Michael-John recently went away on a romantic break to the charming La Provence d'Afrique where he enjoyed the French atmosphere with cheese and wine next to the river, and dinner on a cobbled passageway.
I've always wanted to visit France. My ideas of the country are way too romantic, but somehow I like it that way. I imagine myself walking the Parisian streets with croissant in the one hand and my fiancée's in the other. We'd sit down at a small restaurant and awkwardly mumble an order for cafe au lait before heading back to our hotel overlooking the cobbly square below. We'd listen to Charles Trenet's 'La Mer' and dance the night away. The holiday might in black and white and I might be played by Cary Grant. I haven't decided yet.
Romantic? Yes. Expensive? Very. It costs a lot to fly to France before you've had to pay for your cafe au laits in Euros, plus not everyone can afford to take a whole lot of time off for the trip. What if there was a way to have an authentic French experience just an hour from Joburg?
Well, there is, and it's called La Provence d'Afrique. We decided to pay a visit to the Magaliesberg, stopping off at this charming establishment for a quick escape into a slice of France. Unfortunately due to a busy schedule, we could only stay for one night. But if we had more time we would have loved to have lingered for a few more nights.
After a short drive from Joburg we arrived at La Provence d'Afrique and were immediately welcomed by Marguerite (a good French name, so already off to a good start). She showed us around the suites, each with a French name, and pointed out some of the sculpture work by her husband Charles Gotthard, the famous South African sculptor. The Bed and Breakfast is actually built in his old stone studio, with a number of murals and archways adding to the French theme. Marguerite showed us to our room for the evening, which was a beautiful and romantic suite called La Passion with a warm fireplace, a wooden four-poster bed, and a big bath scattered with rose petals. A more romantic suite would be difficult to find.
Once we had unpacked, we wandered down to the river to enjoy a picnic and some wine. La Provence d'Afrique is located on the babbling Berg River, and it really is one of the most scenic settings for a picnic. You very quickly forget where you are and just relax at the picnic tables with the sound of the river in the background.
The picnic was French themed with plenty of good cheeses to choose from as well as breads, crackers, olives and more. It was amazing, although I don't know if I've ever eaten that much cheese before. Then again, that's probably par for the course for a Parisian.
When we'd had our fill of cheese and wine, we headed back up to our room passing the sister accommodation, Out Of Africa Lodges, which shares the property with La Provence d'Afrique. There is plenty to do on the property itself including a visit to the Forest Spa for some pampering with a wide range of treatments to choose from, or you can visit a gallery of Charles Gotthard's work.
That evening we had dinner in the cobbled passageway just outside our room. The passage links all of the rooms - with a large fountain at one end and murals on the walls depicting a typical French country town. In the background you could hear Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet crooning away, and with the cobbled streets around us it was very easy to forget that you were in fact in the Magaliesberg and not in a small town in Provence.
Dinner is brought to you in big picnic-style baskets which includes all three of your courses as well as crockery and cutlery. It's a very fun and different way to dine that allows you to go at your own pace, unveiling the next part of the dinner as you go. After dinner we rolled back to the room which was just 3 metres away, having eaten very well.
The next morning we were up bright and early and headed down to the river again for breakfast. One of the tables alongside the river is built into a tree, which was great as the sun had made an appearance and the cool shade was very welcome.
After our breakfast we set out back on the road having had an amazing time relaxing next to the river, eating good food, and enjoying this romantic French villa in the mountains.
To find out more about La Provence d'Afrique and to book a weekend away in the Magaliesburg, click here.