FRANSCHHOEK IS BEST KNOWN FOR being the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, having an extra-ordinary selection of excellent restaurants disproportional to the small size of the village. At least one of its restaurants, and as many as three, have been in the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list every year, including Le Quartier Francais, Grande Provence, Reubens, Monneaux and Bijoux.
Franschhoek is also known as the Wedding Capital of South Africa, with weekend after weekend booked out when a wedding or two takes place on a wine estate in the beautiful valley …
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT the Huguenot Monument, at the end of the main road, as it symbolises and recognises the hard work the French Huguenots put into developing this beautiful winelands area, called the “French Corner”, giving Franschhoek its name (originally it was called Oliphantshoek, when the elephants roamed over the mountains).
THE BEST VIEW PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN from the Franschhoek Pass, La Petite Ferme and Dieu Donne, with fantastic views over the valley.
OTHER HAPPY SNAPS CAN BE TAKEN in the vineyards, especially in autumn, when the leaves turn a beautiful shade of red and yellow. In winter the snow-capped mountains also make for good photographs.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, I LIKE TO sit at a pavement restaurant, enjoying a snack and a cappuccino at Reubens or at the Salmon Bar, or I drive to Cafe BonBon.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO sit inside a restaurant with a roaring fireplace such as Reubens and Café BonBon, with a good plate of soup.
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS all year round, because each season has its own charm: in summer it is very hot, reaching 40°C, making it ideal to have a swim, and sit outside to enjoy one’s meals at the restaurants; in spring there are lots of weddings in Franschhoek, and it is so exciting to see the bridal groups at the NG Church on the main road, or on one of the wine estates; in winter the snow on the mountains and cold are invigorating, and in autumn the vineyards are beautiful as their leaves change colour.
MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOTS IS Café BonBon – there is nothing to beat this beautiful small-holding (La Petite Dauphine), with a lovely view onto fruit and olive trees, and to enjoy their friendly service and scrumptious home-cooked food.
Allee Bleue is also conveniently situated at the entrance of Franschhoek, opposite the road leading to Pniel and Stellenbosch, and serves great breakfasts, lunches, coffees and gourmet picnics. The chef Dane Newton and the F&B Manager Desmond Spannenberg are super kind, generous and hands-on, and nothing is too much trouble for them. There is always something new coming from Allee Bleue, and it is the largest wedding reception venue in the area.
FOR LUNCH I SUGGEST Café BonBon, or under the tree in the courtyard at Reubens. If you like salmon, go to the Salmon Bar, which offers salmon in almost every dish.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS Reubens, try the calf’s liver and mash, just like mom used to make it!
MY FAVOURITE eating / drinking / working / planning / relaxing / clear-the-head SPOT IS is Café BonBon!
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN TRY dinner at Reuben’s.
IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, GO TO the Station Pub, the Elephant & Barrel, Kalfies, the brand new Pick ‘n Pay, the Jazz by the Cape Dutch Connection at La Brasserie on a Friday evening in summer, or the NG Church on Sunday morning.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK – probably relative, in that the village is largely dead at 11 pm – try the new Station Pub or the Elephant & Barrel.
FRANSCHHOEK’S BEST KEPT SECRET IS is Café BonBon, and its good wines – they are not as well known as their counterparts in Stellenbosch. Boekenhoutskloof has been a 5-star Platter wine guide winner for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for the past 10 years, and Chamonix and Stony Brook are two brand new 5-star Platter wine guide winners (2010 edition).
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS to attend the wonderful classical music concerts at La Motte, and the Classic Music festivals which Christopher Duigan organises in Franschhoek twice a year, with non-stop concerts over the weekend.
FOR SOME CULTURE I LIKE TO go to the art gallery at Grande Provence, as they exhibit the work of South Africa’s leading artists.
TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO sleep at my guest house in Franschhoek – it is so peaceful in Franschhoek, and one seems to sleep deeper and better.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, TRY a walk in the Franschhoek mountains – get a permit from the Tourism Bureau, with a map, and do take water and a hat, rent a bike from Manic Cycles, or do winetasting on horseback.
MY FAVOURITE décor SHOPS ARE are La Grange, Mystique and Ebony.
MY FAVOURITE TOURIST SPOT IS is at the Salmon Bar’s courtyard, as one can see a collection of locals and tourists.
IF YOU ARE HERE IN May, join in the fun at the Literary Festival, which invites a collection of local and international writers to talk about their books. In July, on the weekend closest to 14 July, the well-known Bastille Festival takes place, with lots of wine-tasting and food-tasting on offer.
In October Franschhoek Uncorked takes place, when the wine estates tempt one to their farms, to experience their wines as well as tasty food attractions. The highlight is the Champagne Festival, on the first weekend in December, but it always manages to reach close to 40°C over this weekend!
MY FAVOURITE MUSEUM IS at Solms Delta, where the archeological artefacts which were found whilst the farm buildings were renovated are displayed, in an informal manner. One of the farm residents explains each item, and the pride is evident. Their restaurant Fyndraai is excellent for a historic overview of food at the Cape many years ago. Check out the mead made from honey, a complimentary drink offered with the meal.
MY FAVOURITE BUILDING IS the NG Church, for its beautiful thatched roof and serious size, making a dramatic statement on the main road. The acoustics are excellent, and the church makes a lovely venue for classical concerts.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING IS A fun outing is a pizza at Col’cacchio or at Allora, both having jungle gyms for the kids.
BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS Allora and Col’cacchio, or Kalfies.
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS our Whale Cottage Franschhoek!
WE GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY by buying all our guest chocolates for turndowns from Huguenot Fine Chocolates, an empowerment project run by local Franschhoek residents from Groendal, who are in a partnership with Penny Gordon.
I Love Franschhoek Because of its beauty, its peace and quiet, and its fabulous restaurants – one is spoilt for choice.
Useful Franschhoek Links:
- Franschhoek Attractions
- Things to Do in Franschhoek
- Franschhoek Accommodation
- Franschhoek Hotels
- Western Cape Accommodation
- Accommodation South Africa
Whale Cottage Franschhoek +27 (0)21 433-2100
Le Quartier Francais +27 (0)21 876-2151
Grande Provence +27 (0)21 876-8600
Reubens Restaurant +27 (0)21 876-3772
Monneaux Restaurant +27 (0)21 876-3386
Cafe BonBon (at La Petite Dauphine) +27 (0)21 876-3936
Allèe Bleue +27 (0)21 874-1021
Salmon Bar at The Yard +27 (0)21 876-4591}
The Elephant & Barrel Pub +27 (0)21 876 4127
La Brassiere +27 (0)21 876-3420
La Motte +27 (0)21 876-3119
Franschhoek Tourism Bureau +27 (0)21 876-3603
Manic Cycles +27 (0)21 876-4956
La Grange Interiors +27 (0)21 876-2155
Ebony +27 (0)21 876-4477
Allora Franschhoek +27 (0)21 876-4375
Col’ Cacchio +27 (0)876-4222
Huguenot Fine Chocolates +27 (0)21 876-4096
Huguenot Memorial Museum +27 (0)83 279-7960
The Solms Delta Museum Van de Caab +27 (0)21 874-3937