Beautiful Franschhoek: The Finest Base for South Africa’s Cape Winelands

Franschhoek is one among South Africa’s oldest settlements, based in 1688 by French Huguenots, and is surrounded by vineyards and craggy mountains. It’s solely an hour from Cape City and is the right escape from the town, a spot to winery-hop, eat at gourmand eating places, and calm down by the pool having fun with the beautiful surroundings. Stellenbosch is the extra well-known base for exploring the Cape Winelands (South Africa’s premier wine rising space), however locals suggest smaller Franschhoek and we cherished its appeal and scenic backdrop.

Franschhoek isn’t undiscovered—it will get busy in the summertime, however it doesn’t really feel overwhelming, particularly in case you keep simply exterior the village, amongst the tranquil vines. The gorgeous village consists of 1 major highway of whitewashed Cape Dutch homesteads the place you’ll be able to browse eating places, boutiques, and gourmand outlets. Eating places reap the benefits of domestically grown produce and also you’ll eat (and drink) very properly.

Lodging is especially upscale B&Bs and small boutique motels. They aren’t low cost, however we discovered them good worth for the extent of luxurious, private service, and scrumptious breakfasts. Franschhoek is the perfect place to splurge and luxuriate in a decadent few days. It was one among our favorite and most stress-free locations in South Africa.

The pool at La Providence guesthouse, Franschhoek

The pool at La Windfall guesthouse

Franschhoek Journey Information Contents

Issues to Do in Franschhoek
The place to Eat in Franschhoek
The place to Keep in Franschhoek
Franschhoek Transport
When to Go to Franschhoek
Franschhoek vs Stellenbosch
Franschhoek Map

Issues to Do in Franschhoek

Hop on the Franschhoek Wine Tram

Franschhoek wine tram reviewOne of many distinctive issues about Franschhoek is how simple and reasonably priced it’s to discover the close by wineries with out driving. Simply hop aboard the Wine Tram and hop off on the wineries you’d like to go to. The wineries are properly arrange for guests with a variety of cheap tasting choices, many together with meals pairings, in addition to eating places and gourmand picnics. We visited 5 wineries and it was an extremely enjoyable option to spend the day. Learn extra in our Franschhoek Wine Tram assessment.

Go to Babylonstoren Farm

Babylonstoren gardens, Franschhoek travel guideOh, you must go to Babylonstoren! It was our favorite vineyard, however it’s a lot greater than that. Courting again to 1692, Babylonstoren is a historic Cape Dutch farm, one of many first within the space that was created to develop produce for the ships that stopped in Cape City on their means from Europe to India. It’s a very particular place.

For those who can afford to remain right here, don’t hesitate (learn Bridge and Balloons’ assessment from their honeymoon keep), however sadly we needed to persist with a day go to. Babylonstoren is a 20-minute drive from the centre of Franschhoek and is accessible on the purple line of the Wine Tram, however there may be a lot to try this I like to recommend driving or taking a taxi and spending the entire day right here.

The beautiful gardens at Babylonstoren Farm, home to Babel one of the best restaurants in Franschhoek for vegetariansWe began with the free 1.5-hour backyard tour at 10 am (reserving important). It was fascinating to discover the three.5 hectares (eight acres) of superbly designed gardens the place every part is edible or has medicinal worth. We sniffed and sampled as we strolled and our information defined the natural strategies they use.

The various gardens function every part from cacti to citrus timber and embrace quirky corners like a human-sized hen’s nest hidden in a bamboo grove, a aromatic chamomile garden the place we had been inspired to take away our sneakers, and a tunnel (“The Snail”) with huge overhanging gourds. Each morning the gardeners decide the produce to make use of within the eating places and rooms. Even the bogs featured beautiful smelling bouquets of herbs.

The Snail at Babylonstoren, Franschhoek

The Snail at Babylonstoren

We ended our tour within the Greenhouse, Babylonstoren’s informal eatery, with a glass of scrumptious grape iced tea and a freshly picked yellow plum.

The Greenhouse restaurant at Babylonstoren, Franschhoek

The Greenhouse Restaurant

Subsequent it was time for an excellent lunch at Babel, the farm’s advantageous eating restaurant (learn our Franschhoek eating places put up for particulars). Bookings are important and open two months prematurely. For those who haven’t booked, you can eat on the Greenhouse or have a tasting platter within the wine tasting room.

Beetroot risotto at Babel restaurant in Franschhoek, great for vegetarians

Beetroot risotto at Babel

After lunch we headed over to the beautiful wine tasting room, fortunately air-conditioned however with partitions of glass with views of the vineyards and mountains. We shared the 5 wine tasting for 30R ($2.25/£1.70) and cherished all of the wines, particularly the Viognier that we’d had with lunch—we picked up a bottle for 115R ($eight.75/£6.75). You may as well be a part of one of many cellar excursions (50R together with a tasting of 5 wines).

Wine tasting room at Babylonstoren, Franschhoek

Wine tasting room at Babylonstoren

We completed our day within the farm store shopping for plums, eggs and bread from the farm. There’s additionally a Scented Store promoting heavenly-smelling magnificence merchandise that might make implausible items.

We had been very a lot tempted to investigate a couple of room for the night time as we didn’t need to depart, however we reluctantly dragged ourselves away. We fell in love with Babylonstoren and will certainly be staying in a single day on our subsequent go to to South Africa. Don’t miss it!

Entrance to Babylonstoren prices 10R ($zero.75/£zero.60) or 20R ($1.50/£1.20) on weekends and the proceeds go to an area kids’s charity.

Picnic on a Wine Property

Werf picnic area at Boschendal, Franschhoek

Werf picnic space at Boschendal

South Africans are loopy for picnics. We had extra throughout our two months in Cape City than we’ve had within the final 5 years. Normally we picked up some tasty treats from a deli, however within the Winelands we wished to strive one of many catered picnics that many wineries provide.

We selected the Boschendal Property which has two picnic areas—the casual Werf and the costlier Rhone, which has tables. We went for Werf and the setting was beautiful on lush lawns by a pavilion and pond with mountain views and many timber for shade. There’s a playground so it’s supreme for youths, however there’s loads of house for privateness. Beanbags, blankets and low chairs are offered which made lounging on the grass extremely snug. There’s a busy highway alongside the property although, so the visitors noise detracts from the tranquillity somewhat.

Werf picnic area at BoschendalThe Werf space is semi-serviced, so that you order your drinks on the bar earlier than you sit down, however the workers brings over the beanbags and picnic.

Sadly, the meals was disappointing, a minimum of for us vegetarians. We had been excited that Boschendal makes use of produce from their gardens, however the meals lacked flavour. We had 4 forms of salad, none of them dressed, and the one pot of salad dressing was boring. We initially weren’t given any cheese (which is on the vegetarian menu) and I needed to request it. The baguette, hummus, beetroot dip, and olives had been good, however total it wasn’t an thrilling meal and we a lot most popular the salads and dips we picked up from Giovanni’s Deli for our picnics in Cape City. The ultimate disappointment was being given a fruit salad for dessert whereas everybody else had ice-cream (and the vegetarian menu on their web site stated we might too).

It wasn’t a horrible meal, and the meals may properly be higher for meat-eaters, however we had anticipated extra from an upmarket wine property that grows its personal greens.

I do nonetheless suggest having a picnic on a wine property. It’s a soothing option to spend a day, consuming and having fun with the solar and views. Subsequent time I might strive a picnic at Mont Rochelle the place we had a scrumptious cheese plate on the Wine Tram. Getaway has extra picnic concepts within the Cape Winelands. 

Cease in Stellenbosch for a Cupcake and Wine Pairing

Cupcake and wine pairing at Delheim in StellenboschOn our means from Cape City to Franschhoek we determined to cease at one of many wineries in Stellenbosch. We selected Delheim as a result of they provide a novel cupcake and wine pairing. Advance bookings are important and it prices 75R ($5.65/£four.35). We shared a tasting as Simon was driving.

We paired 4 wines with cupcakes, and whereas the wines weren’t spectacular, we cherished the cupcakes with uncommon flavours like pomegranate, rooibos, pumpkin and cinnamon, and makataan (an area melon), and it was fascinating to see how they improved the wine. We left with a bottle of their very drinkable pinotage rosé for 100R ($7.50/£5.80).

When you’ve got extra time for Stellenbosch wineries, the Thelema and Tokara wineries on the prime of the Helshoogte Cross had been really useful to us, and Travis from Additional Pack of Peanuts cherished the small, rustic Annandale vineyard.

Wine Style on Horseback

We didn’t get to do that, however it’s on the record for subsequent time as I like the thought of wine tasting on horseback. Paradise Stables provides four-hour rides on purebred Arabian horses with stops for wine tasting at Rickety Bridge and Mont Rochelle. Non-winery rides are additionally accessible.

The place to Eat in Franschhoek

Green starter at Babel, one of the best restaurants in Franschhoek and part of the gorgeous Babylonstoren farm

“Inexperienced” starter at Babel

Franschhoek is usually described because the gourmand capital of South Africa. There are a outstanding variety of advantageous eating eating places to select from within the village and on the encompassing wine estates. Consuming will likely be a spotlight of your keep, so be sure you plan prematurely and guide a desk for fashionable eating places (generally months forward).

These had been our favorite eating places in Franschhoek:

  • Babel – By far our favorite restaurant. E-book two months prematurely for Babylonstoren’s farm-to-fork restaurant that makes use of produce from their gardens.
  • Foliage – Stunning, inventive dishes utilizing foraged substances.
  • La Petite Ferme – Winery and mountain views and good meals.
  • Marigold – Good Indian with loads of vegetarian choices.
  • The Nation Kitchen – Take pleasure in tapas and cheese/meat platters whereas wine tasting on Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle property.
  • Le Lude – Scrumptious canapé and MCC (glowing wine) pairing with a vegetarian possibility accessible. Good for a snack on the Franschhoek Wine Tram.

For extra particulars, see my information to one of the best eating places in Franschhoek for vegetarians (all nice for meat eaters too).

If you’re not vegetarian, Ryan’s Kitchen is meant to be implausible, however I didn’t discover their one veggie possibility very interesting.

Sadly, The Tasting Room, probably the greatest eating places on the earth, closed in April 2017. The excellent news is that it’ll reopen in August as La Petite Colombe, a brand new restaurant headed by the staff from La Colombe. The vegetarian tasting menu at La Colombe in Constantia was probably the greatest meals of our lives, so that is properly value looking for.

The place to Keep in Franschhoek

La Windfall guesthouse

 La Providence guesthouse pool in Franschhoek

The beautiful pool at La Windfall

There are various fantastic locations to remain in Franschhoek and we determined to splurge on someplace particular. La Windfall is a small boutique guesthouse on a wine farm ideally positioned only a 15-minute stroll to the village however in beautiful, tranquil countryside. It solely opened in 2014 and is run by the welcoming Gary and Ellen who’re pleased to offer recommendation on the native space.

La Providence guesthouse driveway, Franschhoek

La Windfall driveway

La Windfall makes an impression as quickly as you arrive and make your means by the gates alongside the lengthy driveway lined with cypress timber in direction of the grand Cape Dutch manor home the place the homeowners reside. The stainless grounds function cabernet sauvignon vines, dozens of rose varieties, lush lawns, and a fountain in a duck pond that creates a rainbow within the mornings. Throughout are rugged mountains.

La Providence guesthouse view, FranschhoekThe pool home is the point of interest for visitors with a breakfast space, well-stocked self-service bar (strive their very own wines), and cozy lounge. The infinity pool is what offered me on this place—the glowing blue water results in a spectacular view of the vines and craggy mountains. There are plentiful extremely snug solar loungers (with huge pool towels accessible) and a round seating space surrounding the fireplace pit for cool nights.

La Providence poolLa Windfall has seven luxurious rooms. We opted for one of many costlier Terrace rooms (3700R/$280/£214 in excessive season) on the entrance of the four-room guesthouse with a terrace overlooking the duck pond and mountains beneath a pergola of vines turning purple within the late summer time. The 2 Backyard Pool rooms in the back of the guesthouse share a small personal pool. Cheaper rooms are over the storage and not using a terrace however nonetheless look beautiful.

La Providence guesthouse in Franschhoek

La Windfall guesthouse with 4 rooms

Our room (Room 1) was spacious with an unlimited comfortable mattress and plentiful pillows. The trendy design is usually easy with pale gray partitions however there are extravagant touches just like the silver ball chandelier, steel suitcase bedside tables, daring art work, and vibrant pink cushions. There are a few huge home windows so you’ll be able to benefit from the view from mattress (though folks do stroll by sometimes).

Terrace Room 1 at La Providence guesthouse, FranschhoekThe room is well-equipped with air-con, a Nespresso machine, a minibar stocked with water, beer and their very own wine, and pretty good WiFi (three.5 Mbps down, zero.three Mbps up, which is healthier than we acquired in Cape City). The lavatory options an enormous bathe and high quality toiletries. The one factor I missed was a bathrobe (I later discovered that they often provide them at check-in).

Our terrace at La Providence guesthouse, Franschhoek

Our terrace

The view of the duck pond from our terrace at La Providence

The view of the duck pond from our terrace

Breakfast is eaten overlooking the pool and consists of a wonderful buffet with scrumptious cheeses, meat, bread, granola, yoghurt and the right fruit salad stuffed with berries, pomegranate and coconut. Each day there are a few specials—a savoury dish like sweetcorn fritters or cheese stuffed mushrooms and a candy deal with like pancakes, muffins or the decadently divine croissant bread pudding with berries and chocolate. For those who nonetheless have house you’ll be able to order eggs and bacon as properly.

The breakfast buffet at La Providence guesthouse, Franschhoek

The breakfast buffet

The one draw back to La Windfall is that strolling again from the village after darkish isn’t really useful as there’s no avenue lighting and taxis are costly at 100R ($7.50/£5.80) for the quick experience. We walked in throughout the day with no issues.

We adored La Windfall—the tranquil location, beautiful pool, winery and mountain views, snug room, scrumptious breakfast, and the nice and cozy and pleasant workers. It’s the right place to remain in Franschhoek.

Sunset at La Providence guesthouse

Sundown at La Windfall

Funds Choices

We visited throughout the busy summer time season when costs are larger. You’ll get significantly better offers within the winter months from Could to September.

Lodging in Franschhoek tends to be upmarket, however you will discover cheaper choices on and Airbnb from $60 an evening comparable to Auberge Alouette Guesthouse. E-book properly prematurely in excessive season.

If you wish to reap the benefits of the native wines, I like to recommend selecting someplace in strolling distance of the village to economize on taxis. 

Franschhoek Transport

Getting There

Renting a automobile offers you probably the most flexibility in Franschhoek and leases are cheap in South Africa. I used the comparability websites Rental Vehicles and Kayak to seek out one of the best deal, and a nine-day rental with Hertz in Cape City price us 1950R ($147/£113).

For those who don’t need to drive, you can get an Uber or taxi from Cape City, however that is costly at round 600R ($45/£35) every means once I regarded on Uber. Probably the most reasonably priced option to get from Cape City to Franschhoek is with Cape Camoot a brand new shared shuttle service beginning in June 2017 for 99R ($7.55/£5.80) every means. This makes visiting Franschhoek and not using a automobile rather more accessible and we’d think about doing that on our subsequent go to. 

Franschhoek is simply an hour from Cape City so is usually a facet journey from the town or a part of a South Africa highway journey. You may go to on a day journey, however it’s such a fantastic, stress-free place with a lot to see, drink and eat that it’s value a minimum of two or three days. We may have stayed longer than our three nights.

Getting Round

If you wish to restrict the quantity you drive (that is wine nation in spite of everything!), keep in or near the village. The Wine Tram permits you to go to wineries with out driving. You possibly can even stroll or cycle to lots of the wineries. Another choice is to rent a tuktuk to take you on a tour of the wineries—Tuktuk Franschhoek provides half day excursions (tastings not included) for 180R ($13.70/£10.60) per individual. 

You’ll sometimes discover an Uber dropping somebody off in Franschhoek, however you’ll be able to’t depend on them. We managed to get one to lunch, which price us 28R ($2.10/£1.60), however we needed to name an area taxi again for 100R ($7.50/£5.80). This was the usual worth that we paid for the quick journey from the village again to our resort (we walked throughout the day and acquired a taxi after darkish). 

When to Go to Franschhoek

La Bri harvest on Franschhoek wine tram

Harvest at La Bri vineyard

We visited Franschhoek in early March which is the tip of the summer time and the grape harvest was underway. The climate was good—superb clear blue skies and 30ºC temperatures throughout the day and cooler nights (I hardly ever wanted a cardigan). The summer time excessive season runs from October to April when the world is busier and costlier.

It’s nonetheless value visiting within the winter from Could to September. You in all probability gained’t be swimming and also you’ll want a jacket, however the space by no means will get too chilly and lots of the motels and wineries have cosy fireplaces. It’ll even be quieter and you will get some implausible resort offers.

Franschhoek vs Stellenbosch

Earlier than we visited South Africa, Stellenbosch was the Cape Winelands city that I heard about probably the most. However as I began planning many individuals stated they most popular Franschhoek because it’s smaller, prettier, quieter, surrounded by mountains, and plenty of eating places and wine estates are accessible on foot or on the Wine Tram. 

We didn’t spend a lot time in Stellenbosch (simply Delheim vineyard and a espresso store) so I can’t examine the 2 extensively, however the causes above had been sufficient to promote me on Franschhoek. Some great benefits of Stellenbosch are that it’s a much bigger College city with extra happening and costs are a bit decrease because it’s not as tourist-orientated. 

If you would like extra buzz and non-wine issues to do, then you definitely would possibly want Stellenbosch, however for a soothing foodie break, you’ll be able to’t go improper with charming Franschhoek. 

Franschhoek Map

Franschhoek was one among our favorite locations in South Africa and is the perfect place to deal with your self to a couple decadent days of stress-free and having fun with the scrumptious meals, wine and beautiful surroundings.

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Franschhoek is a scenic village in South Africa's Cape Winelands. It's the perfect place for a decadent few days wine tasting, eating in gourmet restaurants and enjoying the stunning vineyard and mountain views. Click through to learn everything you need to know for a great stay.

Are you planning a visit in 2017? See our Gear and Assets web page for our favorite instruments that will help you plan the right journey.