Franschhoek

Franschhoek (85km from Cape Town) is best known for its supposed French origins, wine and culinary delights. The valley and dramatic mountains rising up on three sides are beautiful but the town is nothing to jump up and down about. If you come expecting to find an oak-lined mini-Stellenbosch, urban Franschhoek can be a tad disappointing, comprising a sunbaked main street of B&Bs and restaurants sporting posh names that not even locals can get their tongues around. Despite this, Franschhoek is thriving, thanks to savvy marketing and the attention shown by tour buses and foreign investors. Although accommodation consists almost entirely of upmarket guesthouses, all has not been lost to foreign currency as there are still a number of affordable self-catering options scattered about the valley.



Things To Do
  • Three things make Franschhoek tick: food, wine and picturesque surrounds. The town has fashioned itself as the gourmet capital of the Cape and every building that isn’t a guesthouse or ‘antique’ shop is a restaurant or sidewalk café. Many of them are excellent and expensive, others just plain expensive – so choose wisely. A number of the surrounding wine estates have eateries of their own. 
     
  • Get sozzled along Franschhoek’s Wine Route or ‘Vignerons de Franschhoek’, as it likes to be called. Don’t try to cover all 20 or so estates in one morning – thereishalwaysh tomorrow. Many of the wine estates are virtually in town and accessible by bike or foot, others a short drive by car.
     
  • Hike, walk or crawl the Boland Trail, which offers two- and three-day options. Better still, warm up first with Cats Pad, an historic walk along the Franschhoek Pass that was built by Jan Cats in 1819, then proceed to Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, another attractive option with several day hikes.
     
  • Horseriding, mountain biking and birdwatching are other possible outdoor pursuits. Again, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and the La Motte plantation are best suited to these pastimes.  The Mont Rochelle Equestrian Centre and Paradise Cottages and Stables are your contacts for horseriding.
     
  • Apart from the beautiful Cape Dutch architecture of the wine estates, Franschhoek has few buildings of great cultural significance, though you may like to visit the Huguenot Monument and the Museum in the village; both depict the French contribution to the area.
     
  • Take the scenic Franschhoek Pass, pull over at the top, pull the cork, and watch the African sun drop into the horizon’s penny-slot.
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