Visitors Guide to
Sainte Genevieve
Sainte Genevieve County, Missouri


"Missouri's Most Historic Town"

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While 1735 is celebrated as Ste. Genevieve's birth date, the village of Ste. Genevieve was established somewhere between 1722 and 1749. The first permanent European settlement in what now is the state of Missouri, the community was established as a trading outpost and was later settled by lead miners, farmers and fur traders. Before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the dominant architecture was French Creole with wooden homes built in several styles. Most of these homes feature galeries, or porches, surrounding the homes. These homes were gradually replaced by brick buildings as the American influence on the city took hold. Most of the earlier French structures are gone, but Ste. Genevieve holds the distinction of the having the largest concentration of French Colonial buildings in the country. In 2008 Sainte Genevieve was selected as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations.” Each year the National Trust for Historic Preservation selects 12 cities that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a commitment to historic revitalization. Sainte Genevieve’s strength was its preservation, with more than 150 pre-1825 structures. Three of these buildings - the Amoureux, the Bolduc, and the Guibourd-Valle houses - are open to the public. The Felix Valle Home is open to the public and demonstrates the effect of the American influence.

Ste. Genevieve’s newest trade is tourism and the town is the home to a large variety of antique and specialty shops. A number of Bed & Breakfasts and hotels provide exceptional lodging for those planning an extended stay. Many of these establishments are located in the National Historic Landmark District. There are many exceptional restaurants in Ste. Genevieve with choices ranging from fine dining to lighter fare.

Just north of town is the Ste.Genevieve-Modoc Ferry which the locals like to call "The French Connection." This ferry, two miles north of the Great River Road Interpretive Center on Main Street, takes vehicles and passengers across the Mississippi River to Randolph County, Illinois where visitors can experience more of French Colonial life at the Pierre Menard Home, Fort Kaskaskia, and Fort de Chartres. Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural Area are located west of town and provide its visitors with unique outdoor experiences.

There are special events held throughout the year and the historic downtown area is the focus of many of these events. The French Heritage Festival in June and Jour de Fête, held every August with French colonial activities and over 600 participating artisans and the French are just two of the events held in Ste. Genevieve that appeal to visitors from all over.

The Lewis and Clark Connection
"Set out this morning before sunrise, at 3/4 of a mile passed the mouth of a Small Creek Called Gabia, at the mouth of this Creek is the landing place for the Trading Boats of Ste. Genevieve…” William Clark made entries referring to Ste. Genevieve on November 28th and December 4th, 1803, both prior to and after the Corps of Discovery’s stay across the Mississippi at Kaskaskia.

Clark noted that Ste. Genevieve was also known as "Misar" (Miserre, French for Misery) probably because of the difficult times the early inhabitants faced including the flood of 1785 that forced the relocation of the entire town to its present location on higher ground. He also noted that he was informed that Ste. Genevieve was inhabited by about 120 families, principally French.

Visit our special Lewis and Clark Section to learn more about the Corps of Discovery’s experience during their stay in the Middle Mississippi River Valley. greatriverroad.com’s special coverage includes information on all of the region’s sites and events as well as supplemental articles relating to the expedition’s experience during the winter of 1803-04.

THE SAINTE FOR WHOM THE TOWN IS NAMED

Genevieve was born in 422 in the village of Nanterre near Paris. At a young age she decided on a religious life, and moved to Paris upon the death of her parents.

In the year 449 the Franks lay siege to the city of Paris. Genevieve led an expedition for the relief of the starving population. They brought back supplies and enabled the resistance to continue.

When Attila the Hun, in the year 451, threatened to march on Paris, the inhabitants decided to abandon the city which then occupied only a small island in the River Seine. Genevieve assembled the women of the town in church to fast and pray. She emerged to tell the Parisians: "Forsake not your homes for God has heard my prayers. Attila shall retreat." Attila did change his course to bypass Paris and Genevieve was credited with having averted the impending calamity.

This is why she was known as the patron saint of Paris. In making her the patron of this town the early French were undoubtedly calling upon her to protect them from the many trials and hardships which they faced in the wilderness.




   
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