Franschhoek, also known as the gourmet capital of South Africa, is a town to be reckoned with when it comes to wine and food. But as I’ve recently come to notice, it’s physically impossible to spend more than two days constantly indulging in the country’s best food and wine. Everyone needs to take a break at some point. But what do you do when your taste buds are tired? Actually, quite a lot.
Here are 10 quirky things to do in Franschhoek:
1. Have beer and pub fare
Definitely not a common site in the world of gourmet, the Franschhoek Station Pub and Grill remains a local favourite. Its location in a rustic stone train station makes it all the more appealing. And after a weekend of foreign food, you might even enjoy tucking into traditional pub fair while the children have their fun on the jumping castle and monkey bars outside. Weekends bring with it live music and a cheerful atmosphere.
2. Witness orchids grow
The Exotic Plant Company’s orchid nursery can by found at Môreson wine farm on the Happy Valley Road. Here you can see what goes into cultivating the perfect orchid in a series of individually heated green houses.
3. Learn about cars
The Franschhoek Motor Museum will have anyone with even the slightest car interest in aw. Browse through over 100 years of motor history and see cars from the early 1900s to the latest sports cars. It’s located at L’Ormarins and you’ll see 80 dcars isplayed from a collection of about 300 name making cars. Entrance is R60 for adults, R30 for children between 3 and 12 and R50 for senior citizens.
4. Take to the road on two wheels
Hire a bicycle from Manic Cycles for a different perspective of life in Franschhoek. Take a morning to embark on a bike, wine and picnic tour and experience the town and its surrounding farms from behind the handlebars.
5. Go for a hike
The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is part of the Boland Biosphere Reserve and it’s just what you need to either build up an appetite or walk off your lunch. This is Franschhoek’s most beautiful spot for hiking and you’ll find yourself high up on along Franschhoek Pass – the ideal location for many photo stops. Choose between shorter, 2-hour hikes or day hikes. Permits are available through the Tourism Office, Huguenot Museum and Protea Hotel.
6. Get cultured
Probably one of the most prominent features of Franschhoek is the Huguenot Monument. It’s impossible to miss, perched at the end of the Main Road. The statue is dedicated to the influences that the French Huguenots brought the Cape Colony and you can learn all about their ways of life and their reasons for settling in this valley at the Huguenot Memorial Museum. Entrance is R10 for the museum and also for the monument.
7. Relive your childhood
Rickety Bridge is one of the wine farms that stay open for tastings the latest. So after spending a long day touring around, tasting many different wines, you can cool off here. The atmosphere is relaxed and the hosts don’t mind if you lie around on the lawns or even test out the monkey bars. Just remember that kids get preference.
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8. Order takeaways to your doorstep
As you may expect, Franschhoek is not known an eating-in kind of town. On the contrary, it’s where people go to dine out. But after a weekend filled with gourmet meals and lots of walking up and down the main road, the only thing one sometimes wants to do is stay in and have your food delivered to your doorstep. You’ll therefore be glad to know that Col Cacchio is happy to do just that. And with the meager demand for takeaways, the manager herself might even drop your pizzas off at your guesthouse. I’d advise you to stick to pizza as guest houses don’t always come equipped with the type of utilities needed for a saucy pasta.
9. Buy some art
Franschhoek boasts a surprising amount of art galleries considering its size. And they’re conveniently close to one another too. Pop into Café de Arts on the main road for coffee and browse the art against the walls or visit Is Art, The Holden Manz Collection or Franschhoek Art House in the same street. The Vineyard Gallery can be found just off the main road in Reservoir East.
10. Go horse back riding
Paradise Stables offer both wine tasting on horseback and non-wine tasting horseback rides. So if you went on a wine tasting binge the day before, this might just be what you’re looking to do. Take a scenic ride through the beautiful countryside surrounding Franschhoek. The trails last for one hour and cost R200 a person.