Did You Know?
Ste. Genevieve is Missouri’s first settlement, founded by the French in the early 1700s.
Named by “Country Living Magazine” as One of the 50 Most Beautiful Places in America
Ranked 3rd by “Only in Your State” as one of the 17 Most Charming Towns in America
Late afternoon on Friday, September 1 (Labor Day weekend) I arrived at the Ste. Genevieve Great River Road Welcome Center. There I picked up literature including my itinerary, B&B info, a Visitor’s Guide, a Wine Country map, Hiking Trails map, French Colonial brochure and an Historic District map. Then I watched a short video of the city as I had not seen it in several years.
At 5 pm I checked in at the Main Street Bed & Breakfast located at 221 N. Main Street where I was warmly greeted by Innkeeper Jean Sellberg (Her personality is well suited to inn keeping.) She assigned me the Trope Ricard Room upstairs, which has a porch outside the room that during certain hours is a private porch.
Originally built in 1882 as the Meyer Hotel, the Main Street Inn B&B has long been considered one of Missouri’s finest bed and breakfast establishments. Having recently undergone an extensive year-long renovation, the new owner (Dr. Susan McDonald) and innkeeper Jean Sellberg are thrilled to re-open this inn.
My guest room was attractively furnished and had all of the necessary amenities. Upon arrival wine and cheese were offered, and the breakfast the next morning was excellent. Late Saturday afternoon refreshments were served in the parlor to the inn’s guests.
Website: www.mainstrinn.net; phone: 573-880-7500
About an hour later a friend and I strolled two blocks to dinner and en route we popped into Only Child Originals (jewelry designer and metal arts sculptures) and peeped in the windows of other shops.
Our dinner at Audubon’s Bar & Grill (9 North Main), which as I recall was being rehabbed on my previous visit to Ste. Genevieve, was excellent. Regional dining specialties are offered at Audubon’s. The signature dish is Chicken Baetje (goat cheese, their spin on Cordon Bleu). After a delicious meal, I ordered a chocolate martini for a nightcap. Greg Ferguson, one of the four owners who restored the historic building built in 1903, warmly greeted my friend and me as did several of the other owners of this building. Breakfast is served only on Sunday from 10am-2pm. Lunch and dinner are offered Tuesday through Saturday.
A hotel with 8 guest rooms is scheduled to open upstairs this spring.
On Saturday, September 2 I awakened to a sunny, slightly chilly day. After a sumptuous breakfast with other guests in the large dining room, there was time to shop and discover some of the new shops that were not in Ste. Gen on my last visit. The shops include RUST on North Main; the Show-Me Shop, which is always busy and is a must-stop for me with cheeses and wines, culinary tools and cookbooks, as is European Entitlements with fine home and garden décor and beautiful coffee table books. Add to your shopping list the Belle Ever After Boutique near Main and Merchant and First Settlement Antique’s new location next door to Sara’s Ice Cream. I wandered up Merchant Street, stopping in at the revamped gift shop of the Felix Valle State Historic Site, and the new shop RustikSandKandles, and Simple to Sassy (corner of Merchant and 3rd).
Note the newly restored DuBourg Centre, a posh reception center owned by the Catholic Church of Ste. Genevieve.
What a gorgeous church this is! This Gothic-style brick church, which will seat 2,000 people, has beautiful stained glass windows, statues, marble altars and two paintings given to the church by King Louis XVI of France.)
One block away is a trio of new shops: What-Nots and Oddities (across from the Courthouse Square), Rhinehart and Rhinehart’s Art Gallery (a native of St. Gen recently returned after a storied career as an artist; the wall-sized paintings are astounding!) and the ASL Pewter Foundry on Third Street across from the Southern Hotel B&B. There you may watch the artisans at work and shop for lead-free pewter in original designs—some new and some dating to the 1700s. For lovers of vintage jewelry visit Steiger’s Estate Jewelry downtown on Merchant Street.
Ste. Genevieve Calendar Of Events
November 11: Cookie Crumb Trail
November 18: Harvest Celebration on the Route du Vin Wine Trail
December 1, 2 & 3: Holiday Christmas Festival
December 10: French Christmas at the Felix Valle House
Ste. Genevieve Wine Country
A short half hour drive from Ste. Genevieve is the wine country of Missouri. It is especially beautiful in the autumn.
“The wine country is a big tourism draw and it ties in to our local heritage, both of the French and subsequent German influence on wine making traditions,” said Sandra Cabot, Tourism Director. “The beauty of the combination of the wine country and the historic District, which is a national landmark historic district, is that it makes for a perfect 2-3 day visit. You can do the historic sites, the shopping, downtown activities in one day, the wine country the next, and beautiful hiking, biking and scenic tours. There are several hot spots for antiquing in St. Genevieve County. One is St. Mary’s Antique Mall, which can easily take two hours to wander down its aisles, and others are Schultz’s Antiques and First Settlements. Note: St. Mary’s, Missouri is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Ste. Genevieve.
There are 11 wine trails and 10 wineries and microbreweries. A new amenity that originated in 2016 is now available for private charters or on weekends you can reserve a seat and it will pick you up at your downtown Ste. Gen hotel or B&B and take you through wine country. Groups also reserve the trolley for historic district tours. Step-on tours are offered. For more information visit www.VisitStGen and follow the links to transportation (click on Vines to Wines).
Recently Chaumette Winery, owned by Hank Johnson, won several awards, as did Crown Valley. On my last visit I had the privilege of being a guest at Chaumette in a lovely private villa decorated with a Country French flair. I toured an historic on-site chapel and a special events barn, visited the Tasting room, and overindulged at lunch at the Grapevine Grill.
Mid-afternoon a friend and I explored the new parts of the Wine Country: Watertower Winery, Weingarten Winery and the Garten Haus Restaurant.
Back in town, even though I needed a nap at this point, I did more shopping in downtown Ste. Genevieve. One of my favorite quaint shops is Odile’s Linen and Lace, Etc., which features curtains, table laces, pillowcases and handkerchiefs; scarves, hats, jewelry, heirloom caps for babies, gowns and it even has Downton Abbey merchandise. My final stop downtown was the Sainte Genevieve Winery at 245 Merchant St. This shop is open daily from 11 am-5 pm, and it features a full line of premium and traditional wines and wine-related gifts. I purchased several Christmas gifts there.
On Saturday evening I enjoyed my guest room at the Main Street Inn, read and relaxed.
On the morning of my departure, a Sunday, after another delicious breakfast with convivial guests, I met the multi-talented Yvonne LeMire, owner of the Rosemary and Thyme Cooking School. She was preparing for a cooking class called “Ladies Who Lunch.” I was invited to participate, but my schedule did not permit me to do so. She graciously spent time with a friend and me in her lovely Country French home located next door to the Show Me Shop on Main Street.
On my way out of town I drove over to the Bequette Ribault House at 351 St. Mary Road to see the progress made since my last visit in 2014. Most days the owner has a tour guide to explain the history of the home and outbuildings.
As I departed the charming town of Ste. Genevieve, I knew I would return some day (soon, I hope). I am already looking forward to a return visit. Check out the busy Calendar of Events. How about going on the Cookie Crumb Trail in November or celebrating a French Christmas the first full weekend in December or “La Guignolee,” a French tradition on New Year’s Eve? Ste. Genevieve has captured my heart as it will yours.
Article: VIP Jackson