Franschhoek owes its existence to the French Huguenots who after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France in 1685 – when Protestantism was outlawed – fled their homeland. A few hundred of them eventually made their way by ship to the Cape of Good Hope. A number of them were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Oliphantshoek (Elephant Corner) – so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. Soon after they settled here, it became known as Franschhoek (French Corner) as it had the highest concentration of French speakers of any area in the Cape. Today the Huguenot Memorial monument stands proudly at the top of the village. Discovering the rich symbolism of the monument is a great introduction to Huguenot history, but if you have more time the Huguenot museum nearby chronicles the history of those brave pioneers. Spectacular vineyards, each with their own story to tell, cover the valley floor and mountain slopes. Several aspects of French culture live on in the valley. These include: the French food and wine culture, the French names of many valley properties and the annual celebration of the storming of the Bastille in 1789 (now linked to our own struggle for political freedom and the emancipation of the slaves at the Cape in 1834.