The Franschhoek (“French corner”) valley was settled by French Huguenots in 1688 and, to a large extent, has retained its French flavour. The town was originally known as Olifants Hoek (“Elephants Corner”) on account of the elephants who used the protected valley as a “maternity ward”. The town lies in the valley that is protected on three sides by soaring mountains. The beautifully restored manor houses lend grace to the fruit-laden orchards and spreading vineyards.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: The Boland Hiking Trail can be completed in two to three days. The trail starts at the Nuweberg Nature Reserve at Grabouw and ends at the Franschhoek Pass. Hikers should first get a permit from Jonkershoek.
La Motte Forestry Station: Enjoy several walking and mountain-biking trails, fly-fishing and horse-riding. Permits are required to visit the station.
Art And Crafts
Art galleries, craft and antique shops: The main street of the town is a shopping Mecca.
Carpets: Uniquely knotted carpets and other woven products are sold at Kei Carpets on Le Mouillage Farm, 4 km from the town.
Franschoek Wine Route: The Franschhoek Wine Route includes vineyards such as Bellingham, Boschendal, Franschhoek Vineyards Co-op and La Provence, to name but a few.
Restaurants: The French love of gourmet food is reflected in Franschhoek’s excellent restaurants. Some eight of South Africa’s “Top 100” restaurants are situated in Franschhoek, making the town the gourmet capital of the country.
Fauna And Flora
Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve: The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve was established to preserve the natural vegetation and wildlife of the area and is criss-crossed with hiking trails. Permits can be obtained from the town museum or the local tourism bureau.
Scenic views: Drive around the countryside and feast your eyes upon beauty. The spectacular Franschoek Pass looks out over Franschhoek Valley.
History And Architecture
Boschendal Estate: Boschendal Estate is a beautifully restored house in Cape Dutch style. This estate once belonged to Cecil John Rhodes, one-time Prime Minister of the Cape and founder of Rhodesia.
Huguenot Monument and Museum: The Huguenot Monument and Museum recalls the history of the Protestant refugees. Persecuted by King Louis XIV because of their religious beliefs, the French Huguenots fled to the Cape and many of the refugees were given land by the Dutch government. The impressive Huguenot Memorial, set in beautiful gardens, forms the focal point of this attractive town.