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Ste. Genevieve: Relaxation, rich history, great food & wine, and even tigers

Impressions Tea Room in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Impressions Tea Room in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Sonja Shin

Looking for a relaxing getaway that's affordable? You can unwind, rejuvenate your spirits and save on airfare by taking a short drive south of St. Louis to Ste. Genevieve. It's only about an hour away; but you'll feel like you've gone a world away when you arrive in the countryside steeped in French charm and history with excellent wineries and B&B's to choose from. You'll even find rescued tigers!

Izzy, a rescued Siberian tiger at Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Sonja Shin

History

Ste. Genevieve has a rich heritage as the first town in Missouri, settled in the late 1730s. It's the only original French Colonial city remaining in the United States and has many of its early structures still standing. Its earliest residents were French Canadians who farmed along the Mississippi, produced salt, mined lead and trapped fur.

You can get a glimpse of what life used to be like here in the historic district at sites like the Felix Vallé State Historic Site and the Bolduc-Lemeiller House (see slideshow for photos).

  • The Felix Vallé State Historic Site was built in 1818. It was the home of one of Ste. Genevieve's premier colonial families and features a authentically restocked general store where furs were traded. The home features early Empire furnishings and original mantels and interior trim (198 Merchant Street, 573.883.7102).
  • The Bolduc-Lemeiller House was built around 1820. It combines French and American architectural influences and has been restored with early Federal furniture and portraits. It also features an art gallery, hands-on history room for children and a classroom (123 S. Main Street, 573.883.3105).

Food and Wine

Ste. Genevieve has a variety of great wineries to choose from.

  • Weingarten Vineyard is the newest addition (see slideshow for photos). It sits on 200 acres with 20 acres of vineyards. It offers award-winning wines, an elegant tasting room, art galleries, plenty of spaces for events like weddings and some of the best dining in the area at its Garten Haus Restaurant. As a Cabernet Sauvignon fan, this Examiner was impressed with the lightly oaked and oaked Weingarten Nortons. The food was expertly prepared and beautifully presented. We highly recommend the filet mignon served over a bed of parmesan mashed potatoes with asparagus and mushrooms ($23-27). They offer signature dishes, weekly specials, offer all-you-can-eat pasta night on Thursdays and brunch every other Sunday (12323 Rottler Lane, 573.883.2505).
  • Other area wineries include: Cave Vineyards, Charleville Winery & Microbrewery, Chaumette Vineyard and Winery and Watertower Winery.

More fine dining are available at:

For more casual fare, try:

  • the delightful new Impressions Tea Room features reasonably priced soups, sandwiches and salads (around $6) and a selection of teas (see slideshow for photo, 10 S. Third Street, 573.434.4327)
  • The Old Brick House offers a 40-ounce steak, seafood, fried chicken and a daily buffet (90 S. Third Street)
  • Anvil Saloon & Restaurant, a family restaurant with a full menu and famed for their onion rings (46 S. Third Street)
  • the Station 2 Cafe housed in the old firehouse and serving sandwiches, soups, salads, quiche, pies and pastries (1 S. Main Street)

See the Ste. Genevieve website to learn more about dining options.

Beauty and Wellness

For a little beauty treat on your trip, stop by Belleza 1 Salon - voted one of the best salons in Ste. Genevieve - where you can get a manicure, pedicure, makeup application, a trim and/or a blowout. Owner Tina Stolzer is a sweetheart who prides herself in helping women feel truly beautiful (57 North Main Street, 314.570.7910).

Lodging

For a really wonderful visit to Ste. Genevieve, it's a great idea to stay a night or two at one of the local bed and breakfasts so you can fully unwind and take in the sights without worrying about a long drive home.

  • Inn St. Gemme Beauvais. We really enjoyed our stay at the cozy, charming, award-winning Inn St. Gemme Beauvais located in the heart of the historic district (see slideshow for photos). It dates back to the 1700s and features period decor with contemporary luxuries, well-appointed king and queen suites with private baths, cable, DVD players (and access to a large library of DVDs), wireless Internet access and fresh flowers. You'll also be treated to tea in the afternoon, wine and hors d'oeuvers in the evening, and a four-course breakfast by candlelight ($99-$189 per night, 78 N. Main Street, 800.818.5744).
  • More historic B&B's in Ste. Genevieve include: Dr. Hertich's House, Somewhere Inn Time, Southern Hotel Bed & Breakfast and White Cliff Manor Bed & Breakfast.

Tigers

One unexpected treat near Ste. Genevieve is tigers. Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary is a non-profit rescue facility that cares for tigers and a lion rescued from neglect, abuse or other undesirable homes (see slideshow for photos).

On one of the many guided tours, you can learn all about the lives of these big cats like the 500-pound Siberian tiger Izzy, who was used as a prop for photos with the public at an exotic zoo and was going to be euthanized at only three months of age because he had gotten too big and dangerous for his job, and sisters Gracie and Thor, who were given a single turkey leg to share between the two of them before being rescued - big cats who are now healthy and thriving (19620 Crown Ridge Road, 573.330.7334).

You can also dine overlooking the sanctuary at Tiger Ridge Restaurant and spend the night by the big cats at the Tiger Den, Tiger Pointe or Tiger View Lodge. Crown Country offers special dining and lodging packages throughout the year.

Specials and Events

Click to learn about Valentine's Day package and specials and 2014 events in Ste. Genevieve.