Franschhoek is a small town in the Western Cape Province and one of the oldest towns of South Africa. Founded in 1688 the postcard-perfect town is steeped in history and there are numerous buildings and monuments to be visited.

The recent Battle Up Blaauwberg Hill Trail Run had us researching the relevant history, and the French came up some stage. We are also watching a popular TV series set in France in the 1500’s. This lead to a discussion about the French in the Cape Colony, and of course the French Huguenots. The history is of course quite sad as the French were fleeing persecution in their own country. Well, France’s loss was most certainly our gain!

“The organised large scale emigration of Huguenots to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa occurred during 1688 – 1689. However, even before this large scale emigration individual Huguenots such as François Villion (1671) and the brothers François and Guillaume du Toit (1686) fled to the Cape of Good Hope. In 1692 a total of 201 French Huguenots had settled at the Cape of Good Hope. Most of them settled in an area now known as Franschhoek (“French Corner”), some 70 km outside Cape Town, where many farms still bear their original French names.” —

We recently took part in the inaugural Trail du Mont Rochelle in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, and will certainly head back that way to hike more of the area!

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