Secluded in a Valley of the Cape Winelands lies this small yet significant piece of France. Franschhoek is a picturesque town that seamlessly blends South African culture with the flair and je ne sais quoi of the French.
The French Huguenots
Upon fleeing the shores of France, the Huguenots where welcomed in the Cape by the Dutch East Indian Company. The invitation was mainly based on their superior skills as craftsman and specialised knowledge of viticulture and oenology. Simon van der Stel, who was the Governor at the time of their arrival, set aside land in the Francshhoek Winelands Valley. They where scattered among the Dutch Burghers, to ‘learn the language and morals of the Dutch people’. Many farms in the greater Francshhoek region still have their original French names. The knowledge and craftsmanship of the Huguenots shine through in the agriculture and general socioculture of the picturesque town. From the Artisan route, to the Franschhoek MCC valley, this town is the perfect corner of France.
The Bastille festival
July 14th is a day filled with celebrations of freedom and unity in France. Franschhoek pays homage to the yearly celebration of the Fall of the Bastille that takes place in Paris. Unlike the day long celebration in the home country, Franschhoek has established a weekend to celebrate the victories of the French. Bastille day has been a tradition held in Franschhoek since 1993.
The Wine of the Valley
Looking over the scenic Franschhoek valley, quite difficult to believe that you aren’t standing in a quint Village in the Bordeaux district. From Boutique-to well established wine farms, Franschhoek Valley is a beautiful rendition of the mixture of the style and artisan of the French, while highlighting the beauty of the spirit of South African hospitality and craftmanship.
Wine Farms in the Franschhoek Valley date as far back as the Huguenots settlement in 1685. Most of these farms have experienced uninterrupted growth of their Vineyards, which makes for a rich and vibrant Wine. The rolling hills, fertile grounds, and cool breeze dancing of the Berg River dam has made this Valley the perfect location for Vines to prosper. Especially the flagship Varietal of the Cape Winelands- the Pinotage. Cultivated in Franschhoek’s neighbouring town Stellenbosch, the Pinotage grape is the love child of Cinsault and Pinot noir that was created at the University of Stellenbosch. This varietal is only grown and found within the Winelands of South Africa. Making Pinotage a true Proudly South African creation.
The Cellars of the French Valley
The great influence of the Champagne region of Northern France shines through in the prominence and flavour of the many Method Cap Classique’s of Franschhoek. This region is the leading producer of MCC in South Africa, winning awards not only on national, but international fronts. The Town has dedicated two days to celebrate the amazing MCC’s produced by the greater Francshhoek area. Known as the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival . L’Ormarins is one of the producers of the highest quality MCC Brut. The wine farm is part of the Anthonij Rupert Collection today, but has played a very important part in the history of the Franschhoek Valley.
The Cellar played a unique part of the community. Families would bring grapes from their own family Vineyards and store it in the vats of L’Ormarins. Each family had a large vat which was engraved with the pride of their house- the family Crest. Throughout the year, the wine could be collected by the Families.
Just like L’Ormarins, many of the Wine Farms played an important part of the establishment and character of Franschhoek. The first wine farm that was owned by French Huguenots was La Bri. The name was derived from a mixture of the name of the small village in France, Brie. As well as the French phrase L’ Abri, which means the refugee/haven. This perfectly describes the property as it was a haven for the Huguenots.
Come experience the little corner of France in the middle of the Cape Winelands. Discover Franschhoek on our Exclusive Winelands daytour and experience this quint town with its Artisanal Town. Visit wine farms and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the award winning wine farms of Franschhoek.