Fresnaye is situated between Signal Hill and Sea Point, a few kilometer's to the West of Cape Town's Central Business District (CBD).
Fresnaye was originally an Estate just under 1 kilometer squared, purchased early in the 1800s. It belonged to a descendant of the French Huguenots, an aristocratic barrister called Ryk Le Sueur from Bayeux in Normandy. The estate was called; 'Winterslust'. At the time the farmhouse was one of only two buildings on the mountain slopes, that and 'Heeren Huis' near Bantry Bay, which was built in 1776. At the time the farmhouse was surrounded by vineyards and orchards and — understandably — was referred to as a ‘Garden of Eden.’
The French Huguenots who settled at the Cape had a big influence on its society, small number of French settled here, including the wife of governor Jan van Riebeeck, Maria de La Quellerie. After the Edict of Nantes, which granted religious freedom to Protestants was revoked in 1685, a large number of Immigrants began arriving in Cape Town. Unfortunately, the Dutch East India Company wanted the new arrivals to assimilate into Dutch society, so their farms were purposely spread out amongst Dutch farms and the language of correspondence and instruction in schools was strictly Dutch. While the language and culture of the French were lost, traces remain in a proliferation of French street names still exist today in Fresnaye.