It is a wet and cool afternoon. Old oak trees lay water droplets on the ground outdoors. But we are cozy and warm at Franschhoek La Motte wine estate, and tasting of a selection of award-winning wines from the estate, under the tutelage of Maritha duToit, ambassador of the La Motte brand. We don’t know much about wines, but Maritha, affectionately known as Zita, is happy to share some of her knowledge with us. An open fire warms the room and a few other groups of people are scattered around the room to do their own tastings. The walls are adorned with original artwork by renowned South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, after whom the Pierneef collection of premium La Motte wines is named. Through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, we can see into the maturation cellar, where wooden wine barrels await their turn to be tasted. With its picturesque setting and historic charm, La Motte is the perfect destination for those who appreciate the finer things in life, and when you’ve finished your wine tasting there’s a restaurant as well as a museum and art gallery. ‘art, where a selection of permanent and temporary exhibitions are housed.
Franschhoek, from the Afrikaans word meaning “French corner”, is one of the oldest colonies in South Africa, founded in 1688 by Huguenots who, fleeing religious persecution, settled in Cape Town. They planted vines and introduced wine, and many Franschhoek wine farms are named after French wine regions, or still bear their original French names, such as La Provence, La Terra de Luc and La Motte. Located at the foot of the Mont Rochelle nature reserve and surrounded by vineyards and rugged mountains, Franschhoek is in one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the world. Less than an hour from Cape Town, it’s the perfect escape from the city, and it’s justly famous for its superb local cuisine and exceptional wine. The Fertile Valley is one of the Cape Winelands’ most popular wine regions and boasts an exceptional variety of wine estates that produce some of South Africa’s finest wines.
The choices for wine tasting in Franschhoek are endless. Leaving from La Motte, the domains of Anthonij Rupert, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière and Le Lude are still on our list. On the recommendation of a friend, we visit Vrede in lust for a wine tasting with tapas pairing, and taste pieces of seared tuna, accompanied by their Kogelberg Chenin Blanc, and fried goat cheese with their Cabernet Franc. It’s a rainy day mid week and we had the place almost to ourselves.
The pretty village of Franschhoek consists of one main road, where you can browse a wonderful collection of galleries and antique shops, bistros, restaurants, cafes and artisan food markets. Also famous for its fine cuisine, Franschhoek takes its title as the “culinary capital of South Africa” seriously. The restaurants take advantage of local products and you will eat very well there. The area is home to acclaimed gourmet restaurants, and with a conservative estimate of at least 36 restaurants and four 5-star or better South African chefs, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to food.
One of our favorite meals was at Restaurant Orangery on Le Lude Estate, where tucked away just around the corner from the cellar you will find the Orangerie restaurant. We started with some of the estate’s award-winning wines, Le Lude Brut and Le Lude Rosé MCC, while deciding what to order from the delicious options on the menu. Chef Nicolene Barrow has created a menu of classic French cuisine with contemporary and Asian touches. Duck liver parfait with apple chutney and pork belly ravioli with black truffle jus and whipped goat cheese for starters, before moving on to West Coast mussels steamed in Lude Brut and filet of beef with ossobuco ravioli and red wine juice – perfect.
Franschhoek is certainly not unfamiliar, and it gets busy in the summer, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming, especially if you stay just outside the village among the quiet vineyards. With options ranging from luxury boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts or self-contained cottages, Franschhoek offers a variety of places to stay. You can choose a location within walking distance of the main street, or perhaps opt to stay at a winery, for the ultimate wine experience. We chose the majestic The residence followed by the chic farmhouse of the elegantly renovated house 7 prints.
Located in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, on a private estate of 12 hectares, La Residence. Is probably the best hotel in Franschhoek. Surrounded by Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vineyards, olive groves, plum orchards, vegetable gardens and fragrant flower beds, with a dramatic mountain backdrop, La Residence is the benchmark for luxury accommodation in the vineyards of the Cap. The hotel was voted “World’s Best Award Winner” by Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2017.
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Upon entering the hotel, huge shimmering Indian chandeliers hang from the vaulted ceilings. Original artwork and elegant antiques hang throughout the hotel, and huge mirrors adorn the walls. The furnishings are opulent and elegant. Peacocks, with their rich iridescent blue feathers, roam the grounds and can occasionally be found occupying the wooden chairs on your private veranda. Flowers are a recurring feature throughout the hotel, from the beautiful tables laden with stunning arrangements as you enter the hotel, and the beautiful bouquets that guests are handed upon arrival, to the flowers embroidered on the napkins. and the vases full of flowers in every room. . I was told there were 300 flower arrangements in the hotel at one time, and I believe it! Fortunately, there is a full-time florist on staff!
Beautifully decorated rooms, elegant antiques, excellent food and fine wines in a beautiful setting, I’ve heard that La Residence is nicknamed the ‘Versailles of Franschhoek’ and no one would disagree! The hotel has 11 suites, plus 5 private suites in the middle of the vineyards. Each suite has its own color palette and design inspiration, ranging from the exotic Tibetan Suite with its oriental antiques, to the blue and yellow Chambre Bleue, with its Provençal antiques, velvets and silks. The hotel featured in the BBC series “Incredible Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby”.
After leaving La Residence, any place we stayed was going to have a hard act to follow. We chose the eclectic and picturesque setting of 7 copies , a farmhouse retreat with a difference. Beautifully furnished, with trinkets and treasures from around the world, this renovated farmhouse, and its imaginative and inspired decor, is a testament to the creativity of its owners James and Marc, who have breathed new life into the property and created a truly special place. . square.
An exclusive guesthouse, set in 50 acres of pristine fynbos on a working farm, 7 Koppies gives you the feeling of being completely immersed in beautiful natural surroundings. You feel removed and remote, but in reality you are only a short drive from everything. We hiked the steep, rocky koppies (hills) of the property, the wildflowers were beautiful, the birds colorful, and the view stretched for miles. In the evening, we sat by the outdoor fireplace, with a glass of wine, and watched the sun set over the entire Franschhoek Valley.
Breakfast on the terrace was a highlight. The sky reflected off the calm water of the pool, the mist hid the hills and the horizon, and there was a cool breeze in the air. With five individually designed luxury bedrooms of varying shapes and sizes, plus a private cottage just a 5 minute walk away, this is a fabulous farmhouse retreat, in the heart of the South African Cape Winelands. A beautiful place indeed.
Nestled between scenic vineyards and towering mountains, Franschhoek has an elegant charm. Age-old vineyards, Cape Dutch architecture, spectacular places to stay and wonderful places to eat. With art galleries and shopping, history and hiking, museums and mountain biking trails, and some of the world’s best-selling wines, you definitely shouldn’t visit Cape Town without spending some time in Franschhoek.