Surrounded by mountains and green valleys, Franschhoek (meaning “French Corner”) is the gourmet heartland of South Africa. French Huguenots settled here in the 1680s and brought with them centuries of food and wine traditions. Just a one-hour drive from Cape Town, Franschhoek is a place to enjoy award-winning cuisine in the shadows of picturesque scenery.
Franschhoek’s leafy streets are pleasant to explore on foot and are lined with art galleries, antique shops and museums. View works by contemporary African artists at the Holden Manz Collection. Learn about the history of the French Huguenot settlers at the Huguenot Memorial Museum. Watch chocolate-making demonstrations and sample Belgian chocolate at Huguenot Fine Chocolates.
Visit one of the wine estates of the Franschhoek Valley to enjoy wine tastings and cellar tours, picnics and leisurely walks. Step aboard the hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram, which passes rolling vineyards and stops off at some of the country’s oldest bodegas. Among these is the Haute Cabrière winery, which dates back to 1694. Rent a bike and take a self-guided tour of the bodegas.
Franschhoek takes its culinary scene seriously and has more award-winning restaurants than anywhere else in the country. Join a tour of the Franschhoek Valley Food and Wine Route for olive oil and cheese tastings, cooking demonstrations and food and wine pairings. Food and wine culture is also celebrated at numerous cultural events, such as July’s Bastille Festival and the Cap Classique and Champagne Festival.
For the energetic there are many hiking trails in the surrounding mountains and valley. Go to Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve for panoramic views of the Cape Winelands. On a clear day you can see as far as Table Mountain. Make the short drive to Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve for more walking trails and the chance to spot over 100 bird species.
Play a round of golf at nearby Pearl Valley, a course designed by world-famous golfer Jack Nicklaus.
Rent a car and drive to Franschhoek from Cape Town. Once there you can go without your car and get around on foot or as part of a tour.