Although Franschhoek now falls under the Stellies district, it was originally established as a fully-functioning little town, independent of outside rule. It is one of South Africa’s oldest towns and, as such, still boasts much of the old-fashioned architecture of the late 17th century. This gives the entire area an intriguing quality of old-world class and elegance, with just a smattering of pure magic.
Franschhoek is nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains bedecked with emerald foliage. The clear African skies, lush vegetation, gorges, mountains and wine farms combine to lend Franschhoek an idyllic setting that is difficult to rival. It is, then, difficult to imagine that, a mere 75 kilometres away, lies the every-buzzing city of Cape Town. This is extremely convenient, as visitors are able to immerse themselves in the serenity of this food-and-wine hotspot, while still being less than an hour’s drive from the Mother City and its international airport.
Today, Franschhoek is known for its world-class wines, unrivalled luxury stay and awesome cuisine. No trip to this town is complete without sampling your fair share of deliciousness. In fact, this town is acclaimed for being the home of some of the country’s top-ranked restaurants. As a result, it has the highest concentration of award-winning eateries in South Africa.
The main street of Franschhoek is quaint in its style, but boasts many galleries, shops and boutiques that will keep shoppers enthralled for hours.
The wine farms are, of course, some of the most significant attractions. A select number of the first established farms (which remain in working order to this day) include La Motte, Cabrière, Provence, Dieu Donné and La Dauphine. Visitors are able to visit the original farm houses on most of these, giving them an insight into yesteryear. Tastings and tours are conducted on a regular basis and should be booked in advance, where possible. In addition to these, there are almost 40 other respected wine farms in the area.
The Huguenot Monument and Museum are important parts of the local history. These tell the story of the original settlers, their lives and the challenges they overcame. It also enables one to get a well-rounded understanding of the unique Afri-French heritage of the Western Cape and the Cape Winelands Region.
Nature-lovers that want to sample some of the untouched beauty of this area are invited to visit the Boland Biosphere Reserve and the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve within. Hiking or walking along the many trails gives you the opportunity to enjoy true tranquillity with magnificent views as a backdrop. Permits are available from the tourism office or Huguenot Museum.
In addition, try the following during your time in Franschhoek:
• Visit the Camelot Spa.
• The Dieu Donné Microbrewery is very interesting, revealing the production methods of beers from all over the world.
• Indulge yourself at The Chocolate Experience.
• Take the family to the Franschhoek Motor Museum.
• Sample traditional English beers at The Elephant and Barrel Village Pub.
• Hire motorbikes from Manic Cycles and see the splendour of Franschhoek atop one of these machines.