Franschhoek: A pocket guide

Founded in 1688 by French Huguenots, this spectacularly beautiful town, directly translated as “French Corner” from its Dutch name, is known around the world as the Food and Wine capital of South Africa. With stunning backdrops that would keep many of the 19th century Impressionists occupied for hours, this popular village should be a bucket list destination for wine and food connoisseurs alike.

The town is located approximately 75 kilometres from Cape Town, nestled in a stunning valley of the same name. Its lovely streets are lined with whitewashed Cape Dutch style houses, many of which date back to when the town was settled. Tourism is a main draw to the city and after a wander through its many shops, most visitors enjoy the town’s gastronomic delights.

World Class Restaurants

Franschhoek has more award-winning restaurants than anywhere else in South Africa. These offer an eclectic blend of French cuisine and some of South Africa’s finest traditional and contemporary styles, with visitors travelling from around the world to sample some of the most delectable tastes on the continent. Right in town, Ryan’s Kitchen presents a unique dining experience in a homelike yet stylish setting with interaction with the chef. The Cafe Des Arts is another great option for lunch in town, with a chalkboard menu and a relaxed ambiance. For something more gastronomic, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais serves excellent and elegantly presented international cuisine prepared by chef Oliver Cattermole who has worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world, including three of London’s top restaurants. Perched above their wine farm the restaurant of La Petite Ferme tantalizes diners palates with sophisticated and creative gourmet dishes. Pierneef a La Motte is another first class restaurant located at a fabulous vineyard.

Incredible Wine Tasting

Wine tasting in Franschhoek is extremely unique. With majestic mountain backdrops and scenic vineyards, the entire experience is an overload of sensory delights. Some of the over 300-year-old family-owned wine farms have amazing architecture and incredible views, as well as many added bonuses like museums, farm stalls and garden tours, not to mention the main attractions of cellar tours and wine tastings. In addition to La Motte and La Petite Ferme mentioned above, some other favorites are Chamonix, which offers a more modern approach, Leopard’s Leap which is a smaller family run operation and Grande Provence which was founded in 1694 and is one of the oldest vineyards in the country.

Other Activities

The town and surroundings offer a range of other activities to please all visitors. If you would like to learn more about the town’s roots, a stop in at the Huguenot Monument is a must. Built in 1945, it commemorates the Huguenot immigrants who fled persecution in Catholic-ruled France in the late 1600s for South Africa. There is also a museum next to it on Huguenot history. Those looking to relax, book some treatments at the luxury spa of Le Quartier Francais (mentioned above). A fun and educational place to take the children is Babylonstoren farm where they can stroll through the gardens, see traditional farming techniques, feed some of the animals while parents enjoy a glass of wine as the farm is also a wine farm. Every Saturday from 9am to 5pm you can wander the lovely craft and food stalls of the weekly village market.

Franschhoek also makes for an excellent base for exploring the other sites in wine country. Contact our local experts listed here to start planning your perfect luxury holiday to South Africa’s most coveted and charming wine town.