The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Franschhoek


Beautiful scenery in the Franschhoek area

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Western Cape

Franschhoek loosely translates to ‘French Glen’ from Dutch, and it got its name after a number of French Huguenots who fled to South Africa to escape religious persecution, during the mid to late 17th century, and settled in the area. The Huguenot Monument was built in 1948 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of their journey, and the town still retains most of its French heritage: in fact the French were the ones who introduced wine making to the area and put Franschhoek on the map.

It’s fair to say that this town is every food-lovers dream and it’s really easy to see why. Franschhoek is home to the country’s finest fruit, dairy and wine farms. Some of South Africa’s chefs even live in the area so you will be treated to some fine dining experiences and no shortages of restaurants to visit!

Each week, the Dutch Reformed Church hosts a morning market in its hall that celebrates local food, music, wine and also allows residents to meet and mingle with one another. In May, the Franschhoek Literary Festival comes to town to recognize books and their writers. The Cook Franschhoek Festival takes place in July and it is the best time for ‘foodies’ to visit Franschhoek. This festival makes the most of its local produce with South Africa’s top chefs sharing their best food tricks and tips. Even the local restaurants get involved with the festival celebrations. Keeping true its French heritage, Franschhoek marks Bastille Day with a special festival celebration in July.

The Huguenot Memorial Museum is a great place to visit and to learn more about the town’s history. The museum is housed in a building that was a replica of Saasveld, a Cape Town home that was designed by French architect Louis Thibault for Baron Pieter van Reede van Oudtshoorn. The building was initially demolished but rebuilt for the museum, some of the original doorframes and tiles have been incorporated into the remodelled building. The museum contains period furniture as well as clothing. There is also a vast collection of documents, bibles and genealogical archives.

Wine farms are plentiful in Franschhoek and it’s not surprising to find that there are tours that take you from farm to farm so you can sample the finest wines that Franschhoek has to offer. One of these tours is done by tram so you don’t need to worry about finding your way around the town, plus it is a unique way to experience everything that Franschhoek has to offer.

To fully bask in Franschhoek’s cultural diversity, visitors should do a walking tour. These tours guide you around the town and show you some of the locals’ favourite spots plus you get to visit many different tea gardens, restaurants as well as some of the artists that live around the area.

Franschhoek CBD

Above - Franschhoek CBD

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Dutch Reformed Church, Franschhoek

Above - Dutch Reformed Church, Franschhoek

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Grande Provence Wine Estate

Above - The Grande Provence Wine Estate

Photo © Johan van Zyl

References and further reading

Things ewe never knewe about South African place names - Author: Ann Gadd - Published: 2015 - Page: 67

The Gardener - 2018/07 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 8

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Published: 1987 - Page: 33

Road Tripping South Africa - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2014 - Page: 47

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 111

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 256

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 49

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 235

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 45

Mooiloop! The Book - Author: SABC 2 - Published: 2016 - Page: 138

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 22

Country Life - Issue 272 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 68

Getaway - Vol 28 No 08 - Author: - Published: 2016 - Page: 20

Country Life - Issue 225 - Author: - Published: 2015 - Page: 20

Country Life - Issue 175 - Author: - Published: 2011 - Page: 58

Country Life - Issue 182 - Author: - Published: 2011 - Page: 56

Book of the Road - 4th edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2019 - Page: 118

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 66


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