Franschhoek is the perfect place for wine lovers and those looking to indulge in fine foods during their holiday. If you’ve already hit some of the South African hotspots on your trip, it also makes for a nice change of pace.
Over 300 years ago, French Huguenots fled here from France to avoid persecution in their homeland. They were gifted the land in the valley, so they planted their roots (quite literally) and have stayed here ever since. These Frenchmen brought their vines with them so they could make the most of the fertile soils, and in doing so they changed the landscape of the area forever. Most agree this was a good thing and Franschhoek is widely considered the most beautiful town in the winelands.
Even now, the Franschhoek area has a very French feel. The name literally translates to ‘French Corner’ and Bastille Day is a huge celebration here. Franschhoek is also known as the gastronomic capital of South Africa, and there are plenty of chic restaurants and wine farms to enjoy.
The main thing to do here, however, is visit the wineries. They’re so close together you could easily visit three or four in a day, or more if you chose to hop on the wine tram. Boschendal is really popular with tourists as it’s one of the oldest New World wine estates. The site is scattered with iconic Cape Dutch buildings and almost Parisian-style avenues, restaurants and cafes.
Cabrier is known for its Pinot Noirs. Try to persuade the owners to demonstrate ‘sabrage’ (opening a bottle of champagne by slicing the neck with a French cavalry sabre). It’s very impressive! The family-run Stony Brook Vineyards is also worth a visit. It’s slightly smaller than the other wineries with just 140,000 square metres under vine. However, it produces some of the finest wines in the region.
If you’ve had your fill of wine, or fancy an adventure, hike through the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Franschhoek feels very secluded thanks to the tall mountains that sit on the three sides of the town. It’s quite a compact place; everything is only a few minutes’ walk away from the main street.
It’s a charming destination that’s a little different to other towns in South Africa and even the rest of the winelands.
Plan your trip to Franschhoek today.