Ste. Genevieve’s holiday celebrations this winter wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the city’s past as a French settlement. The Felix Vallé House State Historic Site’s 38th annual Le Réveillon festival in December is a glimpse into the city’s colonial history.

The festival takes visitors back 200 years to celebrate Christmas the way French inhabitants of Ste. Genevieve would have.

“It’s an annual celebration highlighting the music, food, customs and decorations of an early 1800s French Christmas celebration,” said Chelsi Montgomery, a seasonal interpreter for the Valle site..

From 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 4, visitors will be able to taste, watch, smell and hear a traditional French Christmas.

“One of the highlighted French customs will be 13 different desserts for people to try,” Montgomery said. The site will also host Discovery Dance of St. Louis to perform dances of the time period.

The food and dance will be accompanied by the sweet twang of the dulcimer, a folk instrument played by striking strings with mallets or hammers. Dulcimer player Rick Thum will be stationed in the parlor of the Felix Vallé House with his instrument.

To continue the authenticity, all events at the historic site will be lit entirely by candlelight, just as the French colonists did.

Le Réveillon is a free event and open to anyone who’s interested in experiencing the French history of Ste. Genevieve.

The Felix Vallé House State Historic Site is a state-owned historic preserve that includes the Felix Vallé House and other early 19th century buildings in Ste. Genevieve. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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