Happy Bastille Day to Zigazag’s French readers in particular!

Helshoogte Pass July by Jo Castro
Helshoogte Pass on the way to Franschhoek. The mountains are often snow capped in wintertime.

I mention Bastille Day not because I’m French, but because it gives me cause to remember the last Bastille Day celebrations I attended – in lovely Franschhoek, South Africa. There was snow on the Drakenstein mountains, the air was crisp and the sky was a duck egg blue.

Franschoek by Johanna Castro
Bastille Day in Franschhoek, South Africa.

Bastille day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 by the Parisian revolutionaries who were revolting against the Monarchy.

This revolt led to the French Revolution.Today it’s a major French National Holiday and the celebrations in Paris start at 9am on the Champs Elysees, near Etoiles and continue until noon. If you want to see the fireworks that will be launched from the Trocadero near the Eiffel tower, then pop over to Bastille Day for a link to the fireworks online.

Franschhoek, Dutch for ‘French Corner’ has links to France because of the Huguenots. In 1687 a group of Huguenots set sail from France as part of the first large scale emigration that took place during 1688 and 1689. Many settlers were given farms in the Franschhoek valley which was originally known as Olifantshoek (Elephant’s Corner) because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area.

At Bread and Wine, Franschhoek by Johanna Castro
At Bread and Wine Restaurant, Moreson Winery, in Franschhoek

Today that seems incomprehensible, as now it’s full of lush wineries with fabulous restaurants and cellar doors offering wine tasting. Many of the original settlers named their new farms after the areas in France from which they originated. Provence, Chamonix, La Motte, Cabriere and La Dauphine were some of the first established farms and many still retain the original homesteads today.

Franschhoek by Johanna Castro
The vibrant colours in Franschhoek

Franschhoek is worth visiting on any day for its history, its wine farms, craft shops, galleries, and most of all its colours. But you can be sure that Bastille Day will be particularly vibrant.

Fields of lavender and looming mountains in Franschhoek, by Dave CAstro
Fields of lavender and the looming Drakenstein mountains in Franschhoek in summertime.

This post is part of a travel link-up at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Which National Holidays, and where do you celebrate?

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  1. I haven’t been to Franschhoek – looking at your first photo it looked a bit like driving towards the “Little Alps” – but I have certainly been to Provence in the summer and been photographed sitting in a field of lavender! Oh my! the smell! intoxicating! Lavender has to be one of my post favourite flowers. And I would love the visit the lavender fields in Tasmania one day. I love the look of that food platter Jo. And as for Bastille Day – we were in Paris for Bastille Day with our French friend in 2005. Always so interesting to be in a country on their national day.

  2. Ahh, the aroma of lavender – it feels healing just by smelling it. And sitting in a field of it is positively rejuvenating!! I’m glad you’ve had that experience too. Tasmania, Lavender? A must for the bucket list. Bastille Day in Paris must have been amazing.

  3. This looks absolutely lovely. I’m Canadian, so if I’m in Canada, I celebrate Canada’s birthday on July 1st. I’ve even been known to celebrate Canada Day when outside the country. When I’m traveling I love joining in a celebration of whatever my host country is celebrating!

  4. Yes, it’s like the icing on top of the cake when you can do that, isn’t it! I’d love to visit Canada one day too 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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