On the River, but Sometimes Under It
Ste. Genevieve has suffered from many a fight with the mighty Mississippi River. But the French colonial village located an hour south of St. Louis managed to survive, though it once had to move farther inland because of flooding.
I was last there during the Great Flood of ’93, when Mel and I joined the victims and volunteers in helping to fill sandbags to protect the city from raging waters.
This week I returned with my friend, Jane, and her husband, Bill, both St. Louisans now living in California. We met up with former mayor Kathy Waltz at the Audubon Hotel for a pleasant and relaxed lunch, that included French onion soup, of course.
The French Connection
Kathy gave us a crash course on St. Gen’s history. The oldest buildings in town are named for various French families, who settled the area back in the late 1730s. The hotel commemorates Frenchman John J. Audubon, naturalist and painter, who had a mercantile business in town for several years.
Another name attached to the city is that of a French nun, the patron saint of Paris. It is said that through prayer and fasting, Ste. Genevieve single-handedly saved Paris from Attila the Hun. Hmm. . . we could use a nun like that today!
A Day Visit
The unique French colonial homes are reason enough for a day trip. Unlike Williamsburg, where buildings are reproductions, St. Genevieve boasts original structures. Three of the houses are made in the poteaux en terre style, (meaning posts in the ground), with vertical side logs rather than the horizontal version used by English settlers.
Take a Look
And because a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at the photos taken during our “Colonial French Getaway.” It was far too hot for an in depth sightseeing tour. But the mid-week visit was perfect for a stroll about town during a time when the pace was a bit slower.