Among the first Europeans to call the region home were French-Canadian fur trappers, farmers, and miners who settled Ste. Geneviève. Although the founding date has been debated, many experts say it occurred in 1751. Flooding on the Mississippi River in 1785 forced the town to move about 3 miles inland, so none of the original structures remain.
Among its oldest buildings, the Louis Bolduc House dates to the late 1780s and is now a National Historic Landmark. Another home of note, open for tours, is the Felix Vallé House, a state historic site built in 1818. Recognizing the city’s rich history, the National Park Service established the Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park in October 2020. It offers walking tours of the historic district and of the Bauvais-Amoureux House, which dates to 1792.
Many of the old homes are now bed-and-breakfast inns or charming restaurants and shops, all open for the public to explore and experience a bit of Missouri’s early life. The French Heritage Festival over the second weekend in June celebrates Ste. Gen’s heritage, and the Jour de Fête outdoor craft fair is the second weekend in August.
Info: (573) 883-7097; visitstegen.com.