Attractions along the
French Colonial Country Region
The region along the Mississippi River south of St. Louis is French Colonial Country. The area was first colonized by the French in 1699 and includes the Missouri Counties of Sainte Genevieve and Jefferson and the Illinois Counties of Saint Clair, Monroe, and Randolph. Ste. Genevieve has more than 150 pre-1825 structures and many are open to the public giving it the largest concentration of French Colonial architecture in the North America and its Historic District has been designated a National Landmark. Across the Mississippi River the restored Fort de Chartres is the Mississippi Valley’s premier site for French Colonial reenactments. Arts and culture can be found in Sainte Genevieve’s artist community and the collection of renown Southern Illinois sketch artist Roscoe Misselhorn in Sparta. Visitors can get back to nature at Pickle Springs Natural Area and Randolph County Conservation Area.
Sainte Genevieve has the largest concentration of French Colonial architecture in North America and includes the Bolduc House, the Amoreaux House, and the Maison Guibourd- Vallé. The influence of the American expansion into the area in the 19th century can be seen at the Felix Vallé State Historic Site. Nearby Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural area offer nature lovers unique hiking opportunities.
Located across the Mississippi River from Sainte Genevieve, Randolph County is where Illinois began. Attractions include Fort de Chartres, the Pierre Menard Home and the Fort Kaskaskia State Historic site.
The drive along the Great River Road through Monroe County features the rich farmland of the American Bottom, the tree-lined streets with the century-old buildings of its towns, and a number of historic sites that preserve the strong German and French heritage of the residents. The area also features a number of areas preserving and protecting nature.
The attractions of St. Clair County reflects its rich and varied history. Discover French colonial life at Cahokia, the first European settlement on the Mississippi River. The city of Belleville offers visitors a diverse range of attractions that includes the William & Florence Schmidt Art Center, the new Labor & Industry Museum and the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
Visitors to Jefferson County can explore the prehistoric lifestyles of Native Americans at Mastodon State Historic Site and Washington State Park. Other attractions include one of the last remaining covered bridges in Missouri at Sandy Creek Bridge State Historical Site and the Anheuser Estate in Kimmswick.