July 11, 2003

Stellenbosch / Franschoek

I went today to Stellenbosch and Franschoek. Basically this is THE place for wines and champagne in South Africa. Stellenbosch was the first locality in the country to wake up to the marketing potential of a wine route back in 1971 and it has been hugely successful. It is extremely easy to travel as there are wine-route signposts along the main road and obviously wineries know how to accommodate visitors. Franschoek (French's Corner) itself while hosting some wineries has emerged as the culinary capital of the Western Cape with restaurants such as Le Ballon Rouge.

Franschoek which is hemmed in on three sides by mountains is the place where Hughenots escaping religious persecution in France settled there between 1688 and 1700 following an offer from the Dutch East India Company.

I was lucky to be there just days from the Bastille Day festival which is scheduled this week end (july 12 and 13) and it was funny to see all the French flags everywhere. In some wineries like Boschendal, staff was even dressed accordingly. The final touch was probably some guy playing accordion in a café...it could not have been more cliché . Only a guy riding a mobylette and a 2CV parked next to it was missing to be like in an hollywood movie

I have been eating lightly in Franschoek in some anonymous cafe in the main street and was pleasantly surprised as it was really excellent.

On the wine side, I only stopped at Boschendal and was far from being impressed by their local Champagne (known at Méthode Cap Classique here). Though it is cheap (about R50 a bottle which is about EUR6).

That was really a funny day. Where else can we see baboons jumping away from the entrance of a wine farm ?

Franschoek Franschoek Franschoek Franschoek Franschoek Franschoek Franschoek Huguenots museum Huguenot Memorial Café Bordeaux where I took an excellent light lunch Decoration for the Bastille Day Festival Franschoek looks a little bit posh ;) Main Street in Franschoek Street in Franschoek Most of Franschoek streets also have French names Franschoek valley Franschoek valley Franschoek valley Franschoek welcome sign Le Ballon Rouge, popular restaurant in Franschoek Boschendal estate Boschendal estate Boschendal estate Boschendal estate Boschendal estate Boschendal estate Boschendal estate

Posted by stephane at July 11, 2003 06:32 PM