Franschhoek Cape Winelands

Franschhoek ("French Corner" - Dutch spelling before 1947 Franschen Hoek) is a small town in the Western Cape Province and one of the oldest towns of the Republic of South Africa. It is about 75 kilometres from Cape Town and has a population of 15,353. Since 2000 it has been incorporated into Stellenbosch. The valley was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek ("Elephants' corner"), so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. The name of the area soon changed to le Coin Français ("the French Corner"), and later to Franschhoek (Dutch for "French Corner"), with many of the settlers naming their new 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 today. These farms have grown into renowned wineries. Many of the surnames in the area are of French origin, e.g. Du Toit, Marais, Du Plessis, Malan, Malherbe, and Joubert. The Huguenot Monument This heritage is shown today by the Huguenot Monument which stands at the end of the town. The Huguenot Memorial Monument in Franschhoek was inaugurated on April 17th, 1948. With its simplicity and elegance of line the monument displays a historic French character.The female figure, with the Bible in her right hand and broken chain in her left hand, personifies the spirit of religious freedom. The fleur-de-lis (French lily) on her robe represents a noble spirit and character. She discards the cloak of suppression to triumph above the earth globe in its own spiritual space. Her gaze is fixed on a majestic vision of coming things. On the portrayed Southernmost point of Africa to where the frail ships transported the Huguenots, the symbols of their religion (the Bible), art and culture (the harp), the agriculture and viticulture (the sheaf of corn and grape vine) and industry (spinning wheel) are portrayed. The three lofty arches is a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Above it the Sun of Righteousness shines, and above that the Cross as symbol of Christian faith is mounted. The water pond, reflecting the colonnade behind it, expresses the undisturbed tranquility of mind and spiritual peace the Huguenots experienced after much conflict and strife. 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, as restrictions have been placed on the extent of renovations and new construction in order to preserve the spirit of the original settlers to the area. Once a sleepy country retreat, the village began experiencing a boom since the 1990s, and property prices have sharply increased. The ideal summer weather, the country side, the fynbos, the snowy peaks in winter, the refined art of living and the proximity to Cape Town have turned Franschhoek into one of South Africa's most sought after residential addresses. The construction of the new English-medium private Bridge House School outside the village has also attracted many urban dwellers to the village. Franschhoek is notable for having some of the top restaurants in the country within its quiet borders. The strong wine culture and pristine natural and architectural beauty has made Franschhoek into what many describe as the "food and wine capital" of South Africa. The city hosts one of the TOP 50 restaurants in the world, according to the "S.Pellegrino world's 50 best restaurants"-ranking and a famous belgian Pâtisserie for belgian pralines. La Petite Ferme Restaurant for instance, offers legendary culinary delights in a unique interior decor with a stunning panoramic view on the Winelands. The attributes of the village have turned Franschhoek into a popular tourist destination, with dozens of bed & breakfasts and small cottages available for accommodation at premium prices as well as a large used bookstore. Franschhoek's week-end festival for Bastille Day has been celebrated for the last 15 years. Source: -Wikipedia -The Huguenot Society of South Africa