Franschhoek, ‘The Gourmet Capital of South Africa”, currently boasts three of it’s restaurants to be in the Top 10 of South Africa best restaurants and up to eight in the Top 100. There is no doubt that this little village in the winelands is a culinary force to be reckoned with. You will find an incredible range of snug cafés and stylish restaurants with every style of food on offer. From traditional English pub food to classic French bistro fare and from superb wood-fired pizzas to contemporary Indian cuisine – there is something for every palate.
Recommended Franschhoek Restaurants
Chefs Warehouse at Maison, Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, Monneaux at Franschhoek Country House, Marigold, Grande Provence, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, Bread&Wine at Môreson, Pierneef a La Motte.
Wine-making has an illustrious 300-year old history in the Franschhoek Valley. The oldest family-owned wine farms are worth visiting for their architecture and beautiful vineyards alone. Whether you are a connoisseur with your own cellar or an enthusiastic newcomer to the wonderful world of wine, wine tasting in Franschhoek offers a unique and diverse experience for oenophiles.
You’ll learn about the wine-making process and gain an understanding of what makes South African wine so special as well as the differences between new world and old world wines.
Recommended Franschhoek Wine Estates:
Chamonix, Holden Manz, La Bourgogne, The Black Elephant, La Motte, Le Lude, La Bri, Haute Cabriere, Boekenhoutskloof, Grande Provence, Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Rupert & Rothschild, Stoney Brook, and Colmont.
The first French Huguenot settlers arrived in South Africa at Franschhoek in 1688 and their influence lives on, for this is a destination undeniably devoted to the creation and enjoyment of good food and wine.
Many of the original French Huguenot refugees were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (“Elephants’ corner”), so named because of the elephants that crossed into the valley to calve. The name of the area soon changed to le Coin Français (“the French Corner”), and later to Franschhoek, with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, Champagne, La Cotte, Haute Cabrière, La Provence, Bourgogne, La Terra de Luc and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms — most of which retain their original Cape Dutch farm houses today.
THE HUGUENOT MONUMENT
The French heritage is commemorated by the Huguenot Monument which stands at the end of the town. The museum nearby chronicles the history of the first settlers, with each of the original Huguenot farms having its own fascinating story to tell. The Cape Dutch architecture in much of the village is unspoilt, as restrictions have been placed on the extent of renovations and new construction in order to preserve the spirit of the original settlers to the area.
In 1904 a 27 km train line was built between Paarl and Franschhoek to serve as an alternative to ox drawn carts for farmers wanting to get their produce to market. Steam locomotives operated along the route until diesel locomotives took over in the 1970s and then, in the 1990s, as the need for rail transport decreased, service along the railway line was discontinued. The branch line was reinstated in 2012 by a private operator which now operates as the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
A VIBRANT CULTURE
Within the vicinity of the village there are more than 40 wine estates, many of which offer classical concerts, art exhibitions and jazz evenings alongside cellar tours, tutored wine tastings and award-winning dining experiences.
Franschhoek has become synonymous with exciting art, culture and gourmet festivals throughout the year.
Top of the calendar are:
Literary Festival (18 to 20 May 2018)
Bastille Festival (14 and 15 July 2018)
Franschhoek Uncorked (15 and 16 September 2018)
Open Gardens Festival (TBC October)
Cap Classique & Champagne Festival (1 and 2 December 2018)
Go for a hike
The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is part of the Boland Biosphere Reserve and it’s just what you need to either build up an appetite or walk off your lunch. This is Franschhoek’s most beautiful spot for hiking and you’ll find yourself high up on along Franschhoek Pass – the ideal location for many photo stops. Choose between shorter, 2-hour hikes or day hikes. Permits are available through the Mont Rochelle website, Tourism Office and Huguenot Museum.
Take to the road on two wheels:
Hire a bicycle from theLAB for a different perspective of life in Franschhoek. Take a morning to embark on a bike, wine and picnic tour and experience the town and its surrounding farms from behind the handlebar.
If you don’t want to get out of breath, hire an electric scooter from theLAB.
Go horse back riding:
Paradise Stables offer both wine tasting on horseback and non-wine tasting horseback rides. So if you went on a wine tasting binge the day before, this might just be what you’re looking to do. Take a scenic ride through the beautiful countryside surrounding Franschhoek.