World Cup: Knysna goes French

22/01/2010 at 10:47 8 comments

If it is up to France and the municipality of Knysna, South Africa’s favourite lagoon town and one of the hotspots along the Garden Route will be turned into Little France during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  Strange? Not in the least, as the French national football team – Les Bleus (“the blue ones”) – has declared Knysna (the luxurious Pezula resort) as their 2010 world cup base camp.

In a meeting with Knysna’s mayor Eleanore BouwSpies, municipal manager Johnny Douglas and Knysna Tourism chief executive Shaun van Eck the French Consul Antoine Michon said he would definitely assist the tourist town in finding trade and cultural exchange opportunities with towns across France.

“I will work with the municipality to identify possible options,” he said. “France is running a very successful exchange programme between the Burgundy region, home of the famous French wines, and the Western Cape winelands area, and I believe we can find something similar for the Knysna area.”

Bouw-Spies said Knysna was excited and honoured to host the French football team during the 2010 world cup, and she expressed hope that this would be the beginning  of an ongoing relationship with France, even post world cup.

“One of the objectives of our 2010 business plan was to create a legacy for Knysna and this is what we’re working towards. We asked the Consul to help us identify opportunities and I hope that this can be the start of a variety of exchange programmes on a social, cultural, economic and sport level, creating benefit for all involved,” she said.

Michon added that the French people believed their team had made the best possible choice with regards to their world cup base camp.“Knysna, being one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations, is a perfect base for the team. In the upcoming months we will work closely with the relevant authorities to make sure that all is in place,” the consul said. “We are in the process of appointing an honorary Consul de France in Knysna and will also be involved in various cultural projects that will include French language classes for local residents, food and wine exchanges and live entertainment. Ideally we would like to turn Knysna into a French village for a month.”

Alliance Francaise will be hosting various cultural programmes in Knysna over the next coupe of months. Knysna’s Tourism Chief Executive Shaun van Eck said this and  the involvement of the Alliance Française would be invaluable for Knysna’s preparation to give the warmest welcome to French visitors.

“Our staff will take French language classes facilitated by Alliance Francaise, and the company will assist with translations and the compilation of visitor information packs. We will also work together to make sure we have plenty of entertainment for French and other visitors,” he said.

The annual Knysna Oyster Festival was also discussed at the meeting. Van Eck said they hoped to include a variety of cultural exchange events on the programme. “We are looking at a nine-piece jazz band with French and South African musicians, a French film festival, art and craft exhibitions and a puppet show with giant puppets.”

Source: The Weekend Post

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