The historic town of Marshall in Madison County is nestled between rocky cliffs and the scenic French Broad River, just 20 miles north of Asheville. This "one street wide and a mile long" town of 900 residents celebrates its colorful past while passionately embracing the contemporary with a recent "revival." Main Street, lined with original buildings including the 100-year-old courthouse, is home to artists’ studios, galleries, music and dance venues, and eclectic shops. A quick walk or drive over the river takes you to Blannahassett Island, where you’ll find picnic areas, fishing, and the recently restored Marshall High Studios, home to many artists. Often, you will catch artists working and see their work.
Walk Main Street through downtown. Marshall has a unique geographic location situated in a ravine on the French Broad River with just main street and the railroad running between the river and the steep cliff on the blocks of the historic downtown. Stop by the old timey department store Penland & Sons with a variety of merchandise from fresh produce in season to men's work boots. Zuma (7 N Main) is a cool hang-out with organic fair trade coffees, homemade desserts and creative, healthy comfort food. Check out their live music schedule. Up the street at Madison County Arts Center (90 S Main) is the home of concerts, exhibits, classes and lectures.
The Mad For Madison Arts & Crafts Gallery (31 N. Main St) showcases 30 local artists. It is also the home of Robin's Handmades (area's only gourd artist specializing in sculpture, lights, and lamps). Find wide range of mediums and prices, featuring gifts, jewelry, furniture, home decor and, of course, fine art.
French Broad Friday Series features fun with themed activities and music with galleries and restaurants in downtown Marshall open late.
Art on the Island Festival is a fall fair of artisans, crafters and music on Blannahassett Island, 10 AM-5 PM. Usually the last Saturday in September. Free
Madison County Scenic Drive
French Broad Overview: This scenic byway begins north of Asheville at the Weaverville exit from I-26. Turning onto Monticello Road from US Highway 25/70 North will take you to the road which runs along the French Broad River (River Road or NC Highway 251). Winding along the river, you may catch sight of whitewater rafters in the summer months. However, historically the land next to the river was the passage for migrating animals, American Indians and later drovers who took their stock to market. The sheer rocks on the right provide a beautiful contrast to the wide river on the left. The highway continues to the county seat of Madison County, Marshall, where you can see the 100 year old courthouse on Main Street. The architect of this Neoclassical Revival structure was the famed Richard Sharp Smith, the supervising architect of the Biltmore House in Asheville. The town of Marshall has a mix of eclectic shops, artists’ studios and music venues on the Main Street. Continuing on Main Street will bring you back to US Highway 25/70 bypass where the route ends.