France is not a nation you readily associate with South Africa’s history, yet wine production in South Africa only really began in earnest thanks to the viticultural skills and knowledge of French Huguenots who arrived in the Cape in the 1680s.
Although vines had been planted as early as the 1650s by Dutch settlers, the activities of Cape Town wine farms only took off with the arrival of Huguenots fleeing persecution in France. They began planting vines and orchards in the area known as Oliphantshoek (Elephants’ Corner), named after the huge herds of elephants that roamed the area. Franschhoek (French Corner), as the settlement was renamed, still has strong French influence even today. The picturesque village’s architectural style and the names of many of its vineyards and vineyards bear testimony to its heritage. Each Franschhoek wine farm has its own fascinating history and story to tell, and the Huguenot Museum and monument give you some insight into the valley’s past. Its French heritage is still evident in its food and wine tradition and if you happen to visit during the weekend closest to 14th July, Bastille Day, you can enjoy the village’s gourmet weekend, celebrating its French heritage.
Franschhoek French heritage is still evident in its food and wine tradition and if you happen to visit during the weekend closest to 14th July, Bastille Day, you can enjoy the village’s gourmet weekend, celebrating its French heritage.
This broad, vineyard-lined valley is found in the south-eastern corner of Paarl, which incidentally is named after the Paarl Mountain, taking its name from the Dutch world for pearl thanks to the way it glistens after rain. Spectacularly situated, nestled between towering mountains, often snow-capped in winter, with streams flowing to the valley floor, converging into the Berg river, this extraordinary valley boasts more than 40 wine farms. Cape Town residents and visitors flock here to wander its quaint main street lined with shops and restaurants. You’ll find yourself spending hours here shopping or just simply browsing its eclectic range of craft shops and speciality cheese and chocolate shops.
Franschhoek is regarded as the culinary capital of the Cape and a Member of the Délice Network of Good Food Cities of the World, so you’ll find plenty of delicious opportunities to pair outstanding local food with the valley’s world-class wines. In fact, there are more award-winning restaurants concentrated here than anywhere in the country and in any year, as many as eight of South Africa’s Top 100 restaurants are selected from those in the village. Top chefs create wonderful meals from the freshest local produce, accompanied by local wines.
Cape Town is only 45 minutes away from this idyllic valley, so Franschhoek lends itself to both day trips and longer breaks. Explore spectacular Dutch homesteads, towering oaks and lush vineyards. Taste your way through the valley’s wines at a variety of cellars. Franschhoek boasts both small boutique wineries for those in search of something a little more unique whereas large cellars offer organised tours and conducted tasting. Whatever your preferred style of cellar, our local experts at wine tours will seek out the perfect Cape Town wine farms for you.
Although boasting a warm climate, Franschhoek is shaded by the mountains, which also help to trap the cool southerly winds, making the region ideal for the production of the top Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines it’s famous for. The valley is also renowned for its Cap Classique sparkling wine, the perfect finish to a day in French Corner.
South African wine farms are your oyster, so let our local experts at Wine Paths help you prise it open and discover Franschhoek’s pearls.
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