Franschhoek is one of South Africa’s oldest towns. The valley was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (‘Elephants Corner’), so named because of the vast herds of elephants that once roamed the area. The name then changed to le Coin Français (‘the French Corner’), and later to Franschhoek (Afrikaans for ‘French Corner’), with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. The town’s heritage is shown today by the Huguenot Monument which stands at the end of the town. The nearby museum chronicles the history of the first settlers, with each of the original Huguenot farms having its own fascinating story to tell.
Franschhoek has, since the 1990s, become a premier South African tourism destination. The town and its surroundings host more than 40 wine estates, many of which have won national and international awards for their wine, and provide unique tasting experiences. The town is also home to some of South Africa’s finest restaurants including Le Quartier Français and Reubens.
Franschhoek’s stunning mountain setting also provides the opportunity to participate in a variety or active pursuits, including mountain biking, trekking and horse riding, all of which can be integrated with wine tasting.
The town, with its characteristic Cape Dutch architecture, has a wide range of souvenir, art, jewellery, fashion, antique, interior design and grocery stores, making it a wonderful town for strolling and window shopping.