Our French Colonial Landscape: Lectures and Discussions

Les Amis (“The Friends”) was formed after the Flood of 1993 threatened historic areas in Ste. Genevieve connected to its French colonial history. Since then, Les Amis has been dedicated to preserving and interpreting the French history of many parts of Missouri and the Mississippi Valley. They focus on St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, and Cape Girardeau as the three largest French colonial communities. Their programs, tours, and lectures have brought the history of these regions to the attention of the general public.

Each year, Les Amis hosts the French Heritage Festival in Ste. Genevieve to commemorate their region’s rich cultural history. In 1996, the Missouri Humanities Council provided funding for the festival, which was held over Memorial Day Weekend in 1997. The funding was given to scholars who gave lectures and led discussions at the festival. The lectures and discussions gave attendees a richer context for appreciating the art activities at the festival, which were sponsored by the Missouri Arts Council. The festival took place over the course of three days in three different cities – St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, and Ste. Genevieve. The lectures were tied to historic site tours in each city, detailing the architecture and settlement pattern of early French colonists. They also reflected broader themes of social, economic, and environmental history that influenced the evolution of modern-day Missouri.