Franschhoek Valley is one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the whole world with its senses of intimacy and mystery which make every tourist feel very welcomed. The valley, its wine routes and cities are doing really well lately - constantly improving their standards, they started to be highly appreciated around the world. Just to list a few of their reasons for pride:
Cape Town was chosen by the New York Times and the Guardian to be the top holiday destination in the world for 2014. Around the same time Condé Nast listed La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek as being their choice of 'best hotel' in the world. The Franschhoek Wine Route won the title of best/most popular wine route in South Africa.
Still wondering why visit Franschhoek Valley? Winerist has prepared top 10 reasons for which you might consider traveling to this wonderful wine region:
1. Allow yourself to be pampered at one of the luxury accommodations
One of the best accommodations in Franschhoek Valley is La Residence. Romantically set between vineyards and mountains, this hotel offers the perfect setting for relaxation. Enjoy the antique furniture and stylish decorated rooms or take your pick from the many activities available, such as trout fishing, quad-biking, helicopter trips, paragliding, hot-air ballooning or a horseback tour of the surrounding wine farms. This establishment offers standards that exceed the recognized 5*, so don’t miss the chance to discover it!
Another wine estate offering accommodation is Holden Manz Country House, perfectly located between the Franschhoek and Stony Brook rivers and among the beautiful mountain range of the Franschhoek Valley. What’s more? The wines, vineyards, spa and restaurant will delight you with the welcoming and calming atmosphere. Enjoy a picnic by the river in this magical setting while sipping some of the finest wines.
La Clé des Montagnes is also a good choice. Being very close to the village of Franschhoek, the luxury private villas have their own swimming pools and verandas and are set among the picturesque vineyards, plum orchards and the beautiful mountains.
2. Explore the gourmet capital of South Africa
The Cape wineland region takes its pride for being the culinary capital of South Africa. Of the top ten restaurants in South Africa, Franschhoek has three and one in the top 50 in the world. From pizza to exquisite fine dining, everything is to be found in this wonderful valley. Our suggestions are:
Grande Provence for fancy dining in an industrial setting. Go during the summer and enjoy live music in the garden while trying the Springbok Carpaccio topped with button mushrooms & goats feta salad. Don’t miss the contemporary South African art exhibition just nearby the restaurant.
La Petite Ferme beside amazing dining, this restaurant offers one of the best views over Franschhoek Valley. Relax in the gardens and enjoy the countryside feeling you’ll get! Don’t forget to book in advance, as this little paradise is wished by many!
Le Quartier Francais is an absolute must for any visit to Franschoek, being on the top 50 restaurants around the world on San Pellegrino’s list.
3. Wine lovers and foodies paradise tours
Connoisseur wine tour guides will introduce you to the superb wines in classical Cape Dutch Manor Houses or boutique family vineyards. Follow the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route and be surprised by the innovative food, fine wine and lifestyle experiences Cape Winelands are providing. You’ll be amazed by the variety of the activities you can do, from food and wine pairings, Cap Classique tastings, chocolate making to cooking classes or olive oil tastings. Whether you want to visit famous estates or smaller boutique wineries, meet the winemakers or learn more about the winemaking history of the region, Franschhoek’s Wine Enthusiast Private Tour can accommodate all your needs. Or you can join the Franschhoek’s Wine Route Tour, perfect for first-timers in Franschhoek.
4. Don’t miss the award winning wineries
Boschendal Wines is one of the unique wineries which have it all: award winning wines, fine dining and a picturesque view of the Franschhoek Valley. This world class estate continually blends its rich past with a tireless commitment to constant innovation. Visit, relax and delight all of your senses!
Franschhoek Cellar - What to expect? Excellent wines and an opportunity to find out how Franschhoek Cellar developed from a cooperative into a private winery, which uses mostly locally sourced grapes. You will feel lots of passion put into this private cellar, founded in 1945. Here the winemakers are very found of their traditions and usually name their wines after historic locations.
La Motte - Being one of Cape Winelands stunning wineries, La Motte hides some of the internationally renowned wines. Its design is astonishly beautiful, with a refurbished tasting room where you can relax by the fireplace and enjoy the soothing atmosphere. Discover the award-winning wines with knowledgeable experts, who are always on hand to guide you through your visit and discuss La Motte’s current vintages, theme tastings or older vintages.
5. Go shopping on the quaint streets, admire the galleries and browse through their antiques.
6. Stunning nature and breathtaking views of the mountains
Many of the villages, such as Franschhoek village are surrounded by mountains, where once elephants lived. The area offers breathtaking views, gorges and valleys, as well as nice places to stay by the river. Try to enter Franschhoek from the spectacular route called Franschhoek Pass and you will be amazed by the surrounding mountain ranges and heavenly landscape.
7. Be active and explore the outdoors
Franschhoek Valley offers a wide range of activities, so it may be hard to choose when you have just a few days to experience it all. But there is definitely something for every taste and you’ll never get bored. If you like walking or hiking, there are amazing walking trails in the mountains surrounding the valley, especially in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Some of the other activities available in the area are cycling, horse-riding, fly fishing and golf.
8. Don’t miss the Festivals
Numerous festivals are held in Franschhoek Valley throughout the year: Cook Franschhoek, Franschhoek Winter Wines, Winter Sculpture Fair and many more. Don’t miss Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, which is the most popular.
9. Visit the Huguenot Museum
The Huguenot Museum and Memorial are worth a visit for learning about the development and history of Franschhoek Valley and admiring the collection of artifacts. A landmark of the mainly Victorian Cape Dutch styled village is the Huguenot monument and museum. This serves to explain the historic connection with France, otherwise echoed in the names of people, street names and traditional homesteads such as La Motte manor house.
10. Cape Dutch architecture mixed with modernism
Many entrepreneurs have made the valley their own home and enjoy their success in estates they have developed, so along with traditional beautiful buildings, expect modern interiors and architecture in new cellars, such as Boekenhoutskloof.
Written by Mihaela Pelea.