Oct 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Senior Visitors Love Ste. Genevieve

When senior citizens think of Colonial America, we generally think of the old parts of Boston,  lovely New England port towns such as Marblehead or Spanish colonial towns such as St. Augustine. America’s heartland has some colonial traces too. The best preserved and most distinct is the French colonial town of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Located about 60 miles south of St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve was one of the first permanent European settlements in what is now Missouri. French settlers came here in the early 1730s. The first years were tough ones. The town was poorly situated on the Mississippi floodplain and often got flooded, leading the poor Frenchmen to nickname their town Misère, meaning “misery.” Image that, “Misery, MO.”

Missouri’s Most Historic Town

Called “Missouri’s Most Historic Town,” senior visitors will find that this Mississippi River town looks very much like a French village. It was the first European settlement west of the Mississippi. It is selected as one of the Best Small Towns in America by Budget Travel Magazine and as you’ll soon discover, for good reason.

Why the name?

There really was a Ste. Geneviève who is the patron saint of Paris. So this small town was named after her. Ste. Genevieve, with French spelling, has a population of only 4,410 happy souls.
Ste. Genevieve’s newest trade is tourism and the town is the home to a large variety of antique and specialty shops.  Ste.Genevieve is a charming, laid-back town, where bicycles stand on the sidewalks without locks and people stroll in and out of inviting little shops filled with antiques, crafts, gifts, sweets and wine.

What they left behind

The original inhabitants built a series of what are called “poteaux-en-terre” or “posts in the ground” style colonial houses. Today you can still see the same style in Normandy, Québec and Louisiana. They are defined by their covered porches and timber beams. Jacques Guibourd House demonstrates what the building techniques were like. The Bolduc House Museum is a great introduction to this style where they make French colonial American history FUN.

You’ll be thrilled at all that you can do in such a small town. 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 senior 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 visitors with unique outdoor experiences.

Senior Cooks Discover Cooking School

Senior citizen cooks, how about spending a little time at the Rosemary & Thyme Cooking School? The school sits at one of the oldest sites in Missouri, the St. Gemme Beauvais House. Do consider spending at least one night at this B&B,  the oldest continuously operated bed and breakfast in Missouri. The Inn has earned a Three Star Mobil rating, has been a recipient of the Golden Star Award from Inn Style, Inc. and has been featured in Country Inns and Midwest Living magazines.

Do you enjoy wine tasting at a vineyard?  And events?  It no wonder that Ste.Genevieve received the award with all these events going on all-year around. Their “Jour de Fête” is big time in town with lots of French overtones.

While you are in the region…
You will probably be driving so consider the 28-mile drive through historic French settlements along the Mississippi River with a side trip to picturesque sandstone outcrops and canyons.

So “let’s stroll” and find a good B&B

This is what I said to my daughter as we recently walked along the streets of Prague, Vienna and Budapest, “Let’s just STROLL.”  Strolling is fun and it ensures that one is not in any hurry.  In Ste.Genevieve you can stroll the only original French Colonial Village left in the US. Several quality B&Bs await your visit to Ste.Genevieve and they all look good. jeb

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