Franschhoek lies in one of the most beautiful wine valleys, just about an hour from Cape Town. The valley is characterised by rolling vineyards and fields and is encircled almost entirely by scenic mountains. To this day, the village has kept a certain boho French chic. In July, it becomes almost entirely French when it hosts Bastille Day festivities, one of the many events on the almost year-round calendar of wine, food and literary festivals. You will need a couple of days to truly explore this quaint town centre.
Where to eat and make merry
The main road of the village is lined with a cosmopolitan mix of trendy street cafés and bistros along with superb restaurants and bars to enjoy. The Franschhoek Wine Route has some of the best wine estates in the country where you can spend the afternoon sipping on fine wines and snacking on platters, visitors are spoilt for choice.
Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate
This 300 year old Wine Estate offers wine tasting, wine blending and picnic. Remember to book well in advance for wine blending and picnic. If you admire art, look no further than the Grand Provence which also has an art gallery and sculpture garden. Their outdoor wine tasting setting and restaurant overlooks a beautiful green lawn and beautiful sculptures. Art lovers can take a stroll and enjoy the views from the sculpture garden.
Dieu Donne Winery
You would be hard-pressed to find a better view than the one at Dieu Donne Winery, located high up on the mountainside and has incredible views of the Franschhoek valley. They offer a range of award-winning wines for tasting and they serve sparkling wine so if bubbly is more to your taste, keep them in mind. Dieu Donne also has a picturesque garden, it is a wonderful spot to rest for a moment and enjoy the magnificent surroundings.
Rickety Bridge Winery
Rickety Bridge is one of the designated stops for the popular Franschhoek Wine Tram, the estate is an attraction in its own right. Their sunny terrace wine tasting setting has an amazing view over the vineyards and the valley. In summer, the picnic lawns are stunning. This estate is also home to a lovely restaurant, Paulina’s overlooking the Rickety Bridge vineyards, here you can enjoy the variety of bistro style dishes.
Where to play
Franschhoek is not only for its natural beauty but also home to one of the country’s finest golf courses. Don’t miss out on a stroll in the road of this beautiful town and take it all in while at it. Here are a few highlights.
Pearl Valley Golf Estate
Pearl Valley is a playground for golf enthusiasts. You’ll find Franschhoek’s Berg River Valley, surrounding lakes, towering mountains, breathtaking views and exclusive country-style living. The Estate boasts by the acclaimed Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, listed as one of the best par 5’s in South Africa. Since 2006, Golf Digest magazine has consistently ranked this as one of the top ten courses in South Africa!
Franschhoek Village Market
Here is a village market dedicated to the lovers of quality food. If this is you, then pop into The Franschhoek Village Market. This is an in-season market, stalls set under the trees at the Dutch Reformed Church on Huguenot Road. Besides fresh fruit and vegetables, you will also bag some wasabi pastes and variety of mustards and selection of marmalade.
Franschhoek is home of arts, with a selection of art, décor and boutique stores with fine artisan goods as well as bric-a-brac and antiques and world-class galleries. We recommend you stop in at just a few while in town.
Huguenot Monument & Memorial Museum
Probably one of the most prominent features of Franschhoek is the Huguenot Monument. It’s impossible to miss, located at the end of the Main Road. Stop by to learn all about French Huguenots, their ways of life and their reasons for settling in this valley at the Huguenot Memorial Museum. There is an entry fee to the museum and also to the monument.
The Franschhoek Motor Museum
If you are an ardent fan of Cars, then this is the place for you. The Franschhoek motor museum, situated on L’ormarins wine estate is worth a visit. The museum features an extensive collection of vintage, classic and new models, and even Formula 1 racing cars. There is something to make car fiends drool, even if you are not into cars this is an experience.
Franschhoek is all about the outdoors. There are endless ways to uncover the true essence of your sense of adventure in Franschhoek, but here are a few highlights.
Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Wine Tram is well worth setting aside a day for. The full-day tour is a stylish and great way to discover and experience some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates. Each of the six hop-on, hop-off tour routes allows you to visit up to five estates around the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, tasting some delicious wines along the way. The tram is supplemented by a vintage open-air tractor, wagon, and bus to those estates not on the rail route. If you buy wine at any of the farms, the tram drivers will keep it for you and deliver it to the ticket office for you to collect on the way home.
Paradise Stables offer both wine tasting on horseback and regular horseback rides. If you’re all wined out, the regular rides might just be what you’re looking to do, but wine tasting on horseback is a really fun and unique experience. Take a scenic ride through the breathtaking surroundings of Franschhoek. The trails last for one hour.
The Dutoitskop Hike might just be what you need to either build up an appetite or walk off your lunch. This is Franschhoek’s most beautiful spot for hiking. The route climbs the Franschhoek Pass, and at the top the incredible views make for great photos. Choose between day hikes or 2-hour hikes. Permits are available through the Tourism Office and Huguenot Museum.
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