Franschhoek’s Bastille Festival took le biscuit! It may have been the sunshine, but the Francophile revellers were out in droves flowing through the streets of the gourmet capital like there was no demain, berets on heads and glasses in hand. The Food and Wine Tasting Marquee was at capacity, the French Corner Food Market in the Town Hall hummed to the strains of Piaf and the delicate clash of fencing foils, and across the square in the church yard, the thud and click of rolling Boules indicated that the SPCA’s regular fund raising tournament did good trade. The barrel rolling competition was a hoot, there were wandering minstrels and choirs, a steel band and a jolly, itinerant accordion player named Eric wearing feathers in his hat. Pretty much every seat in every restaurant was filled and with draught beer stalls and wine tasting tables lining the pavements, there was not much chance of anyone going thirsty. Except perhaps the lone singers hoping to raise a sou or two from the swollen passing trade.
But as throbbing was the town centre , so it was peaceful at our nook for the night – Mont Rochelle, thatched manor house – up on the hill, at the end of a winding road flanked by grazing cows and budding vineyards. It’s true that what with all the mountains and bays, we are spoilt for breathtaking destinations in the Cape – but I will say that this one takes some beating. It overlooks the whole valley, twinkling at night, breathing fertility during the day – its own grounds planted with olives and a potager. The backdrop view behind the breakfast buffet almost, but not quite, distracts you from the smoked trout.
And on distractions, Alfio the noble pianist who teases from his ivory whites, an infinite universal repetoire from la Mer to Mozart, could almost, but I suspect not, put you off your dinner in Mange Tout the lightly aqua coloured restaurant where inter-course amuse bouches just keep on coming.
I would say that while the Festival was fun, the serenity at the Mont was truly soul restoring. Merci bien. nx