Now, if you want French cuisine, great food, and old town vibes, Franschhoek is the place to be.
I recently talked about Stellenbosch with a short introduction to the entire Cape Winelands but have yet to really touch base on what makes them all unique. Well, to be fair, it’s arguably difficult to find a difference as many of them will remind you of Europe.
Anyway, Franschhoek has a larger French influence than Stellenbosch, despite being part of its municipality, with its name literally meaning: ‘French Corner.’ Where it has won numerous gastronomy awards like Belgian Patisserie for Belgian pralines has been dubbed as one of the best 50 restaurants in the world.
More than that, they also have a stronger wine culture as its nestled between mountains and at least 6 vine yards alongside estates which host the most dinner parties outside the city of Cape Town. Now, I’ve compiled a small guide to get you acquainted with the beauty of Franscchoek and why I think it’s definitely worth a visit!
How do you get here?
Well, to be fair, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem! It’s actually a two hour car ride from Cape Town itself. Please note Stellenbosch can be a little farther than expected, and so this would be a great trip that isn’t too far from the city itself. We began our tour around this area by eating at one of the nearby villas (more on that later) before spending the rest of the afternoon here and then go wine tasting afterwards.
There’s no public transportation to and from Franschhoek-Cape Town but you’ll be happy to note that you can book a car service via your hotel easily. But you always have the option to go on the entire wine tour for the day too.
Where to stay while in Franschhoek?
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House
Nestled in the heart of the Cape Winelands, this 5-star luxury accommodation couldn’t come at a fairer price! You’ll be greeted with birds chirping you awake in the morning, outside a balcony which overlooks the mountains surrounding this tiny town. You’ll feel like you’re in Lucerne (Switzerland) while staying warm and cozy in the outskirts of a French Quarter.
Address: 5 Akademie Street, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa
Tel: +00 27 87 550 4332 | Website
The Last Word Franschhoek
If you’ve ever wondered what living in a beautiful antique home at the outskirts of Cape Town would feel like, The Last Word is certainly your best bet. Although it’s located near the centre of town, you’ll be greeted with your own luxury breakfast at their dining hall or a 5-minute walk from all the best gourmet eats in the world.
Address: 68 Hugenote Street, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa
Tel: +00 27 87 551 7661 | Website
What can you do while you’re here?
Well, as any art lover, I really loved being able to visit the galleries and buy art work! It reminds me a lot about Western Europe and even the style of painting but I love artists have added their own flare to it. I swear this town reminds me so much of France.
Anyway, here are some neat guide lines I’ve found along the way to make an overnight stay here even more memorable:
Franschhoek Wine Tram
The town has become so well known for their hop on-hop off tram for their wine tours! There’s a tram that goes around almost all the vine yards (that’s about 6!) for you, to make it easier to go to your wine tasting event. You’ll have to book in advance though since this is the most popular tourist attraction around town.
Besides the food and wine, this tiny town has also become known for its scenic drives. The entire pass allows you to drive around the entire area, or take the tram (a different one) for you. Oh, but also — one of the best things about doing this is how you’ll be able to step off the tram and take a walk around the pass! It’s both a great exercise and a spot (or spots) to take photos!
Where to eat?
I refuse to think you won’t have a great place to eat while you’re here! That’s why besides the Belgian Patisserie, I’ve taken the liberty of searching for their best restaurants and world renowned dishes. Here are my top 3 recommendations!
Even if you have to book this weeks before, as a recent TripAdvisor reviewer advised, it’s one of the best restaurants you’ll ever eat at. Right at the centre of town, you’ll get to experience intercontinental vegan food that’s big on wood fire and ovens rather than the traditional fried stuff we’ve been so used to.
Address: 11 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa | Website
If you’d like to try good African Fusion Cuisine, then Ryan’s Kitchen is highly recommended! The style and blend of flavours is certainly unique (Read: I’ve never had African food before) which makes it all the better to keep coming back. Honestly, this is one of those moments I wish I knew more about food than whether it tastes good or bad. I’m sorry.
Opening Hours: 12:30-2:30pm, 6:30-9:30pm
Address: 1 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa | Website
Pierneef a La Motte Restaurant
If and only if you’re really in the mood for some French cuisine, check out Pierneef a La Motte Restaurant! Okay, who am I kidding? They have really good French food. Although they shy away from the typical ones, I’d you to know they do have some of the classics like your old dated back croissant. Oh, and they also have some dishes that’s a mix of French, Meditteranean, and African dishes too.
Address: La Motte Wine Estate, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa (Formerly Pierneef a la Motte) | Website
The wine tasting experience:
We had wine at La Motte first before heading over to another vine yard. Their specialty includes a Cabernet-Sauvignon Shiraz where the taste becomes stronger and smoother along the edges. However, you have the additional option to choose a Merlot instead where it tends to be sweeter.
Next, we headed to Hazendal Wine Estate where we were greeted with beer, cheese, and lots more of wine. I like it here especially since this is where I learned you can pair wine with cheese on bread and a special jam that makes the taste so much better. I honestly wish I could describe it a little better for you — but the cheese just blew my mind (this is coming from a non-cheese eater, thanks). You’ll have the same selections with La Motte but instead of the usual introductions to each set, they’ll give you a brief history of their wine and teach you how to make good choices for your next dinner party.
Beyond the wine tasting…
Lastly, I wanted to say we also had lunch at Creation Pairings (the villa I was telling you earlier about) where we were served inside a small villa that housed antique paintings and a beautiful, quiet landscape of the mountains surrounding this area. Although we didn’t try their wine tasting session, you can walk around the grounds as much as you’d like or sit near a tree to read a good book. The food was purely intercontinental with a mix of African spices and pudding! Lots and lots of African pudding.