Franschhoek Valley is one of the most amazing wine regions in the world with majestic mountain scenery, lush vineyards and a quaint European feel.
Franschhoek’s rich history of European influence dates back to the late 1600s when French Huguenots arrived in the Cape after fleeing France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. A number of Huguenots were listed as experienced “vineyard pruners” and they were able to utilize their talents on allotments given to them by the Dutch government.
The area was originally called Olifantshoek, meaning “Elephants’ corner,” which was given the name because of the elephants that crossed into the Valley to calve. But with the arrival of the Huguenots, the name eventually changed to Franschhoek, which means “French Corner” in Dutch. On a visit to the Valley, you’ll notice that many of the original Cape Dutch farmhouses still exist along with their original French monikers.
Along with the French heritage, it’s certainly is no surprise that Franschhoek is famous for being the culinary capital of South Africa as 3 of the top 10 restaurants in the country is located in the area as well as 1 of the top 50 restaurants in the world.
If that’s not enough reason for you to make your way to the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, here are five more:
1. Go on a Wine Tour in Franschhoek
You simply cannot visit Franschhoek Wine Valley without tasting the superb wine from the region. There are over 50 world-class wineries in this beautiful region that offer daily tastings of a variety of award-winning wines. You can expect nothing but the finest quality wines on offer.
A unique way to discover the charming vineyards, breathtaking landscapes and, of course, excellent wines of the Franschhoek wine valley is by doing a Full Day Private Franschhoek Wine Tour with Explore Sideways. Experience an immersive wine day, as a wine specialist guide introduces you to the best secret spots, many of which only locals are familiar with. Each tour is created to suit individual needs and tastes.
Whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur, a Franschhoek wine tour can showcase some of the most amazing aspects of the Cape. For example, your private guide will pick you up at your accommodation in Franschhoek or Cape Town and start the morning with a wine tasting of internationally acclaimed wines at Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. This estate celebrates the French influence of the region through a partnership between one of South Africa’s most well-regarded families, the Ruperts, and Baron Edmond de Rothschild of France.
Next, get to know the South African master artists like Jacob Hendrik Pierneef while sipping on wine at La Motte winery. After you’ve sipped up an appetite, your guide will take you to Le Lude wine estate where you will discover South Africa’s signature bubbly (MCC), perfectly paired with delicious canapes. Lastly, embrace the Huguenot heritage as you sip on award-winning wines in French chalet inspired “Blacksmith’s Cottage” at Chamonix.
2. Stay in World Class Accommodation
From luxury boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts and self-catering cottages, Franschhoek offers visitors a broad range of accommodation options. You can choose to stay walking distance from the main street or opt for a more remote location on a wine estate which will give you a quintessential Winelands experience.
One example that comes to mind is the majestic La Residence in Franschhoek. In fact, it’s been crowned Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Award Winner 2017.
The tranquil haven offers unmatched luxury and comfort that will be hard to rival anywhere else in the area. Look forward to an exceptional gastronomic experience, with great food and perfectly complimentary fine wines enjoyed in stunning natural surroundings.
Leeu Estates is another example of world-class accommodation in Franschhoek. Spacious and luxury rooms and suites are offering a pleasant stay in the middle of the winelands. The Spa and the Dining room restaurant will make an environment of leisure and comfort, always accompanied by prestigious wines.
Holden Manz is a hidden gem in Franschhoek. This 5-star country house offers the perfect mix of feeling at home and in a unique luxury place surrounded by the mountains and the vines. The Spa and the collection of South African art offer a relaxing environment to calm your soul and re-invigorate your senses.
3. Get Spectacular Views in Every Direction
Franschhoek isn’t shy when it comes to breathtaking views, gorges and valleys. If you enter from Franschhoek Pass, you will be stunned by the magnificent landscapes and surrounding mountain ranges. We’ll let the image below do the talking here.
4. Discover why Franschhoek is the Culinary Capital of South Africa
You will find ample cafes and eateries where you can grab a bite to eat. Franschhoek is famous for its fine cuisine, and the town takes its status of “culinary capital of SA.”
With 36 Franschhoek Eateries and 4 South African 5-star chefs, continuously produce fantastic cuisine, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. You are guaranteed to fall in love with every bite you eat which will leave you hungry and coming back for more.
Reuben’s Restaurant and Bar is voted as one of the top restaurants in the entire Franschhoek, by TripAdvisor. It’s located in the heart of South Africa’s celebrated winelands, with an impressive wine list that can rival any connoisseur’s best experiences.
The cuisine at Foliage Restaurant is an experience you can’t miss when visiting Franschhoek. For Erasmus, the chef of the restaurant, the foraging of edible plants and mushrooms is an essential part of beautifying plates.
The Garden room at Le Quartier Français offers a variety of cuisines from the Italian with their famous risotto, Asian with the tasty Chicken satay with peanut sauce and of course French classics like the Celery beef.
Certainly, the best to discover the Cape Winelands Cuisine. Originating from the Old-Cape chefs “lost” recipes and “forgotten” knowledge, Pierneef restaurant at La Motte is still using the traditional seasonal menu with fresh vegetables and fruit from their sustainable garden. The spices and wine are also taking an important part in this cuisine to feel in the middle of the Western Cape winelands.
Out of the restaurants, Franschhoek is the “Gourmet Capital of SA” thanks to its outrageous wine & food pairings. Let’s take the Charcuterie pairing at Moreson as an example. The monthly selection of charcuterie from the Bread & Wine vineyard restaurant, chosen carefully by their chef Neil Jewell, is translating perfectly the spirit of the region. In Franschhoek, the wine is made to be paired with food.
The fabulous tasting at Maison with the cheese, rillettes and fruit pairing or the outrageous canapé pairing at Grande Provence are also important participants of the foodie culture in Franschhoek.
5. Enjoy an Outdoor Adventure
With all that food and wine consumed it is advised that you get outside and explore. With so many activities to choose from, it may be difficult to decide if you have limited time.
If you enjoy walking or hiking, you are guaranteed to find incredible trails in the mountains around the valley. Other activities include cycling, fly fishing, horse riding and a game of golf. There is something for everyone, and you will never get bored!
One thing is for sure – Franschhoek has so much to offer any visitor. You cannot visit Cape Town without spending time in Franschhoek. And while you’re there, discover the hidden gems with your very own specialist guide by booking your Franschhoek wine tour with Explore Sideways.