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Handy hints on not losing your head at Bastille Day

On the 14th July 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille, setting in motion the French Revolution. On the 16th and 17th of July this year, South Africa’s French gourmet enclave will be stormed by a different sort of rabble. Every year, beret-wearing foodies flood to Franschhoek for the annual Franschhoek Bastille Festival, celebrating the area’s French heritage with a culinary celebration.

The hub of the festival is the Food and Wine Marquee, where the area’s fabulous restaurants and award-winning wine estates will be offering all manner of tastings. Exhibitors include Akkerdal, Allée Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Backsberg, Bellingham, Boschendal, Boekenhoutskloof, Cape Chamonix, Franschhoek CellarFrench Connection BistroThe Grill Room, Glenwood, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Holden Manz, Haute Cabriere, La Bri, La Petite Ferme Restaurant and Winery, L’ermitage, Leopard’s Leap, Lynx, Monneaux, Morena, Pick ‘n Pay Sushi Bar, Plaisir de Merle, Reuben’s, Rickety Bridge, Rupert & Rothschild, Solms Delta Fyndraai and Wines, Topiary Wines, Vrede & Lust, and Wild Peacock Products. R100 gets you in, and a complimentary book of five tasting tickets will get you five free wine tastings, after which you’ll pay.

This year, the Town Hall will host Le Marche Français, or French Corner Market, which will showcase artisanal food as well as holding a range of activities to entertain the kids. Don’t miss the boules competition (held in the Church Yard, from 8am-5pm on Saturday and 9:30-5pm on Sunday), the barrel-rolling contest (at 2pm on both days at the Food and Wine Marquee), the waiter’s race (10am on Saturday) and the Vigneron’s parade at 11am on Saturday, in the Main Road.

There are also events taking place at certain wine estates. Head toFranschhoek Cellar’s cellar door for a free wine tasting, or to try out their cheese and wine pairings, or the unique chocolates, infused with Franschhoek Cellars wines. You can also visit Franschhoek Cellars at the Food and Wine marquee: the first twenty visitors to the stall will get vouchers for complimentary tastings, and those who buy 12 bottles or more will stand a chance to win an extra six bottles.

By Eat Out

Visitor’s tips: On festival days, the tailback out of town is known to reach 6km in length, so get there early (definitely before 11am), or take advantage of one of the accommodation specials, and stay overnight. Beat the queues for the Food and Wine Marquee by buying your entry tickets online in advance, at www.webtickets.co.za. Apart from having to queue on the day, you’ll be allowed access to the marquee at 12 instead of 12:30. Parking on the street can be a nightmare, (and the Main Road will be closed from 10-12 for the parade, but head for the Franschhoek High School, the monument or the NG Kerk where parking is available.

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