#TravelTuesday: Wine and dine in Franschoek
Franschoek is an idyllic little town in South Africa’s wine valley. The Cape’s French corner, it was named after the French Hugenots who fled religious persecution in France and settled in the Franschoek valley in 1688. With over 53 wine estates and first-class restaurants in and around the town, Franschoek is the perfect destination to wine and dine in a cultural hotspot of modern-day South Africa.
When to travel
Spring and summer are lovely seasons to visit Franschoek, with warmer and longer days lending themselves to outdoor activities and leisurely days spent on wine estates. As with any destination in the Cape, Franschoek gets busy and very expensive over the December holidays. Travelling out of season may secure a less pricey trip and the chance to experience the town and surrounds at your leisure without a throng of crowds around you.
Franschoek’s South African spin on Bastille Day, the French Fête Nationale, takes place every year during July. Held at the Hugenot Monument, it is a highlight on the social calendar in the region and offers the finest wine of the region, a feast of food, music and markets as part of the weekend-long celebration. This year the French-inspired festival takes place on 13 and 14 July.
How to get there
If you are travelling to Franschoek from the inland regions of South Africa or from abroad, take a flight to Cape Town International and travel via road to Franschoek. The R45 cuts through Paarl and the R310 through Stellenbosch. Make the most of your trip and travel through both towns that form part of the heart of South Africa’s wine lands.
Highlights you shouldn’t miss
1. Wine! You can spend days visiting the award-winning wine estates in and around Franschoek and still not have enough time to sample all that Franschoek has to offer. A fun and responsible way in which to do this is to book a day (or two) on the Franschoek Wine Tram.
With three different routes stopping at over 20 wine estates, this hop-on-hop off tour operator combines a vintage style railway tram and open-air tram-bus with charming tour guides that offer expert advice on the various wine estates and food-wine pairings on offer at each. Do not miss out on some of the wine estates that form part of South Africa’s Cap Classiqe Route, offering South Africa’s version of Champagne.
If you fancy something a little more unique, book a full or half day wine tour with TUK TUK Franschoek. They also offer photography tours on which the tuk tuk operator
takes you to some of the most scenic spots around Franschoek.
2. Dine! The established wine estates in the region offer not only the finest wines but the most delectable nibbles, meals and pairings. Boschendal Wine Estate, one of the oldest in the region, offers an unparalleled chocolate and MCC pairing in their beautiful gardens. Set in what was once a perfume factory, Monneaux Restaurant treats patrons to top-quality fine dining lunch and dinner dishes while Café Bon Bon on La Petite Dauphine Guest Farm opens its doors to scrumptious breakfast, lunch and dinner options. If the menu at Roca Restaurant on Dieu Donné Vineyards doesn’t impress you, the breathtaking sunsets over the Franschoek valley certainly will.
Franschoek has no shortage of excellent restaurants. It doesn’t matter which of the top-quality establishments you settle on, rest assured that the setting will be beautiful and you will most likely leave satisfied and relaxed.
3. While Franschoek has no shortage of quirky stores selling beautiful paintings, sculptures, clothes and artisanal products, The Franschoek Village Market attracts locals and visitors to the town centre every Saturday from 9:00 to 15:00 (weather permitting). Hugely talented artists exhibit their arts and crafts amidst delicious food and a variety of drinks in a music-filled, relaxed atmosphere.
4. Located on the Grande Provence Wine Estate, the Cheetah Outreach is a cheetah sanctuary and conservation project aimed at protecting the South African cheetah. They offer a variety of adult cheetah encounters tailored to your request. Complete your experience with a picnic or wine tasting on the estate.