I spent the weekend in Franschhoek (meaning French Corner in Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages). This is where a few hundred French Huguenots settled in 1688, after fleeing persecution by the Catholics in France. Many say that this was the start of South Africa’s wine industry.
Just like its name, Franschhoek is a quaint combination of its French and Cape Dutch heritage; with names in both languages (sometimes mixed), beautiful architecture, lots of cute cafes and art galleries, and of course, wine shops selling wine from the many vineyards in the area. Places like Alleé Bleue and Plaisir de Merle clearly indicate the French heritage. Franschhoek is also the Culinary Capital of South Africa, with an impossibly high concentration of award winning restaurants. Here, you will find the likes of The Tasting Room; one of the 100 Best Restaurants in the World, Reubens; South Africa’s own Jamie Oliver, and Foliage; my new favourite restaurant based on the concept of foraging.
Next weekend, I am off to another small piece of France in Africa; Reunion Island. This IS actually France (it is an “overseas department of France” and has the same status as mainland Europe); they speak French, use the Euro and, no doubt, make kick-ass croissants. But it’s not just the language and currency that sets Reunion apart. While it is a paradise island in the Indian Ocean, it looks like I won’t be doing much laying under a palm tree with a coconut drink. Rather, I’ve been told to pack trainers, a camelbak and my GoPro (oh, and second-skin plasters?!). I’m off to participate in the 2015 edition of the Mascarun, and I am beyond excited!