Franschhoek was founded by French Huguenots settlers (hence the name), who fled the inquisition in Europe and were looking for a little hide-out on the other side of the world. They found it in the fertile valley of Franschhoek - initially known as Oliphantshoek, as the valley was known for the large number of elephants.
Even though most people don't speak French, many of the street names, restaurant names and wine farms in the 'French Quarter' have French names.
Franschhoek makes a serious attempt at being the food and wine capital of South Africa and there are many fine restaurants. It's a great place to relax, enjoy top food and wine, in a spectacular atmosphere.
Only one road (R45) leads to Franschhoek from Stellenbosch or Paarl. For a more scenic drive, you can enter Franschhoek all the way over the "Franschhoek Pass" - a spectacular mountain route leading into Franschhoek from Villiersdorp.
There's no train service.
You can walk along the main street to have a look at the shops and various restaurants and a stroll through the streets off the main street will show you some nice old houses.
Franschhoek is a place to relax. Stroll up or down the main street and take your time to have a look around. The mountains surrounding Franschhoek are spectacular and there are many places you can reach within easy driving distances.
- Huguenot Memorial and Museum, Corner of Hugenot&Lambrecht St, ☎ +27 (0)21 876-2532. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 2PM-5PM. R10.
- The Franschhoek Motor Museum, L'Ormarins Wine Farm, ☎ +27 (0)21 874-9000, fax: +27 (0)21 874-9100, e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 10AM-4PM, Sa, Su 10AM-3PM.
- Rent a bike to go up and down the hills along the wine farms.
- Go fishing to some of the lakes nearby
- Go wine tasting in some of the many excellent wineries. Some are reachable on foot from the village; you can use a shuttlebus or arrange a wine tour for those that aren't
- Eat at some of the fantastic restaurants in Franschhoek
- Winelands Experience, Place Vendome Lifestyle Centre, 13 Main Road (On the main road into Franschhoek just before the BP Garage), ☎ +27 (0)21 876-4042. 8:30AM-5PM. Wine tours and scenic tours in the winelands. Also offer transfers to Cape Town and the airport as well as accommodation and car rental.
There are many excellent restaurants in and around Franschhoek. Along the main road are a number of very good restaurants.
- The Bistro, ☎ +27 (0)21 876-4714. Open daily for breakfast and lunch and Dinner. This restaurant has a "Paris Bistro" feel with both an intimate inside section and a "Al Fresco" on the spacious patio area. R80.
- The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais (in the heart of the village). Recently voted the best restaurant in Africa and the Middle East by Restaurant magazine.
- Reuben's. More upmarket than Bouillabaise.
- Haute Cabriere (on the road up to the Franschhoek Pass).
- La Petite Ferme (on the road up to the Franschhoek Pass), ☎ +27 (21) 876 3016/8, fax: +27 (21) 876 3624, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. lunch only, bookings essential, excellent view over the valley.
Wine is plentiful and cheap.
Haute Cabriere and La Petite Ferme (see above) sell their own wines. Just outside of the village are two top wine estates, Le Grand Provence and Boschendal, where tastings are available daily. There are also many other smaller wine estates in the area. Virtually all welcome visitors and tastings can be arranged with most.
- Residence Klein Oliphantshoek (close to the center of town). Quiet
- Le Quartier Francais, 16 Huguenot Road, ☎ +27 (0)21 876-2151.
- Le Ballon Rouge (close to the center of town).
- La Galiniere Guest Cottages, Main Road, Franschhoek (Next to Allora Italian Restaurant), ☎ +27 (0)21 876 2579. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Comfortable and affordable self-catering accommodation in three charming cottages on a boutique wine farm close to the centre of the village. From R350 per person per night.
- La Chataine Wines (Off the R45 7km before Franschhoek see Google Maps), ☎ +21 (0)21 876 2579. La Chataigne Wines offers three wondefull self-catering cottages set on the Franschhoek river, a splendid pool in among the pear orchards as well as a wine tasting room with DSTV access and private tasting. R700 for 2 or R1100 for 4 / night.
- Visit one of the other towns in the Cape Winelands, like Stellenbosch and Paarl, or go to Cape Town and enjoy its attractions.
- Follow the N2 highway to the east to get to the famous Garden Route
- Go to the beach at Strand or Gordon's Bay (less crowded) and swim in the False Bay
- Take your golf clubs - Pearl Valley and Paarl golf clubs are within 15 minutes drive; Stellenbosch and De Zalze within 30 minutes. All are top quality lay-outs and prices are exceptionally cheap by European standards.