This sybaritic little town is situated smack in the middle of some gorgeous scenery in the heart of the Winelands. It’s one of those places that became fashionable some time around the 1980s and things just snowballed. Fabulous restaurants line the main street, there are some lovely little guest houses and – of course – great wineries.
In fact, Franschhoek has a special place in the history of South African wine
making. The name, which means French Corner, came about in the 17th
Century when a whole bunch of French Huguenots, who were fleeing
persecution by the Catholic Church in France, settled here. They
weren’t the first to grow and produce wine in the Cape but they
certainly contributed a certain flair that the Dutch didn’t really
Notwithstanding their Gallic skill with an oaken vat,
immigrants became totally integrated into the colonial scene and soon
started speaking Dutch – and then Afrikaans. So much so, in fact, that
many South Africans consider surnames such as du Toit, Labuschagne and
Marais to be Afrikaans. But, even though no French is spoken here,
there are strong links to France. A pretty monument to the Huguenots
dominates the town and – in July – Franschhoek celebrates Bastille Day
with a flourish unmatched except, perhaps, in Paris.
There is an excellent paragliding launch site in the mountains on the outskirts of the town, and the nearby pine plantations offer some great mountain biking.
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