The French Charm of Franschhoek
Meaning French Corner, Franschhoek, was first colonized by the French Huguenots in 1692. One of the most famous attractions in the town remains the Huguenot Memorial, with its distinctive three arches, representing the Holy Trinity and the woman, holding a bible and broken chain, symbolizing these early settlers escape from religious oppression, which is located at the end of the main road. When entering Franschhoek, one is immediately aware of an air of relaxation and elegance, and on any given day, the streets are lined with holiday makers and leisure seekers.
A cultured and refined little town, the French influence on the culture and architecture is visible almost anywhere, and many of the Franschhoek attractions reflect this history. The town hosts a large array of annual festivals, ranging from the Bastille Festival, commemorating the towns history, to the Franschhoek literary festival, wine, champagne and cheese festivals to name a few, all displaying the same air of refinement that the town itself is renowned for.
As far as fine dining is concerned, Franschhoek has somewhat of a reputation for being among the best. The Franschoekian dedication to food is clear. There are 36 restaurants in the town itself, which has a total population of around 6000 people in total. Art galleries, curio shops and farm stalls abound in and around the town, and anyone looking for mementos of their trip, or gifts for their loved ones at home will be spoilt for choice.
After all that eating, it will probably be prudent to do something a little less sedentary, and the surrounding countryside offers various choices. The Mont Rochelle Equestrian Centre offers horse riders tours and trails through the hills and valleys surrounding the town, while cycling enthusiasts can hire bicycles from Manic Cycles and explore the area themselves. Fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of the fly fishing on offer at Dewdale Flyfishery, which also offers training to novices. Along with hiking, quad biking, 4 x 4 trails and other outdoor activities, as well as the Wemmershoek dam and water sports within easy reach of the town, outdoor activities are abundant.
After a days fun in the sun outdoors, what could be better than settling down to a movie? Settle down at the Screening Room which offers a unique movie watching experience from the comfort of a couch or arm chair, while sipping a local wine and enjoying tasty snacks. This private movie house screens everything from golden age classics to cinema nouveau.
Long touted as an advanced town in terms community empowerment, many upliftment programmes have been initiated, a good example being the Huguenot Fine Chocolates chocolaterie, which is a joint initiative between the town and the Belgian government. Watch the experts make your chocolates while you wait, and then savour every bite.
So it is clear, if you are planning a trip to Franschhoek, whether for a romantic getaway, a family outing, or a wedding in Franschhoek, with all the fine food and other delicacies on offer, as well as the slower pace of life to be enjoyed, you had better forget about your waistline, at least temporarily. One thing is assured though, nowhere else will you find this kind of dedication to the good life. C’est La Vie.