If you are from Cape Town, you probably know about the small town of Franschhoek. Franschhoek is approximately 80kms from Cape Town and is situated in between the mountains and surrounds by dozens of wine farms. There are two main routes to take to Franschhoek, via the N1 through Paarl or the R310 through Stellenbosch. Personally I like to take the Stellenbosch route and pass by the vineyards and drive on Helshoogte road through the mountains. Franschoek is fairly small and there isn’t much to do other than eat expensive food and drink good wine. That is why I recommend travelling through Stellenbosch so you can stop off at the Stellenbosch Slow Market to pick up breakfast. I have written numerous posts about markets, such as the Route 44 Market, which is also in Stellenbosch.
After you have filled up on breakfast and browsed the markets, it is time to hit the wine farms for some wine tasting. There are numerous wine farms around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. You can pick up maps in both cities, which show where the wine farms are in each town. The way most wine farms work in South Africa is that you pay approximately R50 per person to taste about 5 wines, but if you buy a bottle from the wine farm, the wine tasting is free. Wine tasting is what most students do on weekends because it is a relatively cheap activity.
Matthew and I decided to stop by Tokara wine farm. Tokara is on the pricer side of the wine tasting spectrum, but the view and wine is worth every cent!
There are many other wine farms in Stellenbosch that you can also visit:
There are so many, but these are just a few that I recommend.
After Tokara, we headed to Franschhoek. On to the next wine farm! We decided to go to Haute Cabrière. To be honest, Matty and I were not impressed with this wine farm. We felt that we were rushed in and out and it smelt strongly of paraffin. You feel like you have entered a cave and being rushed limited my enjoyment of the wine and the environment.
Franschhoek has a Saturday market which sells food, jewelry, books and crafts. Matty and I indulged at the Greek Food stand, however we actually ate chicken nuggets and chips. There are many more food options than that, don’t worry, we were just being boring.
After lunch we went to Chamonix. This wine farm was very cosy, Matty and I spent about two hours talking without even noticing the time. The fire place was perfect to keep it toasty and warm inside. They even poured us an extra glass of wine.
Afterwards we headed to our accommodation. Accommodation in Franschhoek can be pretty pricey and in summer it is fully booked months in advance. To find accommodation we booked through booking.com, which was quick and easy. We settled on Les Chambres Guest House. The accommodation was lovely, perfect for a weekend getaway. Even though there is no television inside the room, the fire place made up for it. Matty and I decided to light a fire and it kept the room warm the entire night while we slept. The location was very central too, we were able to walk to the main road in a minute and find the closet bar (Elephant and Barrel) in five minutes (to watch the rugby, of course).
After the rugby we headed to one of many fancy restaurants Franschhoek has to offer. We choose to eat at The French Connection Bistro. This little restaurant is not made for student budgets, but the food was really good. Out of the two of us, I definitely chose the best meal of the night.
Things to do in Franschhoek, other than wine tasting and eating, is fairly limited. The town consists mainly of one main road (Huguenot Road) where everything happens. There is a micro brewery called Tuk Tuk Microbrewery and the wine trams which transport you to different wine farms in “trams”. I say “trams” because apparently not all routes actually use trams but rather mini buses designed to look like trams. The Wine Trams, sound like a great idea but it is quite expensive considering that you still have to pay for wine tasting at each farm.
After wondering around the town and browsing the shops, we decided it was time to head home. I enjoy writing writing these blogposts about my weekends away. Exploring areas and finding out the good, bad and the nasty about them is fun. And sharing these memories with my better half is even better. Hopefully I shall have another opportunity to go away soon.