09 July 2014 by Andrea Weiss

Celebrate Bastille Day in Franschhoek

If you want to experience the true French flavour of Franschhoek, then pencil the upcoming Bastille Festival into your diary.

Last year's Food and Wine Marquee at the Bastille Festival. Image courtesy of Franschhoek Wine Valley

Every year for one weekend around 14 July, the Winelands town of Franschhoek decks itself out in red, white and blue as it doffs its beret to all things French.

14 July is Bastille Day, the French national day that marks the start of the French Revolution and the birth of the French republic. 

And this year's Bastille Day is a little bit special because it will be the 21st year that Franschhoek holds its annual Bastille Festival.

This beautiful town owes much of its contemporary heritage to its French roots. Drive around and you'll notice the welter of French names on farm gates, restaurant signs and accommodation establishments, with wine, cuisine and a lifestyle to match.

The beautiful Franschhoek Valley. Image courtesy of <a href= The beautiful Franschhoek Valley. Image courtesy of Danie van der Merwe

Once known as Olifantshoek, Franschhoek turned Francophile in 1688 when a group of French Hugenots, escaping persecution in their home country, settled here. They brought with them French surnames like Du Toit and Le Grange, and their French culture lingers on.

This year's Bastille Festival will be no exception to the rule. It takes place on the weekend of 12 and 13 July (Bastille Day itself falls on the Monday afterwards). 

Among the activities planned are a Bastille Day trail run on Saturday and a mountain-bike race on the Sunday.

Then there are the more traditional French pursuits like the boules tournament, a popular farmers' market, a barrel-rolling event, and the Food and Wine Marquee where visitors are asked to wear a beret to get into the spirit of things. This year, the marquee will be located at the French Huguenot monument at the T-junction at the top end of the town.

Berets will be on sale outside to raise money for the local hospice. 

Berets are on sale in aid of the hospice. Image courtesy of Franschhoek Wine Valley Berets are on sale in aid of the hospice. Image courtesy of Franschhoek Wine Valley

A highlight of this year's offering is also a dance competition run by a Seychelloise dance group, with the prize of a week-long trip to the Indian Ocean island, compliments of Air Seychelles (with prizes offered on each of the days of the festival).

Tickets cost R200 on Saturday and R180 on Sunday and include entrance to the marquee, a R20 voucher for the purchase of a bottle of wine as well as a booklet of tasting coupons. 

But don't wait too long to book because numbers are limited and once the marquee is full, it's full!

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