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Franschhoek Introduction

Any self-respecting foodie must visit Franschhoek at least once when travelling around South Africa. Franschhoek, which is Afrikaans for "French corner", is the country's food and wine capital. This town in the heart of the Cape Winelands owes its reputation to the legacy it inherited from the French Huguenots. These French colonists first settled in the area in the 1680s. Moreover, Franschhoek has an active art scene. It's also surrounded by a number of nature reserves and hiking trails.

Hotels in Franschhoek

The accommodation selection in Franschhoek is mostly on the upscale side. It's made up of guesthouses, country homes and holiday villas. Many of them are in old mansions featuring Cape Dutch architecture but with a touch of French flair. The style gives these properties a charming and gracious old-world appeal. Old world doesn't necessarily mean outdated, however, and most of these properties offer a range of modern facilities. These amenities include full-service spas, swimming pools and sports facilities; some even offer access to the golf courses in the area. And since Franschhoek is wine country, you can expect most lodging picks to offer wine tastings and access to wine cellars.

Where to stay

Many of the hotels in Franschhoek are located along Huguenot Road, which serves as the town's main road. This road is lined with restaurants, galleries and shops. Near its northwestern end, Huguenot Road branches off and becomes Main Road. Here you'll find secluded country houses run by wine estates in the area. These country houses are ideal if you're looking to enjoy some quiet time during your visit. Running parallel to Huguenot Road in downtown Franschhoek is Cabriere Street. This road houses a modern, upscale neighbourhood. The holiday homes here have wonderful views of the vineyards.

Things to see

At the southeastern end of Huguenot Road stands the Huguenot Memorial Museum. The museum houses artefacts belonging to the French Huguenots who escaped persecution in France and built the community that was to become Franschhoek. These artefacts tell the story of their struggle and how they survived in this corner of the world. Just outside the museum is the Huguenot Memorial Monument, which features a statue of a female figure holding a bible and a broken chain. This statue is said to signify nobility and the freedom to practise one's chosen religion. The monument honours the sacrifices the Huguenots made to gain that freedom. If you're a car enthusiast, you might want to visit the Franschhoek Motor Museum. This museum has a variety of drool-worthy cars on display, from Henry Ford's classic model T vehicle to a 2003 Ferrari. Other classic cars are represented here, including Aston Martins, Jaguars and Porsches.

How to get to Franschhoek

You can get to Franschhoek by driving along the R45 highway if you're coming from Stellenbosch or Paarl. Stellenbosch is around 38 kilometres from Franschhoek and the drive can take 45 minutes. Paarl, on the other hand, is only 35 kilometres or a 35-minute drive away. If you're flying to Cape Town, you can hire a taxi to take you directly from Cape Town International Airport to Franschhoek. Another option is to rent a car and drive the 82 kilometres between Cape Town and Franschhoek; the journey will take you about an hour and a half to complete.