Franschhoek has been dubbed the wine and food heart of Africa; and it is no wonder, for this little piece of France in the middle of the Western Cape boasts endless variety and flavour. As one of the country’s oldest towns, it is bursting with culture and history, adding many dimensions to time spent in the charming hub. While it has an old-world charm, there is also a cosmopolitan vibe that permeates every part of the Franschhoek experience.
This town is green and leafy, made even more spectacular by the verdant mountains that surround it. It is in the heart of the Winelands for which the Western Cape is so well known around the world. Franschhoek’s neighbours include other wine hubs like Paarl and Stellenbosch, giving visitors to the area an all-inclusive wine experience.
Its positioning in the valley means that Franschhoek has a slightly different weather pattern and vegetation to some of the other, drier regions around it. This is, no doubt, what attracted the French Huguenots of yesteryear to this aesthetically magnificent oasis. These settlers began to cultivate vineyards and soon learnt of the magnificent grapes and wines that these were to yield. Since then, Franschhoek has been a giant within the viticulture industry.
The wines hailing from Franschhoek are enjoyed both in South Africa and abroad. They are varied enough to cater to the full range of preferences. Well-known wine labels from this region include La Motte, Cabrière, Vrede en Lust, Boschendal, Leopard’s Leap, and La Dauphine. Touring these and the many other wine farms of Franschhoek gives visitors a unique experience of the wine-making process and the factors that play a role., These tours of the farms and their cellars also expose tourists to the wines in the form of wine tastings. Many of the wine farms boast their own restaurant, and mouth-watering cuisine is paired with the perfect wines, bringing out the best in both. Some are also famous for having maintained the original farm house, which has become a historical hotspot and a fascinating peek into a world long gone.
Because it is a culinary retreat, many of the tourist attractions include exploring food varieties. Olive oil, cheese, meat, chocolate and fruit are all abundant in this part of South Africa, and there are a number of tasting opportunities and boutique stores that showcase these.
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Other tourist attractions include the Huguenot Monument and Museum, the Franschhoek Motor Museum and The Elephant and Barrel Village Pub.
In the town itself, pavements are littered with award-winning restaurants, bistros and cafés for those with discerning palates or for those that simply enjoy a delicious meal. The style and ambience has a distinctive French feel, but is undeniably South African, giving visitors a very special experience of the wonders of the Winelands.