Franschhoek, Western Cape

Franschhoek, Western Cape

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About 75 kilometres from Cape Town is a small picturesque town, nestled between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape Winelands called Franschhoek. Franschhoek is one of the most sought-after destinations in the country and is known for its distinct French charm.


Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, with over 300 years of rich history and unique heritage. This lovely little town was originally known as the Valley of the Huguenots but was later on changed to Franschhoek, which means “French Corner” of the Cape.

Franschhoek’s long history started when the French Huguenot refugees first arrived in 1688 and established their farms and businesses in the valley, with many of them naming their new farms after the places in France from which they came. They not only played an important part in the history of Franschhoek but also of the whole country. The Huguenots were the ones who introduced winemaking to South Africa.

The history of their persecution, their flight, their settlement at the Cape and contribution to South Africa are portrayed at the Huguenot Memorial Museum. Adjacent to the museum is the Huguenot Monument which was designed by J.C. Jongens, completed in 1945 and inaugurated by Dr. A.J. van der Merwe on 17 April 1948. The monument is dedicated to the cultural influences that Huguenots have brought to the Cape Colony.

Food and Wine Capital of South Africa

The magnificent Franschhoek Valley, known as the food and wine capital of South Africa, is surrounded not only by majestic mountains but also by beautiful vineyards and some of the best restaurants. Franschhoek is notable for having some of the top restaurants in the country. The chefs create international cuisine using only the freshest local produce paired with superb local wine. Franschhoek also offers visitors diverse culinary experiences through its festivals such as the Franschhoek Bastille Festival, The Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival. The wide array of innovative food, tasty wines, and country lifestyle provide visitors with a memorable dining experience.

Wine Estates

Franschhoek is one of South Africa’s chief wine-making regions and is home to some of the oldest Wine Estates and Vineyards in the country. Splendid wines are grown in the area ranging from superlative whites such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blan, and Semillon to plush reds like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz. Franschhoek is truly a home to some of South Africa’s noble cultivars and classic.

There are about 40 wine estates in the valley which offer towering oaks, rolling vineyards, superb ambiance, award-winning wines, delicious cuisine and an array of cellars that cater wine tastings. Some of these farms date back generations and exude an old-world charm. Some still bear their original French names and has preserved the Cape Dutch architecture. There are also modern and chic wine estates which compete in producing wines of the highest quality. A wine tasting or a tour on various wine farms with jade-colored mountains in the backdrop in Franschhoek is surely a fun way to spend your Cape Winelands trip.

Franschhoek Wine Tram

One of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley is through the Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on-hop-off tour. Visitors will journey through rolling vineyards in a vintage style railway tram and open-air tram-bus stopping in at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates. The wine tram will take you to eight wine estates showcasing a separate part of the Franschhoek Valley. These estates are Noble Hill, Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Vrede & Lust, Plaisir de Merle, Allee Bleue, Boschendal and Solms Delta. This hop-on-hop-off tour is a unique way to experience wine tasting, cellar tours, lunch or a simple relaxing stroll through the vineyards in Franschhoek.

Franschhoek Valley Walk

Another unique way to experience the historic village is through Franschhoek Valley Walk which covers a distance of some 30 kilometers in the span of 3 days. The route starts in the fynbos-rich Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve that will reveal breathtaking scenery and a rich array of flora and fauna. The tour us a self-guided and you will walk through the countryside and vineyards to discover Franschhoek’s unique history, culture, and heritage.

Franschhoek Cycles

If you are looking for a more adventurous way to explore Franschhoek, then you can cycle around the valley with the family-run Franschhoek Cycles. Qualified and knowledgeable guides will escort you as you make your way between various wine estates, taking in the fresh mountain air as you go. You can also just rent a bike and explore the valley on your own and at your own pace.

Horseback Riding

If cycling around the valley is not enough for you, you can also try horseback riding through vineyards, orchards, and forests with dramatic mountain ranges as your backdrop in every direction. Skilled and passionate guides are available to help you and you can choose your horse from a stable of exceptional horses for riders of all levels.

Flourishing Art

Franschhoek has added art destination to its résumé and became the home to some of the country’s finest art offerings with a growing number of local and international art enthusiasts. One of Franschhoek’s wonderful collection of art, antique shops and galleries are the Franschhoek Motor Museum. The museum is famous for its unique and exciting collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and memorabilia which offers visitors a special opportunity to look back at more than 100 years of motoring history.

The main streets of Franschhoek are lined with world-class shops and boutiques for an intimate and relaxed shopping experience. You can buy whatever you want from artworks to designer clothing, jewelry, collectible books, special gifts, wine, and chocolates.

Franschhoek Accommodation

Franschhoek also offers visitors a wide range of accommodation, from luxury boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts, stylish guesthouses, and self-catering establishments. You need not worry about where to stay when you visit and explore Franschhoek.

Its breathtaking scenery, rolling vineyards, pristine natural and architectural beauty, rich history, warm hospitality, art galleries, world-class cuisine, finest wines and close proximity to Cape Town make Franschhoek an ideal destination for an exciting weekend getaway!