The chokka cap­i­tal

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Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay may be only 7km apart but they oc­cupy two dif­fer­ent worlds. The Bay, un­like the Cape – yes, that’s what they’re called by the lo­cals – is a thor­oughly glam­orous town that boasts swanky shop­ping cen­tres, two golf cour­ses and up­mar­ket eater­ies. And the de­vel­op­ments have an at­trac­tive, uni­form charm thanks to the build­ing reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing nearly all build­ings to be white with thatched roofs.

“Peo­ple from the Cape call us yup­pies, and we call them hip­pies,” says Louis Fouché of Del­ish Fine Foods, sit­u­ated in the town’s scenic har­bour. “But we’re only kid­ding around. In the end it comes down to the life­style you choose.”

These days, St Francis Bay is re­garded as a sec­ond Knysna, and it’s grow­ing rapidly. “The town has ex­panded fast over the past five years,” says Louis. “But it ac­tu­ally re­mains a small com­mu­nity. Most of the grand houses stand empty all year.”

De­spite its ex­cel­lent ser­vices and lo­ca­tion, St Francis Bay is a hol­i­day town at heart. The pop­u­la­tion of 5 000 eas­ily triples dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Euro­peans and Gaut­engers (and who­ever else can af­ford it) make up the great­est num­ber of vis­i­tors – ev­ery year they ar­rive to kick off their shoes at Ma­rina Glades, Santareme and Port St Francis, the town’s fan­ci­est sub­urbs.

“We lo­cals love it here, be­cause it’s peace­ful and safe,” says Louis. “And dur­ing the hol­i­days we tol­er­ate the crowds. We may not have the beaches that the Cape has, but have you ever vis­ited the canals at Ma­rina Glades? They are all man-made – re­ally in­cred­i­ble when you think about it. It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of beauty.”

“Our town is beau­ti­ful,” agrees Michelle Ayles­bury, owner of Ram­bling Rose restau­rant. “We have more of a vil­lage feel than Cape St Francis does, but we have the same beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment. And ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one else. And once a month we or­gan­ise a lovely mar­ket.”

She ac­knowl­edges that hol­i­day times can get crazy around here, but she’s not com­plain­ing. “It’s im­por­tant for our businesses; many of the shops open their doors ear­lier and close later. But there’s also enough to keep us go­ing through­out the year. June has be­come a busy month thanks to the J-Bay >

“Peo­ple from the Cape call us yup­pies, and we call them hip­pies. But we’re only kid­ding around. Ul­ti­mately it comes down to the life­style you choose.”

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