Franschhoek, Cape Winelands, South Africa
There was good reason that Franschhoek was the chosen home of the French Huguenot refugees of 1688. The scenic fertile valley surrounded by majestic mountains, enough to attract anyone with an eye for beauty, was ideally suited to vineyards – and wine making was one of their key skills which helped forge Franschhoek into one of the premier wine destinations in the world. The town still has the charming atmosphere of the early settlers, with the wonderfully preserved 17th century Cape Dutch architecture.
The are more than 40 extraordinary wine cellars in the area and the Franschhoek Wine Route is fit for a connoisseur. The Stellenbosch Wine Route and the Paarl Wine Route are also close by, for a mind blowing wine tour.
With the successful wine industry as a base, the town evolved into the gourmet capital of South Africa, with many of the country’s five star chefs running more award-winning restaurants in Franschhoek than anywhere else in South Africa. An enormous spread of wine estates, restaurants and food specialists feature on the Franschhoek Food and Wine Route, especially designed for foodies and wine aficionados – a top class experience of wine pairing, estate tastings, gourmet treats, chocolate making, cookery classes and demonstrations, olive oil tastings and stop overs.
The Franschhoek Village Market is held every Saturday morning through summer, offering a whole range of food, home bakes and locally produced arts and crafts.
The main street is a great spot to sit at side walk restaurants and watch the world go by, or to browse the excellent antique shops, unusual boutiques and well-known art galleries and studios.
The Franschhoek Valley offers a variety of outdoor activities ranging from hiking, cycling, kloofing, and horse-riding to fly fishing and golf. The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and Jonkershoek Nature Reserve are close by for those who love nature and the outdoors, birdwatching, hiking and cycling.
Drive the magnificent Helshoogte Pass on the R310 between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch and visit the historic town of Pniel or enjoy some of the attractions in the area. Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm; Butterfly World, the Huguenot Monument and Museum, the Drakenstein Lion Park, the Franschhoek Motor Museum, and the Museum van de Caab.
Franschhoek offers a variety of live entertainment. Enjoy anything from old-time classics to the latest movies in true Hollywood style at the Screening Room or join the locals viewing live sport or local bands at The Elephant and Barrel, a lively English Pub.
Franschhoek hosts a diversity of festivals: the South African Cheese Festival in February, the Oesfees in March, the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May, Bastille Day in July and the Champagne Festival in December.
Whether you are fleeing from the confines of Cape Town’s City Bowl, or looking for a week-long country affair, Franschhoek, with its European influence is undoubtedly the ‘chic’ choice.
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