One Tank Trip: Traveling to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Summer is near and maybe you're looking for a vacation that isn't too far from home but offers a lot to do
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 9:45 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 10:36 PM CDT
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STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. (KFVS) - If you travel up to Ste. Genevieve you are bound to take a trip back in time.

It is just an hour from Cape Girardeau and you will only need to fill up your take once. There’s so much to see and do in what some say is the oldest permanent settlement west of the Mississippi.

In order to understand the full history of Ste. Genevieve we need to rewind to the late 1700s. That’s when some of the first settlers land in the town.

You can get an inside look at the home where the Bolduc family brought their unique French-creole way of living to this side of the world.

“We have an exhibit about colonial area construction. How were these vertical timber houses put together and where did they come from and what made them unique,” said Geoffrey Giglierano, executive director of French Colonial America.

The Centre for French Colonial Life in Ste. Genevieve offers a history lesson of many sorts.

”We are helping people understand the origins of the community,” said Giglierano.

Not only can you tour the vertical timber homes, but you can step inside an exhibit about the Battle of St. Louis.

But the learning doesn’t stop at The Centre for French Colonial Life. There are so many other organizations in Ste. Genevieve that help tell its story.

“We preserve and interpret three French colonial homes. The Jean Baptiste Vallé house, Green Tree Tavern and the Bauvais-Amoureux House,” said David Newmann, program manager for educational needs and interpretation at the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park.

Newmann said Ste. Genevieve has one of the largest collections of vertical log cabins in the U.S.

“We are lucky to own and maintain three of those homes, which are rare examples of the architecture and the National Park Service specializes in preserving and interpreting these places,” he said.

The Missouri State Parks service maintains another part of history in the town.

“Our story really starts in 1823/1824 when the Vallé family purchased the home,” said Lauren Miller, site administrator.

At the Guibourd-Valle House, preserved by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, you can see exactly how the home was built.

“It’s the only place in North America that you can actually go into the attic and touch the truss,” said Mary Alise Okenfuss, guide at the Guibourd-Valle House.

And maybe you want to go back even further in time, before human civilization?

“People from all over can study about dinosaurs and the history of the earth from the one cell organisms up through the current time,” said Robert Wolk, president of Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center.

You can learn all about dinosaurs here at the Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center and just upstairs take a deep dive into world history.

“We have a lot of the more recent manufacturing and the post French colonial area of Ste. Genevieve. We house a lot of that information,” said Abigail Kern, office manager.

And the mom and pop shops and restaurants are what gives Ste. Genevieve its charms.

“It has not went commercial. They maintain it and work hard at maintaining old buildings,” said Wolk.

Speaking of old buildings, the Anvil has been around since 1850, first starting as a hardwood store.

“And in 1855 it turned into a gentlemen’s saloon and it stayed operating as a restaurant until current day,” said Stephanie Gadell, part-owner of Anvil Restaurant and Saloon.

It’s a staple in the community, bringing in people from all over.

“We had a guy from I think Connecticut and he stopped in and he had a personal size onion ring and he said his neighbor up in Connecticut told him to stop in if he was ever in the area, ever in the Midwest,” she said.

And once you get a taste of Ste. Genevieve, how about exploring even more with the Ste. Genevieve Trolley.

“Our main thing is the wineries. It’s our like brand of what we do I guess you could say. We bring tourism out there and we like to get people in and out safely. It gives people a chance to come in town and visit and take them out there safely,” said Mary Oberle, owner of Ste. Genevieve Trolley.

Who would have thought a town with fewer than 5,000 people would have so much to do! The opportunities seem endless.

“If they are planning on a trip to Ste. Genevieve, try not to make it a one day stay because you can’t take everything in this town in one day,” said Wolk.

So when you head up to Ste. Genevieve...

“We all have a different part of the puzzle to help you understand what makes this such an intriguing and appealing place,” Giglierano.

Putting each piece together as you go.