For the 18th year running, Franschhoek will don its red, blue and white flags and bunting to celebrate its French Huguenot past next weekend of 16 and 17 July, celebrated by its most popular annual event, the Bastille Festival, commemorating the storming of La Bastille.
Marrying food prepared by Franschhoek’s top chefs, including salmon trout, sushi, chocolates, and oysters, with wines from the local Vignerons, in a Marquee in the centre of the village next door to the Hospice, the Bastille Festival is an important showcase for the village. Exhibitors include Akkerdal, Allée Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Backsberg, Bellingham, Boschendal, Boekenhoutskloof, Cape Chamonix, Franschhoek Cellar, French Connection Bistro, The Grill Room, Glenwood, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Holden Manz, Haute Cabriere, La Bri, La Petite Ferme Restaurant and Winery, L’ermitage, Leopard’s Leap, Lynx, Monneaux, Morena, Pick ‘n Pay Sushi Bar, Plaisir de Merle, Reuben’s, Rickety Bridge, Rupert & Rothschild, Solms Delta Fyndraai and Wines, Topiary Wines, Vrede & Lust, and Wild Peacock Products.
For the first time a Le Marche Français will be set up in the Town Hall, as a market of Franschhoek artisanal food and other products. Cheeses, charcuterie, pastries, breads, crèpes, water, chocolates, preserves, vegetables, coffee, and herbs will be for sale, as will be soap and linen, and kitchen accessories. A Farmers’ Market will also be held.
On Saturday 16 July a Boules tournament will be held at the Church grounds, as well as Fencing exhibition matches, a Waiters’ Race, a Vignerons’ Parade, and Porcupine Ridge Barrel Rolling competition. A party will be held at Holden Manz wine estate in the late afternoon. On Sunday 17 July there is another Boules Tournament, Fencing exhibition matches and another Porcupine Ridge Barrel Rolling competition. The Station Pub is hosting a number of bands over the weekend.
POSTSCRIPT 15/7: Given the wonderful weather of the past few days, and that which is forecast for the weekend, tickets for the Marquee are already sold out for tomorrow. Given that Franschhoek will be bursting at the seams, here are some suggestions for what to do if you were not lucky enough to buy a ticket for the marquee for tomorrow: get a wine-tasting map from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau on the main road; go to the Town Hall, where French cheeses, Shiraz bread, chocolates and charcuterie are for sale; taste wines at Franschhoek wine shops La Cotte Inn Wine sales (selling delicious cheeses too), House of Wine, and WINES. WINES (next door to Café Benedict) is offering tastings of non-Franschhoek wine estates such as Lammershoek, Nabygelegen, Hermanuspietersfontein, Arumdale and Bilton. Enjoy a light lunch at Franschhoek Kitchen (Holden Manz), Café Benedict, Salmon Bar, Café Le Chocolatier, The Olive Shack, Reuben’s Deli, make up your own picnic at the Franschhoek Food Emporium, or try Fyndraai at Solms-Delta or Allee Bleue on the outskirts of Franschhoek, where things should be a little quieter. Buy chocolates at Huguenot Fine Chocolates. Interested in art? Visit David Walter’s Ceramics studio, the galleries on the main road, The Grande Provence gallery, or the Pierneef gallery at La Motte. Drive up the Franschhoek Pass, and see the view from up there onto the valley. Go to the Station Pub to listen to the bands. Go to the After-Party at Holden Manz.
POSTSCRIPT 16/7: Franschhoek is bursting at the seams, and the excellent weather is adding to the festive fun. At Reuben’s there is a great Farmer’s market, as well as tastings and sales of Peroni, De Villiers chocolates from Hermanus, Wildekraans wines, and Healey’s cheeses from Lourensford. Castle is being dispensed from next to Taki’s. More Peroni is available at Träumerei. Wildekrans is doing tastings at Café d’Or. Holden Manz’s after party runs from at 4 pm until midnight today, with DJ. The Elephant & Barrel is buzzing, with sparkling wine tastings in the courtyard. A new gem is Taste South Africa, behind Salmon Bar in The Yard, putting Franschhoek wines on show. An antique market is at the side of The Corkscrew.
Bastille Festival, Franschhoek, 16 – 17 July. R100 Marquee entrance fee includes a tasting glass and a booklet of tasting vouchers. Marquee open from 12h00 – 17h00. Tickets from www.webtickets.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage