French influence on the Cape

The first French Huguenots arrived in Cape Town in the 17th century, and were allocated farms in Franschhoek (le Coin Français, the French Corner). They named their farms after the areas in which they had lived in France, such as La Motte, La Cotte, Cabriere, Provence, Chamonix and Dieu Donné. Many South African surnames originate from the original Huguenot settlers’ surnames, such as that of our Labotessa Founder Johan du Plessis.

The Huguenot Monument at the end of Huguenot Road was built in honour of the Huguenots, and the Huguenot Museum can be visited next door to the Monument.

The Cape Town suburb Mouille Point was named after the French word ‘mouille’ for anchoring ground or breakwater. Work started on a breakwater to protect ships in 1743, and lasted only three years. Work was completed in 1781 after French immigrants arrived. The lighthouse in the suburb is called the Green Point lighthouse, the original Mouille Point lighthouse close to Granger Bay no longer being in existence.

Fresnaye is an elite suburb located above Sea Point and Bantry Bay. The 1 km square land of the suburb was bought by French Huguenot Ryk le Sueur, and the first buildings were built on it in 1776.  Vineyards were originally planted on the rest of the land. Almost all the street names in the suburb are French and include one named after the original founder, La Croix Avenue, Avenue St Louis, Avenue St Bartholomew, and Avenue Deauville.


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