My forefathers, the brothers Jean and Gabriel le Roux, arrived in the Cape of Good Hope in 1688. As Huguenots, a protestant denomination inspired by Calvinism, they were persecuted by their Catholic countrymen and finally fled France for the promise of religious freedom in the colonies. The brothers settled on a farm in the Paarl area of what is today known as South Africa’s Western Cape region.
Many other Huguenots were also awarded farming land in and around Franschhoek and today this wonderful little tourist town is known for its French heritage, gastronomic tradition and fine wines.
It is also the location of the Huguenot Memorial Museum, where Gareth and I spent a few hours learning about my heritage and the important influence the Huguenots had on the development of South Africa. After we’d watched the interesting video and browsed through countless memorabilia, we headed out into the museum’s garden to wander around the Huguenot Monument, an impressive three-arched structure that symbolises the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Underneath the arches is a female figure perched on top of a globe, personifying religious freedom, and a large pond that expresses the tranquility and spiritual peace the French settlers finally found here.
Huguenot Road is Franschhoek’s main street and is lined with expensive restaurants serving haute cuisine. After we’d had our fill of history, we ditched the diet, opened our wallets and ate like true foodies, enjoying every morsel from starter to dessert and everything in between. French fusion food at its best!
Franschhoek is a lovely town nestled between scenic mountains and Cape vineyards. We found it relaxing and rejuvenating and the perfect place to get away from the bustle of busy Cape Town and its surrounds. I love it so much, in fact, that I think I might just return to my roots one day and settle here like my forefathers did many centuries ago.
Are you descended from Huguenots as well? Have you been to Franschhoek to learn about your heritage? Where did your ancestors come from?
For more posts in the Western Cape Whirlwind 2015 series, click here.