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Your guide to Franschhoek
All About Franschhoek
Centuries of agriculture and wine production have turned the city of Franschhoek into the culinary and wine capital of South Africa, aided by the region’s proximity to Cape Town. As the first place in the country to receive a wine appellation, this corner of the Western Cape is best experienced by visiting the farms and vineyards that produce the region’s celebrated fare. One of its most popular attractions is the Franschhoek wine tram, which carries you through the countryside and stops at wineries along the way.
Franschhoek is Dutch for “French Corner.” In the 17th century, a migration of Huguenots arrived from France and built farms named after their hometowns; the imprint of these early settlers can be felt in the town’s Parisian-style cafes and annual French-rooted festivals.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Franschhoek
Located 900 feet above sea level, Franschhoek is blessed with relatively consistent, mild weather year round. Warm weather and sunshine make visiting Franschhoek Valley especially pleasant. Planning a trip between November and December will capitalize on South Africa’s comfortable late spring and early summer weather. The temperatures rise to their peak in the summer months of January and February, with very little rainfall threatening outdoor events. In March and April, summer gives way to fall’s cooler temperatures. Every May, South African and international authors come to Franschhoek’s annual Literary Festival to give readings and run writing workshops. June, the peak of winter, is the wettest month in the valley, and the days are crisp, though freezing temperatures are extremely rare. Along with the cooler weather, Franschhoek’s Bastille Festival livens up the streets in July as it pays homage to its French Huguenot heritage with a celebration of food and wine.
Top things to do in Franschhoek
Franschhoek Wine Country
The outskirts of Franschhoek are covered in rolling vineyards and backed by mountains with sawtooth ridgelines. The vineyards make use of the panoramic vistas on their outdoor patios, the perfect settings for taste-testing wines that are part of the region’s Appellation Grand Prestige. The grapes selected for the Appellation include Sémillon, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
Ten hiking trails wind through Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve within the UNESCO-designated Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve. Trek through the Franschhoek mountain chain for superlative views of the valley. You’ll pass by a diverse range of native plants such as fynbos, a fine-leafed shrub whose colorful flowers have numerous skinny petals. Although baboons, klipspringers (antelope), and leopards live in the park, sightings of these creatures are much rarer than those of birds and reptiles.
Franschhoek Village Market
Every Saturday, this iconic market on a court bordered with oak trees is packed with merchants selling artisanal products and foods. The aromas of spices and leather fill the air as you wander among stalls stocked with handmade jewelry, ceramics, and locally grown produce. While you shop, you can sample a variety of dishes and fruits in this beautiful outdoor setting.