Paul Hassler, the town’s mayor for the past year. “There are things that have to be in place and it’s going to take some time.”
He and many others in Ste. Genevieve are bullish on the boost that a national park site will bring to the town, and are eager to work with the National Park Service to do what needs to be done.
Hassler was part of a group who went to Washington last fall to speak before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources to push for the designation. Three people from his Ste. Genevieve contingent dressed in traditional French garb, which is a familiar site around the town — its French colonial past is a core part of the town’s identity, and tourism is a vital part of the area’s economy.
The original Ste. Genevieve settlement was founded around 1735 — the first permanent European settlement in what is now Missouri. The town is famous for its historic buildings that have survived the centuries, especially those using “poteaux-en-terre” construction, which means “posts-in-the-earth” and refers to its vertical logs built directly on the ground. Ste. Genevieve is home to three such buildings, part of the largest concentration of colonial French architecture in North America.
Some of the town’s many old buildings already are owned by the state and private groups who give tours, and also by people who live in them.
Between 25,000 and 40,000 people visit the town each year, said Sandra Cabot, its director of tourism. She said that number is conservative, and could double once the national park is open.
“Even buying gas — everything contributes to the local economy,” she said of the expected spike in tourists.
Developing a timeline is the next step in getting the national park running, she said.
No land for the park has been acquired, and the soonest it could be funded would be next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, said Alexandra Picavet, a National Park Service spokeswoman.
Typically, a new park site would start with a budget of perhaps $150,000 with one staff member to spearhead the planning process.
“All new parks start small and grow over time,” she said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2016 that acquiring the land for the Ste. Genevieve park would cost about $335,000, and that state-owned property within its footprint likely would be donated to the park service. Privately owned property was expected to be purchased by the park service over five years.
The office also estimated the park service would spend about $1 million a year on maintenance and operating costs for the park after the property is acquired.
The Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park, under the current design, would be in two sections.
The smaller area would be a 4-acre parcel including the state-owned Delassus-Kern House on U.S. Highway 61. A resource study and environmental report released in 2016 calls it “a large example of vertical log architecture encased in late Victorian additions” that has been owned by the state since 1993. No significant stabilization has been done, the report said, partly because of work to learn more about the house’s origins and partly because of restoration costs.
The biggest portion would be about 2.5 miles away, on St. Mary’s Road just outside the town’s historic downtown. That area, about 9 acres, would include the state-owned Bauvais-Amoureux House, which is part of the Felix Valle State Historic Site, and adjacent properties, such as a former inn known as the Creole House.
That chunk of land also would cover the Bequette-Ribault House, which was restored by owner Hank Johnson, who also owns Chaumette Vineyards & Winery just outside of Ste. Genevieve.
Johnson gives tours and hosts wine tastings at the house, which dates to 1808 and is significant for its original Norman truss roof and poteaux-en-terre construction.
He is thrilled about the national park designation, and said he is interested in exploring a public-private partnership with the National Park Service for his site, which includes the Lasource-Durand cabin.
That could happen. Legislation authorizing the park encourages agreements between the park service and other landowners, said Picavet, the park spokeswoman.
“The energy and the interest the community has shown in this site is a great indicator of how we’ll be able to work together in the future,” she said.
Such a shared arrangement seems unlikely for a modern-day business like the Huck and Roth Garage, a boat-repair shop in the proposed national park’s boundaries.
Jerry Roth, who has owned it for more than 50 years, said he’ll wait to see if he gets an offer to sell to make way for the future park.
“I’ll have to make up my mind then,” he said.
Local business owners say the national historical park designation will highlight Ste. Genevieve’s charms.
The town seems to be hidden, said Judith Sexauer as she readied her art gallery and frame shop, Galleria Ste. Genevieve, for an art walk on a recent Friday. The building dates to 1860.
“There are people who just go to national parks,” she said. “I think this is going to add to getting us on the map in darker letters.”
Sara Menard is excited too. She’s president of the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, and owns Sara’s Ice Cream shop.
The foundation would keep its properties, including the Guibourd-Valle house, which it would continue to operate separate of the national park site. Menard is hopeful the foundation will benefit from the National Park Service being in town.
Nelson and Delia Nix of Oakville toured another historic building, the Felix Valle house recently. Both said Ste. Genevieve already had the feel of a national park, so much so that they asked for a National Park Service passport stamp after the tour.
The Valle house is set to remain state-owned, but the Nixes will be able to take another day trip south and get that stamp someday — whenever the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park opens.
House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping and Country Living
We’ve rounded up the cutest village in every single state. Ste. Genevieve, MO, ranks number 25 in our list of the 50 most beautiful small towns in America!