Franschhoek is on one of the most popular wine destinations in Cape Town South Africa and known internationally for its fine wines and food. Franschhoek or “French Corner”, when translated in English from the Dutch name, is a quaint little town just around 70 to 80km from Cape Town. The most prominent aspects that make this place so unique are that most of the farms still bear the original French names. You’ll also find age-old Dutch colonial architecture along with the beautiful vineyards that are simply magnificent to see and picture perfect.
This laid-back region enjoys spectacular views during the wintertime with snow-capped mountain peaks, and plenty of activities to enjoy. The versatility of its location has made Franschhoek one of the SA’s favourite countryside escapes for property investment and a holidaymaker’s delight! Every wine route is different, and in South Africa, all of the wine routes put together make up a world-class experience tailored to all individuals. If you are simply looking to discover more of the wine country in the Western Cape, then a trip to Franschhoek will really be worth your while!
Wine and dine in Franschhoek
You don’t have to be a foodie or wine connoisseur to enjoy Franschhoek, but if you are then you have lots to enjoy. Franschhoek is big on great wines, and foods and for this reason and it has dubbed the name “culinary capital” of South Africa. This puts Franschhoek ahead of some of the other wine regions in the Western Cape because it is here that foodies from all over the world can really enjoy the ultimate best of the best of foods. You can enjoy a one of a kind dining experience at one or more of the country’s top 100 restaurants. You can also have a day out and indulge in a good old picnic, taking in the beauty of the natural surrounds of the Franschhoek Vineyards and the beautiful wineries. You can pair your dinning experience with a traditional wine tasting affair at one of the region’s award-winning wine estates.
Franschhoek has over a hundred world-class restaurants that cater for everyone’s taste and foodie needs. The chefs offer a taste to remember in full-course meals, nouevell cuisine, grill style and lots more. When dining in Franschhoek, you can enjoy foods made with ingredients locally produced and freshly sourced to create the perfect meals.
Accommodation in Franschhoek
Everyone is different, and if you’re planning on a trip to Franschhoek, finding that comfortable, accommodation that is especially suited to your holiday needs is very important. Then there is also the price factor and the number of days in which you’d like to stay. Accommodation in Franschhoek is fantastic, featuring chic elegance as well as countryside charm. When staying in Franschhoek, you can enjoy a wide selection of holiday accommodation types tailored to every need. The selection of accommodation choices range caters to all tastes including extravagant 5 star establishments, luxury boutique hotels, self-catering guesthouses as well as bed & breakfast establishments. What’s more is, while it is a wine valley, you can enjoy the beauty of the vineyards and the charming wine estate accommodation. Some people prefer the lavish grandeur of an opulent estate, while some would indulge in the rustic charms of a little comfortable country escape. Once you’ve picked your accommodation you’re set to go.
Some great places to stay in Franschhoek
5 star luxury
- Franschoek Country House
- La Petite Dauphine
- Le Manoir De Brendel Estate
- L’emitage Franschhoek Chateau & Villas
B&B and guesthouses
- Franschhoek Travellers Lodge
- La Galiniere Guest Cottages
- Aloe Corner
- Auberge Claremont
- Avondrood Guesthouse
- Babylonstoren farm hotel
- Le Quartier Fransias
- Akademie Street Boutique Hotel
- Leeu House
- La Residence
Wine estates and tasting rooms in Franschhoek
This region started out crafting wines since the 16th century creating some of the country’s “best sellers”. Here is a cultural mix of Cape Dutch and French Huguenots who planted some of the first vineyards and cultivated the lands for an excellent harvest of great tasting wine varieties known to the region.
Franschhoek Valley is popular for some of its nationally celebrated wine estates. The wine region produces some of the best wines throughout the country and some internationally sold. Award-winning and rare wines can be purchased at selected wine tasting rooms and each offer their own unique taste.
There are several wine tasting rooms to choose. Along with wine tasting, come greater dining experiences as well as the chance to meet the masters behind the upkeep of the estates and the production of their select wines. Each wine tasting room is unique to the estate, booking in advance is a good way to ensure you, and your group is catered for and provides time for preparation. Some wine tasting rooms are cosy, while others are flamboyant and offer lush extravagance.
Wine estates in this region often offer excellent accommodation whether you’re travelling in a large group or looking for a venue to host an event. Some of the estates include the following:
- Lunx wines is a small privately owned estate that caters for small tour groups and produces great tasting, award-winning wines produced on the land. Tours are also available in German and Spanish.
- Stony Brook vineyard is a family run wine farm that produces fine wine for export to Europe.
- The Vrede en Lust Winery displays spectacular scenery and amenities and produces great wines. It bears a rich Dutch heritage that can be seen through the architecture. The winery has an onsite family bistro offering breakfasts, and for those looking to stay over, there is accommodation for up to 42 people.
- Boschendal has been around for more than 300 years and has established a deep heritage for creating exquisite wines produced on these very grounds. You can enjoy rustic farm accommodation, luxury wedding venues, wine tasting, picnics, and lots more.
- Haute Cabriere is a beautiful, privately owned wine estate specializes in Methode Cap Classiques and still wines. Cellar tours and wine tasting are booked by appointment only. Tours are available in English, Afrikaans, French, and German.
Things to do in Franschhoek
When it comes to exploring the region, there are simply so many things to do that are not limited to the indoors. Exploring this country-like escape will bring you the serenity you need from a stressful lifestyle and disconnects you from the rush of the city. Many visitors grab the opportunity for professional guided tours of the region, food pairings and wine tasting. There are also several other great things to do including but not limited to:
- Bicycle and hiking trails (great rugged terrain and excellent for that outdoor fun challenge)
- Cellar tours (each varies from one wine estate to the next)
- Horseback riding
- Quad biking
- Music festivals
- Art exhibitions
- Famous food festivals
Art and shopping
You can’t finish your trip to Franschhoek without exploring some of the many interesting gift and curious shops. Franschhoek caters to your shopping needs by supplying a variety of shops such as florists, boutique clothing and jewellery, as well as home decor, wine shops and leather trading stores. Take the time to appreciate the finesse and talent of world-renowned artists, admiring some beautiful art pieces in a wide selection of art galleries within Franschhoek.
Festivals in Franschhoek
Franschoek affords visitors a variety of food and wine festivals including the Franschhoek Bastille Festival and Franschhoek Cap Classique Champaigne Festival to name a few. As far as outdoor activities and things to do in this beautiful wine region, the opportunities are endless. Franschhoek displays such splendor and natural beauty that you can enjoy your surrounds whether you’re having a picnic with your loved one or enjoying glass of wine and lively music at a festival.
Explore Franschhoek on with the wine tram
The tram runs through the Franschhoek Valley, where visitors can explore the surrounding facilities, shops, wine cellars, restaurants and beautiful scenery. Since its founding in 2012, the Franschhoek tram plays a major role in the area and allows visitors to see and do more even when the time is limited. The tram also allows for bespoke group experiences, and vast wine experiences and tasting. This hop on and off experience gives you a charming view of the Franschhoek wine region that embraces the old-world while thriving in the luxury of fine food and wine.
Franschhoek Wine tours
Franschhoek wine tours are a fantastic way to broaden your horizon on how wine making is perfected and enjoyed with age-old traditions and techniques carrying a blend of Dutch, French and South African traits. The more days and time you have available to spend, the more you get to see of Franschhoek’s most popular wine region and enjoy it completely.
With all there is to see and enjoy in Franschhoek’s wine region, booking your wine tour should be at the top of your list. While exploring you can go ahead and sample meals from these top eateries, enjoy some art, music, and simply “live” as you escape the city rush, and embrace the wine culture of one of South Africa’s top wine regions. With excellent planning and a great tour company to look after your needs, you can simply clear your schedule, and enjoy a wonderful experience.
Some include but are not limited to the following:
- Full day Winelands tour, including Stellenbosch and Paarl wine regions
- Half day Franschhoek wine tour
- 3 Day wine tours
- Wine tour Packages
- Franschhoek wine tours on bicycles
- Private Franschhoek wine tours
- Franschhoek Wine tram
Wine tastings in Franschhoek
No wine region of the Cape is shy of phenomenal wine tasting experiences. During a Franschhoek wine tasting, you not only get to taste the lovely wines but also discover which foods pair the best. This splendid and cultural wine experience is necessary for anyone looking to discover more about wine, how it is made and what it is all about. Franscheok has plenty of wine tasting rooms, almost every wine estate in Franschhoek will offer an opportunity to taste their wines made at that very wine farm. You will also have a choice to purchase the wine directly from the wineries. Wine tastings is Franschhoek’s most popular activity and it is not uncommon to spend the day hoping from one wine estate to the next, giving yourself the opportunity to sample the different wines.
Wines from Franschhoek
The wines from Franschhoek are inspired and have years of perfection in technique to bring you simply the best. This region is popular for wines such as the following:
- Sauvignon Blanc – a green-skinned variety originally from France but also cultivated and grown in South Africa, Western Cape.
- Chardonnay – a green-skinned grape variety originally from Burgundy France.
- Semillon – a golden hue variety that produces sweet white wines
- Chenin Blanc – a versatile white wine with a variety of flavours
When it comes to great red wines, you can’t go wrong with Franschhoek’s excellent selection of:
- Cabinet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
Franschhoek is also renowned for the production of some of the country’s leading Méthode Cap Classiques. You can sample these on a MCC route trip.
The history of winemaking in Franschhoek
Franschhoek is regarded as one of the oldest towns in South Africa, tracing its origins to 1688 when the French Huguenots settled into the region. The French Huguenots came to South Africa in the 1600’s due to religious persecutions that occurred in France under the leadership of King Louis XIV. Over 150,000 French Huguenots left to seek refuge in other parts of Europe like Switzerland, Ireland, Germany and England to name a few. The Dutch East India Company sent as many as 50,000 Huguenots to South Africa to help develop the farmlands, especially the vineyards in certain regions. Today their traits are still present and the wine techniques acquired and perfected, as we know it now. Franschhoek also goes further to earlier years of history when hunter-gatherers of the San people lived in the region.
Franschhoek’s winemaking began with the French Huguenots. The 1600’s saw this region develop vineyards and wine lands cultivated for fine winemaking. During Dutch colonisation, the refugee Huguenots settled in Franschhoek as their new home. They then took to cultivating the fertile soil and building the very foundations of South Africa’s wine country, as we know it to this very day.
The Franschhoek Valley Tram also plays an important part of the region’s wine history. During the early 1900’s a branch line of estimated 28km was built between Paarl and Franschhoek as an alternative route for farmers trading. For a very long time, ox-drawn wagons crossed the path as well as steam locomotives, which later technologies allowed for diesel engines. Due to this deep-set heritage, even after the trade route ended in the 1990’s, a private company later brought it all back to life and established the Franschhoek Tram which operates in this area.
Getting to Franschhoek
Visiting from near or far is simple. Here are some options if you’re planning a visit to Franschhoek Western Cape.
International: Travelling by air
Several airlines fly to South Africa from abroad including British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Emirates to name a few. There are also domestic airlines that connect from OR Tambo Johannesburg, King Shaka international Durban, or Cape Town International they include SAA, Mango and Kalula.com.
National: Travelling on land
Land travel is often a more affordable choice but also the “slower” option. Nevertheless, land travel gives you time to travel at your own leisure. Again, if you decide to visit the beautiful Franschhoek wine region, then you can select from a wide range of land travel options. There are several luxury buses to choose from like Greyhound, Translux, and Intercape. Car rental options are plentiful with Avis, Europcar, thrift, and Hertz to name a few.
Travelling from Cape Town City Centre
The Western Cape has several roads that travel throughout the province. Finding your way on the local roads is not difficult at all and if you’re not using a GPS, then the road signs will do just fine. If you’ve decided to come with your own car or rent one for that matter then you can make use of these routes when travelling from Cape Town. Your estimated time of arrival in Franschhoek will vary depending on the route you choose as well as roadworks and traffic.
- Via N1 and R45 (estimated 1 hour and 8 min)
- Via N2 and R310 (estimated 1 hour and 23min)