In the heart of KwaZulu Natal’s Battlefields, in the quaint town of Dundee, lies the Chez Nous Bed & Breakfast. Meaning “at home” in French, it is here where we recently retreated for a few nights to discover some of South Africa’s rich history, indulge in a little bit of rest and relaxation, and meet a self-proclaimed ‘mad French woman’ with a passion for travel. Keep reading to discover more about our experience at this Parisian-styled home away from home.
A delightful stay in Dundee
Chez Nous is owned and managed by the French-born Elisabeth Durham. When she first discovered the town of Dundee in northern KwaZulu Natal she fell in love, and it’s this passion for the area, and its rich history which she now shares with travellers.
Her oasis of paradise in Dundee provided the ideal rest for these weary travellers, with its fine Parisian touches, personal attention to detail, and individually themed rooms. We were delighted to stay in the Madagascar family-style room which featured a large double bed and two single beds, its own kitchenette, brightly coloured art done by Elisabeth herself, and a terrace leading out onto the manicured gardens.
To make us feel truly at home, Elisabeth welcomed us with a lovingly prepared venison stew with locally sourced meat and home-baked bread, served up in the establishment’s communal dining room with its Eiffel tower decor, reminiscent of Elisabeth’s heritage. It’s in this same room that we enjoyed a delicious start to the day with classic French omelettes, hearty breakfast burgers and homemade jams before heading out on a tour of the battlefields.
KwaZulu Natal’s Battlefields
With almost twenty years’ experience as a tour guide in the region, Elisabeth had promised to bring history to life for us with her French personality and that is exactly what she did on our tour of KwaZulu Natal’s Battlefields. With her as our guide we enjoyed a full day adventure exploring the sites of Blood River, Isandlwana and Rorkes’ Drift. Along the way we learnt the stories of brave Boer commanders, revenge driven Voortrekkers, English political plots, fierce Zulu warriors, and of course, Elisabeth’s specialty, a slain French Prince Imperial.
While for hours on end, Elisabeth regaled us with tales of the tragic battles that had played out on the verdant hills of Zululand, it was not her wealth of facts and historic information that we remembered from her trip, but the emotion, drama, and intrigue that she stories brought to the sites.
I won’t go into too much detail about the battles at the risk of ruining the experience and creating some serious spoilers for your own trip, but I will say that should we have travelled without her we’d have no doubt been looking at white-painted rocks, monuments, and rustic buildings, with little understanding of the scenes that had played out here. But with her by our side, the fields, rivers and hills came alive with thousands of Zulus, a lone Englishman on a horse, and some god-fearing Afrikaners with nothing too loose.
It was an amazing experience, and one we are sure to not soon forget!