Historic Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, bills itself as “The Mother City of the West” with pride. That nickname reflects its founding (the exact year is disputed, but believed to be in 1735), almost two centuries after the nation’s oldest existing European settlement but before any other municipalities in Missouri. Ste. Genevieve boasts numerous lodging options, a panoply of eateries both old-fashioned and newfangled and robust wine country – plus, in December, many notable ’tis-the-season celebrations.

SLEEP

Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast

Main Street Ste. Genevieve looks a little different than it did when this bed-and-breakfast was built in 1882; expect 21st-century improvements such as geothermal heating and cooling, as well as seven rooms with triple-sheeted queen beds. Several porches and parlors retain the inn’s 19th-century charm. 221 N. Main St., 800.918.9199, mainstreetinnbb.net

Inn St. Gemme Beauvais

This Downtown gem boasts three stories with eight elegant chambers and many amenities, including private baths; one, The Felix Rozier Room, pays tribute to the man who built the structure in 1848. The inn serves classic French dinners in its restaurant, observes tea time at 2pm and offers wine and hors d’oeuvres at 5pm. 78 N. Main St., 573.883.5744, stgem.com

Southern Hotel

Supposedly once the home of the first pool hall west of the Big Muddy, the Southern Hotel looms grandly just off the town square. Billing itself as the “oldest longest-operating hotel or lodging establishment in the U.S. west of the Mississippi,” it offers nine guest rooms with private baths, as well as spacious front parlors, an equally spacious dining room and a restored game room, to remind present-day visitors of the establishment’s storied past. 146 S. Third St., 573.883.3493, southernhotelbb.com

EAT

Cafe Rust

Rust boutique nurtures one of Downtown’s brightest new lights: Cafe Rust. Owner Shannon McBride, who calls herself “a science geek,” holds degrees in art, art history, kinesiology and sports psychology, and science – as well as barista certification. She caters to patrons craving quality pour-over coffee from St. Louis’ Blueprint Coffee, Italian soda, phosphates and teas, complemented by select housemade baked goods ranging from savory to sweet. 122 N. Main St., 573.608.5055, facebook.com/caferuststegen

Chaumette Vineyards & Winery

Ste. Genevieve County boasts a thriving wine country, albeit one largely separated from the city proper by several miles and Interstate 55. A regional favorite, Chaumette hired both a veteran executive chef and a new winemaker this summer: Robert Beasley and Henry Johnson, respectively. Beasley brings to the table – figuratively and literally – a passion for Cajun, Creole and Southwestern fare during Cajun Night Thursdays, including chicken gumbo and shrimp Creole. 24345 State Route WW, 573.747.1000, chaumette.com

Audubon’s of Ste. Genevieve

Launched one year ago in an erstwhile Downtown hotel, Audubon’s of Ste. Genevieve takes its name from American ornithologist, naturalist and painter John James Audubon. Without alienating the area’s Buds-and-burgers brigade, it has embraced using local ingredients in dishes like the best-selling Chicken Baetje, named for nearby Baetje Farms, and several drafts from Ste. Genevieve’s Charleville Vineyard, Winery & Microbrewery. 9 N. Main St., 573.883.2479, audubonstegen.com

The Anvil

The Anvil is about as old school as you can get. This town-square jewel fronts one of Ste. Genevieve’s few bona fide bartenders, Jerry Holliday, who slings gin, ribald jokes and sports talk with the best of ’em, and fields a sterling serving staff who plate comforting dishes such as pork tenderloin and especially seductive deep-fried beer-battered onion rings. And for dessert: coconut cream pie so good it can transform a humble octogenarian into a ravenous 8-year-old. 46 S. Third St., 573.883.7323

Old Brick House Restaurant

Liver dumplings: Mention of the dish often repulses urbanites, but the house specialty has long found favor, especially on the Sunday lunch buffet, at the Old Brick House Restaurant. In addition to the local favorite, the town-square landmark plates exquisite fried chicken, kettle beef and pork chops and remains a favorite for family gatherings and special occasions. 90 S. Third St., 573.883.2724, theoldbrickhouse.com

LOCAL EVENTS

Le Réveillon

Le Réveillon takes place Dec. 13 and spotlights the delights of early 19th-century French Christmas in and around Ste. Genevieve, including decorations, customs and music from celebrated regional hammered-dulcimer player Rick Thum. Also spotlighted is a baker’s dozen of desserts, including lemon verbena cake made with herbs grown on-site and the annual bash’s lovely specialty, la Bûche de Noël (yule-log cake). 198 Merchant St., 573.883.7102, mostateparks.com

Vieux Noel Christmas Light Walk

Vieux Noel Christmas Light Walk runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 31 at the Bolduc House Museum and showcases the history and tradition of New France in the 18th-century U.S. using life-sized backyard stand-ups of multicultural children of the era. New this year are the Biblical Magi – as Native Americans. The gift shop also will offer treats from Mars, Inc.’s line of American Heritage Chocolate. 125 S. Main St., 573.883.3105, bolduchouse.org

La Guignolée Watch Party

Traditionally on New Year’s Eve in Ste. Genevieve, the singers and dancers of La Guignolée – mostly male, garbed characters from the 17th and 18th centuries – serenade many Downtown restaurants, various local care centers and other venues in an annual exercise in merriment that purportedly derives from an ancient Gallic custom of distributing mistletoe. Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center, 66 S. Main St., 573.883.7097, visitstegen.com

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