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Covid and the pandemic is a distant memory and its safe to say that Hoedspruit – for some time now, has been back to her old ways, fashioning the hopes, and dreams for all those that stuck to their guns and believed “that this too shall pass”.

As part of our ongoing commitment to showcasing all the industry and determination our little town has to offer, we are super excited to share the remarkable story (like so many others) that is Fabian & Karine Jacquemin and our very own LA Baguette Cafe – situated at the newly opened Korongo Shopping Centre.

A testament to their dreams and determination, The Jacquemin’s story is not just about opening a Bakery / Eatery in a foreign country but about the incredible journey that led them here, the challenges they overcame, and the community they immersed themselves in along the way.

Join me as we unpack a story of cultural exchange and harmony


Fabian and Karine embarked on a significant life change, with a clear vision and a deep desire for a new beginning. Leaving behind their comfortable life on Reunion Island, where Karine was a revered teacher, and Fabian a skilled speech therapist, they ventured into South Africa, driven by the dream of starting anew.

Their discovery of Hoedspruit whilst on holiday became the canvas for their very first project: Ukuthula Bush Lodge, but as fate would have it just five months into their new adventure, the pandemic struck, forcing them to temporarily close the lodge and look for alternatives to stay afloat.



Covid, whilst a challenge, presented an unexpected opportunity for the Jacquemin’s to embark on their second venture. With optimism as their compass, the couple felt inspired to bring their culinary heritage to Hoedspruit – and what better way than a French bakery / café.

Karine, having honed her craft with a French artisan baker’s diploma, was more than well-prepared for this endeavour. They adapted their recipes to the unique South African palette and incorporated local ingredients and preferences into their colourful menu. Hours of dedication were poured into perfecting their offerings, from the flour to the butter, ensuring that their products met the high standards they set for themselves. 



LA Baguette Café offers an authentic French culinary experience. For first-time visitors, Karine recommends starting with their traditional pastries, like a wholesome croissant or a pain au chocolat (also known as a chocolatine, a type of Viennoiserie pastry) both pairing delightfully  with a rich cappuccino.

Their traditional French breads and the Parisian sandwiches are a nod to their roots, while the inclusion of local favourites like cheesecake and carrot cake signifies their embrace of the local  tastes. Its safe to say they have covered all their bases, with their ever expanding menu, catering to all preferences, offering a delectable range of light meals.


Committed to quality and sustainability, LA Baguette sources most ingredients locally, from the freshest produce to eggs from our farmers. This approach not only supports the local economy but also ensures their products are free from additives and preservatives. Importing from France was considered impractical due to the impact on pricing, prompting further innovation in adapting recipes to local ingredients.


Integrating into the Hoedspruit community was a priority for the Jacquemin’s. They began very modestly, selling their baked goods on many a street corner, which ultimately led to a fantastic collaboration with a local supermarket, making every trip to the shops one to remember.

Their involvement subsequently grew to local events and markets, always aiming to share their French heritage with the local community. Their generosity which is evident, continues to shine through as all their unsold goods are regularly donated to our local retirement homes.

Karine’s background in education naturally extends within the bakery, where she engages consistently with her staff, upskilling them in the art of baking, all while bridging language barriers and cultural differences. This aspect of their business not only enriches the lives of locals but plants seeds of cultural appreciation. Their staff compliment is vibrant, engaging and they serve with a smile. Take note!


Navigating the language barrier and familiarising the nuances of French baking to a small traditional South African town has posed significant challenges.

However, Fabian and Karines’ perseverance, supported by the financial backbone of their lodge has allowed the bakery to not only survive but thrive. Truth be told we as a community are so glad they did – as the diversity, innovation and cultural immersion they add to our community is clearly evident, contributing greatly to the variety that so clearly distinguishes Hoedspruit.


As settling is not in their character, and with one eye on the future, the Jacquemin’s aspire to innovate further, introducing a host of new flavours and a variety of dishes that will introduce their patrons to the full gamete that French cuisine offers.

Collaborations with local lodges and restaurants are on the horizon further reinforcing their commitment and contribution to Hoedspruit’s growth and charm. Ultimately both Fabian and Karine desire to leave a legacy for their children and in so doing serve the community with passion. So watch this space!


LA Baguette’s journey underscores the importance of dedication, perseverance, and patience. Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is as simple and uncomplicated as our natural setting – cherish every experience, see it as an opportunity to learn and improve and find joy in hard work as the satisfaction of your customers is all so worth it.

There’s no doubt that the Jacquemins’ story is a positively refreshing and vibrant addition to Hoedspruit and its continued evolution, so whether you’re a local keen on something different or a visitor here for the first time, be sure to pop in and say “Hi” to our “Fabulous Frenchies” and the wonder that is La Baguette Cafe.