July is significant to Franschhoek in so many ways. The most notable being the Franschhoek Bastille Festival, which celebrates our region’s French heritage. Did you know that the valley was originally settled in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees who brought with them their age-old French wine and food culture? Most of the Huguenots who settled in the area were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (‘Elephant’s Corner’), so named due to the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. The name soon changed to Franschhoek, with many of the settlers naming their acquired farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, La Cotte, Cabrière, Provence Chamonix, Dieu Donné and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms – most of which still retain their original farm houses, which, to date, have evolved into successful wineries.
The heritage of Franschhoek is preserved by the Huguenot Monument, situated at the top of the village. The museum nearby chronicles the history of the first settlers, with each of the original Huguenot farms having its own fascinating story to tell. The Cape Dutch architecture in much of the village is unspoilt, with restrictions having been placed on the extent of renovations and new construction in order to preserve the spirit of the original settlers to the area. These historic Franschhoek characteristics are one of the many reasons we are proud to celebrate our French ancestry.
However, for two days in the year we get to take our French heritage to the next level when the village (and most of the valley) are dressed in their finest red, white and blue attire as we join in the fun and festivities of the annual Franschhoek Bastille Festival. This year’s event takes place over the weekend of 13 and 14 July and promises to be a social calendar highlight. Festival goers visiting the Food & Wine Marquee are invited to dress according to the theme – your finest red, white and blue French inspired outfit – to stand the chance of winning the Franschhoek Bastille Festival Best Dressed title. Sample the wide selection of Franschhoek wines on offer or treat your taste buds to the variety of delicious gourmet fare available to purchase from some of the Valley’s well-known restaurants. For all the need-to-know details visit www.franschhoekbastille.co.za.
During the weekend of 26 to 28 July our annual Franschhoek Mystery Weekend will take place. Ideally suited to couples your weekend is pre-planned from check in to check out, and hold the promise of surprise, relaxation and pure indulgence. Your experience starts with an exclusive (and unconventional) check in event planned for all guests. Mingle over a glass of wine before receiving your special Mystery Weekend box, which contains all of the exciting details as to where you’ll be staying, where you’ll be dining and what you’ll be experiencing. A fun and informal evening where you are welcomed to the valley in true Franschhoek fashion.
Although most of your weekend is pre-planned there is ample time to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the village to browse the art galleries, boutiques, artisanal chocolate shops and craft beer ‘watering holes’ you’re bound to discover. Choose between three fabulous packages on offer, which are categorized according to their accommodation offerings. For bookings or queries please contact Carmen Arendse on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should you be unable to visit the valley during these dates we invite to explore what we have during the remainder of July as we are #OpenForWinter and some of our members are running unbelievable Winter promotions. Our website – www.franschhoek.org.za – has more information on who is offering what during this campaign. Although this tends to be the colder of the Winter months the odd crisp clear day is perfect for exploring the outdoors, or simply enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee at one of the restaurants situated along the Main Road.
Winter in Franschhoek is without a doubt magical!