Beautiful historic small town Ste. Genevieve is full to the brim with amazing architecture, old world culture, wineries, shopping, and history. Care has been taken to preserve the past, celebrated through re-creations, celebrations, and lots and lots of food. Let’s go on a little visit…
Ste. Genevieve is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri. It was founded by French Canadian colonists and settlers from the east and was named Saint Genevieve after the patron saint of Paris, the capital of France. This area has been known as New France, Illinois Country, and the Upper Louisiana Territory.
Indian Trading Post
During the early years, the Little Osage and Missouri tribes would often raid Ste. Genevieve and steal settlers' horses. However, relations improved with the Native Americans with the marriage of French-Canadian men to Native American women, the growth of the fur trade, and with other similar commercial dealings. Following the American victory in the Revolutionary War, some Shawnee and Lenape (Delaware) tribes migrated to the west side of the Mississippi and established villages south of Ste. Genevieve. The Peoria, another tribe that moved near Ste. Genevieve in the 1780s also had a peaceful relationship with the village.
In the 1790’s the Big Osage conducted repeated raids and killed some settlers as well as attacking the Peoria and Shawnee. The Spanish administrators wanted to attack the Big Osage but there were not sufficient French settlers to recruit for a militia to do so as the Big Osage had 1250 men in their village. In 1794, Carondelet, the Spanish governor at New Orleans, appointed two St. Louis brothers, Pierre Chouteau and Auguste Chouteau, to have exclusive trading privileges with the Big Osage. They built a fort and trading post on the Osage River in Big Osage territory. the raids did not entirely cease, but the rewards of commercial diplomacy and the fur trade improved things greatly.
"Pais des Ilinois" (Illinois Country) in 1717
Ste. Genevieve was actually under Spanish rule for more than 40 years. Following the defeat of the British in the French and Indian War, and the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, France secretly ceded the area of the west bank of the Mississippi River to Spain. The Spanish ruled with a light hand and often through mostly French-speaking officials. Throughout this time, Ste. Genevieve retained its French language, customs and character.
Map of current U.S. states that were completely or mostly located inside the borders of old colonial French Louisiana at the time of Louisiana Purchase
A great flood in 1785 forced the town to move from its location on the flood plain of the Mississippi River to its present location two miles north and about a half-mile inland
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, Anglo-Americans as well as German immigrants migrated to the village and although It became more oriented to trade and merchants, the villagers still retained much of their French culture.
Louis Bolduc House
The oldest buildings of Ste. Genevieve were all built during the Spanish rule in the late 18th century. Described as "French Creole Colonial", the most distinctive structures were "vertical wooden post" constructions where walls of buildings were built based on wood "posts" either dug into the ground or set on a raised stone or brick foundation.
One style was known as poteaux en terre, meaning "posts-in-the-ground". Three of the only five surviving poteaux en terre houses in the nation are in Ste. Genevieve. The other style was called poteaux sur sole, meaning "posts-on-a-sill," and most of the oldest buildings in the city are this style.
Louis Bolduc House
One of the oldest structures is the Louis Bolduc House, built in 1792. Bolduc originally built a smaller house in 1770 at Ste. Genevieve's first riverfront location, and though it was damaged by flooding, parts survived and were dismantled and moved north in 1795.
Front view of the Bolduc House
Bolduc incorporated these materials into his new and larger house, built in 1792–1793. Although maybe not lavish by today’s standards, the three large ground-floor rooms were a testament to Bolduc's wealth at the time. The house has been declared a National Historic Landmark, along with several other places in Ste. Genevieve.
Other homes of note that are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places include...
Jean-Baptist Bequette-Ribault House, 1790's
The Bequette Ribault House was built by Jean-Baptiste Bequette, Sr. in 1808. For more information on this historic landmark, go
The Guibourd House, also known as La Maison de Guibourd
The Guibourd House was built around 1806 and was the home of Jacques Jean Rene Guibourd and his family. This important historic house is the only one in Ste. Genevieve where the visitor can view and study 'up close' the Norman truss architecture that was employed at the time. It serves as a museum owned and operated by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, Inc., and displays a more refined version of the typical French Colonial home in the era and is finished with elegant French antiques. It stands as a memorial to its donor, Jules Felix Valle’. Go
for more information.
Felix Vallé House State Historic Site
This home was built in 1818 by Jacob Phillipson, a Jewish merchant from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1824, it became the commercial outlet and home of Felix Vallé and Odile Pratte-Vallé. It was built in the American-Federal style and today is furnished in the manner popular in the 1830s.
It also has a collection of artifacts showing the American influence on the French community that occurred after the Louisiana Purchase. It is a state-owned historic preserve comprising the Felix Vallé House and other early 19th-century buildings in Ste. Genevieve and it is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Also part of this historic site is he Bauvais-Amoureux House (1792), open seasonally, and the Dr. Benjamin Shaw House (1819).
Photograph of a 1936 Cabin Behind the Amoureaux House
Besides the historic sites and homes, the city of Ste. Genevieve also hosts the Ste. Genevieve Memorial Cemetery and the Ste. Genevieve Museum.
Ste. Genevieve Memorial Cemetery
The oldest cemetery in the state of Missouri, the Ste. Genevieve Memorial Cemetery was established in 1787, and is the resting place for important individuals to Ste. Genevieve’s history. Strolling through the cemetery among the ancient graves, you will find interpretive panels and architectural cemetery masterpieces. This National Landmark site is also managed and maintained by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, Inc. The cemetery is open daily with free admission.
Ste. Genevieve Museum
The Ste. Genevieve Museum is home to everything from Native American Indian artifacts, a scale model train, an 18th century French flute, and even some of John J. Audubon’s stuffed birds. It is located in the heart of the National Historic Landmark District, charges a small admission, and includes a gift/souvenir shop. Click
for more information.
After all of your site-seeing and museum touring, you might want to find a place to rest.
The Southern Hotel Bed and Breakfast
A 1790s building houses the oldest operating hotel in the United States west of the Mississippi. Featuring 9 Victorian rooms with period furnishings, antiques, artwork and handmade quilts, this B&B is just a minute's walk from the Felix Valle State Historic Site and only 1.5 miles from the Missouri River.
Room at Southern Hotel
Most of the rooms offer hand-painted claw foot tubs, and some of them have televisions. Complimentary breakfast is provided and common areas include a game room, dining room and two parlors. In addition, there’s an art studio in the garden. For availability and other information click
Inn St. Gemme Beauvais (c1848)
Other great historic inns and beds and breakfasts in the historic district of St. Genevieve include: Somewhere Inn Time, Main Street Inn (c1882), Inn St. Gemme Beauvais (c1848), Dr. Hertich's House (c1850), Steiger Haus Ste. Genevieve (c1910), The Rust Loft Apartment, and the Hubardeau Guest House (c1789).
Although the draw of so many historical sites and buildings is what might bring you here, there is also some pretty great shopping available. Main Street, Third Street and Merchant Street in the historic district of Ste. Genevieve are great places to start and feature the following and much more.
Sweet Things Sweet Shop, 242 Market Street
Ol'time candy & gift store, fine chocolates & confections, nostalgic candies, Jelly Belly products, fudge, Canus Goats Milk lotions & soap baskets & candy bouquets, plush, & gifts for all ages. Click
for more information.
Cafe Rust, 122 N Main St
Featuring freshly ground pour-over coffee, and sweet and savory pastries. Located inside the Rust shop on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At Rust you can find beautiful, hand-crafted, repurposed decor. Also take a look at Only Child Originals for hand-crafted jewelry.
Including Cafe Rust, there are 10 eateries in the historic district.
Old Brick House, 90 South 3rd Street
The Old Brick is the oldest brick house west of the Mississippi. Visit them for fine dining, steak and seafood, including the famous 40-ounce steak. Daily luncheon buffet is also available.
for more information.
You should also check out St. Gemme Beauvais for classic French cuisine, or Station 2 Cafe', located in the old Ste. Genevieve Fire Department building.
In addition to delicious food, you can also find a total of 11 different wineries in the area.
Ste. Genevieve Winery
Ste. Genevieve’s oldest winery handcrafts small lots of over twenty different wines, producing award-winning varietal wines and an array of fruit wines for your enjoyment. This fourth generation wine family crafts wine from their own vineyards just west of town. Their tasting room, located in the heart of Ste. Genevieve's historic district, provides a relaxing experience under the shade of their grape arbor. You can also browse their wine related gift shop. Click
for more information.
Ste. Genevieve continues to celebrate its French cultural heritage with numerous annual events including: La Guiannée, a celebration associated with Christmas; French Fest, Jour de Fête, King's Ball and Ste. Genevieve Garden Walk, along with many others.
Felix Valle House, French Heritage Festival
French Fest occurs the second weekend each June in the historic district displaying living history, live traditional music, folk dancing, French foods, wine tasting, and re-enactors in period dress. There are historic home tours, a free street dance, promenades (parades) and children’s activities, walking tours, tea with 'Marie Antoinette' at the Guibourd and so much more!
Jour de Fete
The second full week each August, it’s time for the Jour de Fête, southeast Missouri's largest outdoor Crafts Fair. It is held in the heart of the historic district and vendors provide arts and crafts booths while you listen to live music, taste a sampling of foods, and take in the many living history demonstrations at this family-friendly event.
In addition to all of this, there is so much more to enjoy in Ste. Genevieve.
Civil War Reenactment
Civil War demonstrations, antiquing, recreation and outdoor activities, and so much more...it will take you more than one visit to see it all.
Cirkut view of Ste. Genevieve, date unknown
It is amazing that this little town (population 4,410) has been able to preserve so much history and culture for so very long. It's admirable that they have made a concerted effort towards visitors being able to go visit the past...at least for a little while...
Map of historic district
And finally, in conclusion, this nice video goes into a little more detail about the historic structures in the town.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.