Franschhoek  (Dutch for 'French Corner') is a city in the Cape Winelands of South Africa.
Franschhoek was founded by French settlers (hence the name), who fled the inquisition in Europe and were looking for a little hide-out on the other side of the world. They found it in the fertile valley of Franschhoek - initially known as Oliphantshoek, as they valley was known for its large numbers of elephants.
Even though most people don't speak French, many of the street names, restaurant names and wine farms in the 'French Quarter' have French names.
Franschhoek makes a serious attempt at being the food and wine capital of South Africa and there are many fine restaurants. It's a great place to relax, enjoy top food and wine, in a spectacular atmosphere.
Only one road (R45) leads to Franschhoek from Stellenbosch or Paarl. For a more scenic drive, you can enter Franschhoek all the way over the "Franschhoek Pass" - a spectacular mountain route leading into Franschhoek from Villiersdorp.
There is a taxi service (small buses with loud music and often loud drivers) from Stellenbosch and from Paarl.
There's no train service.
You can walk along the main street to have a look at the shops and various restaurants and a stroll through the streets off the main street will show you some nice old houses.
Franschhoek is a place to relax. Stroll up or down the main street and take your time to have a look around. The mountains surrounding Franschhoek are spectacular and there are many places you can reach within easy driving distances.
- Rent a bike to go up and down the hills along the wine farms.
- Go fishing to some of the lakes nearby
- Visit the Huguenot Monument
- Take your golf clubs - Pearl Valley and Paarl golf clubs are within 15 minutes drive; Stellenbosch and De Zalze within 30 minutes. All are top quality lay-outs and prices are exceptionally cheap by European standards.
- Go wine tasting in some of the many excellent wineries
There are many excellent restaurants in and around Franschhoek. Along the main road are a number of very good restaurants.
- Bouillabaisse, . M,W-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-5PM. One of the latest additions, run by award-winning chef Camil Haas. This vibrant, trendy 'front-cooking' eatery serves freshly prepared favorites like bouillabaisse and gourmet seafood tasters. French champagne available. The open kitchen lets you watch the chef and his team at work, and be sample tasting portions. Bouillabaisse also sells fresh fish, caters, and has a deli shop.
- The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, (in the heart of the village). Recently voted the best restaurant in Africa and the Middle East by Restaurant magazine.
- Reuben's. More upmarket than Bouillabaise.
- Haute Cabriere, (on the road up to the Franschhoek Pass).
- La Petite Ferme, (on the road up to the Franschhoek Pass), ☎ +27 (21) 876 3016/8 ([email protected], fax: +27 (21) 876 3624), . lunch only, bookings essential, excellent view over the valley.
- The Bistro, 14 Huguenot St Franschhoek (Top of Huguenot Road Near Monument), ☎ 0218764714, . The Bistro Franschhoek is now under the new ownership of Tasha Thomas. This restaurant has a "Paris Bistro" feel, aiming to please those who enjoy freshly cooked food from an imaginative menu. Customers are able to enjoy their dining experience, either inside this tastefully furnished intimate venue, or "Al Fresco" on the spacious patio. Tasha is passionate about cooking. With this in mind, she is totally 'hands on', making sure that food served to your table is of the highest standard. The Bistro is open daily for Breakfast, Lunch and from September 1st 2008, will be opening every evening for Dinner. Situated at 14 Huguenot Road, close to the Huguenot Monument, makes The Bistro an ideal place to enjoy excellent food whilst in Franschhoek. R80.
Wine is plentiful and cheap.
Haute Cabriere and La Petite Ferme (see above) sell their own wines. Just outside of the village are two top wine estates, Le Grand Provence and Boschendal, where tastings are available daily. There are also many other smaller wine estates in the area. Virtually all welcome visitors and tastings can be arranged with most. Enjoy.
- Residence Klein Oliphantshoek, (close to the center of town), . Quiet
- Le Quartier Francais, 16 Huguenot Road, ☎ +27 (0)21 876-2151, .
- Le Ballon Rouge, (close to the center of town), .