Kim and I braved the horrific weather to join in on the fun.
A Bastille Day factoid: The storming of the Bastille political prison on 14 July 1789 by the people of Paris is now seen as a symbol of the uprising of France as we know it. Hence, it’s now a celebration of everything French.
Franschhoek is the perfect place for such a celebration. The small town’s name literally means “French corner”, as the first settlers who came here were French Huguenots. As an aside, the town is also unofficially considered to be the culinary capital of South Africa, with many top-rated restaurants and cafes.
When we got into town, we immediately found parking, which really wasn’t that difficult to do. Most of the festivities take place along Main Road. You have to get tickets for the main venue, the food and wine marquee, which will set you back R150. This gets you the ticket, some wine tasting coupons and a wine glass. You can also get a VIP ticket for R395, if you want to mingle with some local shlebs.
However, there are a lot of other things going on, so we made sure to check out some of the shops along the way, which were selling Bastille Day-themed goodies. Plus, the rain was bucketing down at this point, so we needed to hide out for a bit.
And, just in case you want to push the theme, there are loads of berets on sale. And a couple of fake moustaches. The latter tempted me, I’m not going to lie.
The queue for the marquee was pretty intense. We stood in the rain for about 30 minutes. Two guys behind us in the line took pity on us and shared their umbrella.
But it was worth the wait. The marquee had stalls from all of the big wine makers from the region, each selling some sort of delicious food as well.
We sipped wine, elbowed our way through the crowds and even got to try fare from the famous Reuben’s. Check out our fancypants beef bourguignon.
|These disappeared quickly.|
There were loads of sweet things on offer too, including these babies. White chocolate fudge in the shape of the French flag? Oui, oui!
Out of all the wines, I think we both enjoyed Rickety Bridge’s Brut Rose sparkling wine the best. But there were many good offerings. And you can always get a top-up booklet when your original coupons run out.
By mid-afternoon, the marquee got ridiculously full, so getting anything became difficult. Once we ate our fill and spent our coupons, we ventured outside again.
Right outside the marquee are two smaller markets: one French and one general farmers’ market. You can pick up all manner of things here: from preserves to cakes to scarves.
Plus there are other festivities of the athletic persuasion. Apart from the epic trail run and mountain bike race, you can take part in old-fashioned competitions like a good ol’ barrel roll or boulles.
The best news? You can still go to the festival tomorrow! Everything runs up until about 5pm. So, wear your best beret and bring a rain jacket; this festival shouldn’t be missed for any reason.