The French corner of the Cape, Franschhoek lies in one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the world, just 45 minutes’ from Cape Town and within half an hour of the Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington and Somerset West wine routes.This traditionally French town is the food and wine capital of the country and one would be hard pressed to dispute the claim. Eight of the top 100 restaurants in the country are found in Franschhoek, there are nigh on 30 wine cellars and over 28 restaurants from which to choose for your gastronomic experience. The Franschhoek valley has recently launched a Cap Classique route that includes nine cellars, within a distance of 4 km, in a combined marketing initiative. The sparkling wine tour includes teaching visitors about the methods of making Cap Classique in a unique attempt to add value to wine consumption.
Originally known as the Valley of the Huguenots, a community of French Huguenots were granted land in this valley by the Dutch government of the Cape, after fleeing their homeland when Protestantism was outlawed in France in 1685. Today, many of the wine farms still bear their original French names and most of these farms have beautiful examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Franschhoek’s village has a wonderful collection of art and antique shops and galleries and the main streets are lined with restaurants and coffee shops. It is easy to spend a day here and it serves as an excellent springboard to other wine routes and the Four Passes Fruit Route, of which Franschhoek is also part; and there are a number of walking trails in the surrounding mountains, for the more energetic.