Franschhoek Bastille Festival 2013 Review
Entering Franschhoek on a rainy cold day we were escorted into the town by a long line of the Tricolore decorating every available space. Having left Cape Town early we managed to beat the influx of festival goers (and found parking)!
Donned in our berets and having practiced our merci and bonjour we stepped into a little bit of France. Passers-by, dressed in red, blue and white, with berets pulled low over their ears and sporting stick-on mustaches were not deterred by the infliction of the Cape Winter and spirts were high. For this weekend, every year, everyone in Franschhoek speaks (or attempts to speak) French and being greeted in French with a toothless smile from a street vendor was testimony to the spirit of this festival.
Directed by a white-faced mime, dressed in his French Best, we made our way through winding market isles emanating the aromas of true French staples such as French Onion soup, croissants, crepes and brightly coloured Macaroons lined up in a rainbow display. There was no shortage of savoury sustenance as delectable deli meats, glistening olives and oozingly ripe cheeses vied for attention. Dotted amongst the French delicacies some South African favourites, such as Snoek, vetkoek and curry and rice proudly stood their ground.
We admired the art of Steve Jeffery, of The Chaveutevie, as he created his luscious Bastille Platter. Steve expertly arranged various specialty meats, cheeses, olives and breads on a large platter dotted with smooth segments of avocado drizzled with amber lashings of olive oil.
27 Vignerons de Franschhoek, including award winning estates such as Anthonji Rupert Wines, Backsberg Estate Cellars, Boschendal, Dieu Donn, and Haute Cabrire were on display and tasted – all in the name of research of course. Local restaurants lineup irresistible glasses of golden ports inviting passersby into cozy eateries. Wines sold by the glass were vigorously sipped by festival goers in an attempt to keep spirit and flesh warm.
Local restaurants added their bit of French opulence producing French (and European) inspired menus for the duration of the festival. LErmitages lineup included Crepes and Macaroons, Reubens offered braised beef bourguignon while Anthonji Rupert Wines created Bistecca Fiorentina (a platter style meal).
The Bastille Festival is well worth the hours drive from Cape Town. It is suggested that you leave early for next years festival to avoid traffic and so that you find parking. Otherwise, make a weekend of it and find accommodation in this very charming little village.