Founded in 1735 on the Mississippi River by the French, Ste Genevieve, MO, www.visitstgen.com , was gradually moved 2 miles North (after the Flood of 1785) to its present location. It is home to 3/5 of the remaining North American homes built in the French Colonial Style. Massive logs were set in the ground vertically, topped by mortised and pegged timbers (forming trusses) which supported hipped roofs and wide porches. This French architecture is called "poteaux-en-terre" and "poteaux-sur-sole". The three houses in St Genevieve are the Beauvois-Amoureux House, the Jacques Buibourd House, and the Bolduc House---each open to the public for a small fee. A further French connection is the St Genevieve MODOC Ferry (since 1798) which crosses the Mississippi River to Prairie Du Rocher, IL, and its old French forts.
After traveling an hour down I-55, your first stop should be the Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St, St Genevieve, MO, 63670, to pick up maps and view the Misselhorn drawings housed there. Next stop: park your car at the public lot (N. Main and Market Streets) where many vehicles had bikes/bike racks, buy a 60 cent Coca Cola from the sidewalk vending machine, and plot your route at the Rotary Club gazebo, complete with picnic table and built-in benches. The National Historic District downtown is easily walkable or bikable from here to Market, Merchant, Main and Third Streets. The District features numerous specialty shops, boutiques, and 8 restuarants with "homemade fare" in old brick buildings. From 1932-1941, Ste Genevieve was host to a nationally significant art colony and ten art galleries are also within walking distance. Galleria St Gen has used books, original art (watercolors, oils, and lithographs), as well as framing.
Ste Genevieve boast six hotels, ranging from the historic Hotel Ste Genevieve to the ultra-modern Microtel and Suites. There are also five bed and breakfasts. Finally, there are six vineyards nearby. Crown Ridge Winery boasts resident tigers and overnight accommodations. Chaumette Winery also boasts a spa and overnight accommodations.
I stolled the district, paying special attention to the art galleries. I stopped for lunch at Station 2 Cafe, 1 S. Main St, St Genevieve, MO, 63670, 573-883-3600. It was started by Beth Caldwell and her husband in a rehabbed fire station; a couple of pieces of fire paraphernalia line the walls above the couch, wing chair, and rocking chair. The homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and pies are made by Beth's mother, a retired restaurateur. The staff have dimples and use them liberally. For the "you pick two", I ordered a turkey with roasted red peppers on Ciabata bread and a Greek salad with a marvelous pesto vinaigrette. At $7.07 (including tax) the lunch was filling. I topped it off with one of the ten desserts, a slice of Turtle Pie made from cream cheese, whipped cream, almond extract, and caramel topping in a pastry crust. My self-serve coffee was poured into a mug and re-filled twice. As I waddled up to the cash register, I overheard the couple ahead of me say that they had been to a wedding last Saturday and were going to an "immersion" (baptism) on this Saturday. So whatever your reason (art, wines, history, antiques, relaxation at a B & B), take a 1/2 tank mini-vacation to St Genevieve, MO.