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Exploring Franschhoek

Franschhoek Explored

Surrounded by the exquisite Franschhoek Mountains, which are jade-coloured in some places and rugged rock in others, the town of Franschhoek is an utter escape. It is charming, elegant, historic, scenic, fun and, above all, the culinary capital of South Africa.

It is situated some 87 kilometres from the city centre of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province, along with all of its most famous attractions (such as Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and the V & A Waterfront). Despite its close proximity to the Mother City, the peaceful ambience with the distinctive European air is unlike any other place, setting Franschhoek apart as a unique destination.

The valley in which the town of Franschhoek is nestled was originally occupied by French refugees, who fled France when Protestantism was made illegal in 1685. Initially, they named it Olifantshoek, thanks to the African elephants that would traverse the valley. Later, it was given its current name, which means “French Corner”. Its French legacy remains strongly entrenched, thanks to the names of the farms and roads, and in some of the surnames of the locals.

Franschhoek is one of the important towns that make up the Cape Winelands. This area is renowned all over the world for the top-notch wines that it produces; including sparkling, red, white, and rosé. The Franschhoek Wine Valley is home to some of the top cultivars in South Africa, who share a passion for wine-making and generations of experience. Some of the local wine farms include Anthonij Rupert Wyne, Allée Bleue Estate, Boschendal Wines, Chamonix Wines, Haute Cabrière, La Motte, Leopard’s Leap, and Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. These farms offer wine tastings of their delectable labels, giving visitors the opportunity to sample some of the finest wines in the world. Some also offer tours of the farm and the wine-making facilities.

Franschhoek is home to about 8 of the top 100 restaurants in South Africa, putting it in another league in terms of having a superior culinary adventure. The variety is also impressive. Patrons can look forward to hand-made chocolates, the freshest of seafood, modern takes on traditional favourites, and unique preparation and cooking techniques that make for an exquisite meal, even for the most discerning of diners.

For those that want to experience the scenic delights of Franschhoek, there are a number of trails through the mountains, from where the surrounds are showcased. The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve has a number of routes that can be explored on foot, on bicycle, or from the saddle of a horse.

Pearl Valley is an acclaimed golf estate with a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. It is an 18-hole course and each hole has a stunning view of the surrounding mountain range. This is a championship golf course that has regularly and consistently been ranked one of South Africa’s best over the years by various institutions and golfing publications.

Other nearby attractions include:

  • The Huguenot Monument and Huguenot Memorial Museum
  • The Franschhoek Motor Museum
  • The Cat’s Pass Trail and Dutoitskop Hiking Trail
  • Berg River Dam
  • Stellenbosch
  • Paarl
  • The Franschhoek Village Market
  • Explore the wine farms on the Franschhoek Wine Tram for an added touch of adventure
  • Horse riding on one of the beautiful residents of the Paradise Stable