My sister and I spent our last three days in South Africa in the little town of Franschhoek. After dropping off our bikes at Karoo Biking in Cape Town, we rented a car and drove about an hour out of town, into the wine country, to the small town of Franschhoek. I chose Franschhoek as our base to expore the Cape Winelands due to its reputation as the gourmet capital of South Africa.
Although the last elephant to be seen in Franschhoek was in 1850, it used to be called Oliphantshoek (Elephant’s Corner), for the large herds of elephants that roamed the valley. We saw a nod to the elephants in a fountain downtown, and the B&B where we stayed, The Elephant Lodge. When the Dutch government gave the land to French Huguenots who fled their homeland after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France in 1685, (outlawing Protestantism), the valley was renamed Franschhoek (French Corner).
We enjoyed wonderful food at every place we ate. I don’t think you can get a bad meal in Franschhoek. Of course a large draw to the area are the vineyards.
Our very last day in South Africa we spent walking downtown Franschhoek, seeing the Huguenot Monument, shopping, and wine tasting.
Along the main street in downtown Franschhoek we passed the boutique hotel The Quartier Francais, a Relais and Chateaux property that is also home to The Tasting Room. http://www.lqf.co.za/
One shop at the end of the main street in downtown sold animal skins and horns among other souvenirs. Not in the market myself, I was curious about the procedures for buying animal skins. The owner was more than happy to show me the certificates and explain the export process. A top quality zebra skin with the appropriate certificates (legally culled from a managed herd) costs about R 16,000 ($2300.)
On the front porch of the store was an example of a zebra hide ready for shipping.
I fell in love with this lion painting at Oryx Place, but didn’t want to try to get it back to the US.
We visited the Grande Provence winery and tasted some fabulous wines, which are not exported to the US. I bought two bottles to carry back with me to the states. The tasting sheet says this about the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc:
This medium bodied wine has tropical fruit, green apple, pear and fig followed by touches of green pepper. These aromas follow through to the palate which is refreshing and zesty.
We loved it. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that I brought back to the US was enthusiastically tasted by friends who all agreed it was fantastic.
It was a relaxed and enjoyable last day. Franschhoek is a beautiful little town with wonderful food and wine, and friendly people. I highly recommend a visit to this slice of heaven on earth.