Le Quartier Français is an exclusive boutique hotel situated in the stunning yet quaint town of Franschhoek, just 50 minutes from Cape Town, in a spectacular valley that is a must for any food or wine lover. Always on hand and keeping an eye on keeping the hotel’s sterling name is the larger-than-life owner, Susan Huxter.
Tucked away in secluded gardens, you wouldn’t think that LQF’s gorgeously decorated rooms and suites, with their mountain views, are still so central. It is so quiet that you could be in the countryside, yet you are close enough to stroll to the myriad shops and eateries springing up in this increasingly popular hideout. Huxter has also created a fantastic shop selling local things that will leave you with your arms loaded, as well as a private 30-seater moviehouse.
Known for its gastronomic experience – at restaurants ICI and the Tasting Room – LQF starts your day with a breakfast that is incomparable … and from there on it only gets better. Whether it is bistro lunches or homemade truffles or sensational sold-out dinners, they all come from the kitchen of award-winning chef Margot Janse and her team. Make sure to ask LQF about their range of cooking and eating adventures.
MEETING MR. MONDAY
Three years ago 68-year-old Mrs. Ndaba (LQF prefers to not give out her first name) began a nursery school in her little pink shack in the informal local settlement Langrug, and she soon had 67 toddlers – aged two to six – to support and teach, but with no funding. Hearing about this in 2009, LQF, with the aid of a dietitian, began a program to make muffins crammed full of all the daily nutritional requirements growing children need. These are delivered every Friday, and any interested guests and visitors can not only join in the delivery but help bake the muffins. (Watch a video of Mrs. Ndaba’s Fridays, below, with a funky soundtrack.)
But that’s only where the story starts. On the very first day of the Friday program, one guest was so inspired that he offered to fund meals at the school for every Monday for a year. He became known as Mister Monday. Before long, every day of the week had been sponsored, even by people who had not stayed at LQF.
A significant portion of the produce used in the restaurants is sourced locally and come from very small producers who knock on the back door with their produce of the day, and LQF’s restaurants support Streetsmart, which adds money on to each diner’s bill to finance programs that help street children. The hotel also contributes to the Kusasa Project, which is aimed at improving the lives of underprivileged children. LQF also supplies food to the local soup kitchen, and it donates its old linens to the local hospice.
LQF has a three-year in-house training program focused on local kids who have completed high school. Of the 15 who have completed the course, a number have worked at Wheatleigh and Blantyre, both luxury hotels in Lenox, Massachusetts, as well as at Singita.