24 hours in Franschhoek will never be enough, except to affirm that this gorgeous Cape Winelands town, so steeped in history and tradition, has a myriad of activities, attractions, restaurants, wine estates and offerings that deserve much more time. On my recent visit I followed a perfectly designed itinerary that took my interest in sustainable tourism, art, food, people and animals into account. It was set at an ideal relaxed pace with one experience more heartfelt than the next, and I encourage you to try the same route on your next visit.
24 hours in Franschhoek will never be enough, except to affirm that this gorgeous Cape Winelands town deserves much more time.
It was a moody Friday morning when I drove out, the sky heavy with the promise of rain and a temperature that hovered around the 20C mark. Many of the vineyards had been recently pruned, the green shoots adding colour between the neatly moved rows. The soft light making the grass appear greener, the mountains holding up the clouds and the pace on the roads slow and reflective of the work week that was coming to a close.
12h00 – La Motte Wine Estate
My first stop was La Motte Wine Estate, where I met Mareli Roux for a walk about the estate, starting at the Piernief Gallery, before settling into a delicious lunch by Michelle Theron for chats on the estate’s history, transformation, rich family heritage and how their heart lies firmly in sustainable practices, conservation, empowerment and a deep commitment to making a difference. Which they are. My favourite dish? The cauliflower, coconut milk and rose soup with saffron and pistachio, which is unbelievable and went perfectly with my glass of estate MCC.
La Motte was acquired in 1970 by the late Dr. Anton Rupert, an internationally respected industrialist and committed conservationist. Dr. Rupert and his art-devoted wife, Huberte, played an important role in the preservation of South African art. Today La Motte is one of three wine estates owned by the Rupert family. Hanneli’s brother, Johann Rupert, owns L’Ormarins, with Hanneli and Johann in partnership with the De Rothschild family of France, Rupert & Rothschild.
As much as there has always been a dedication to producing top quality wine, here is a distinct commitment towards uplifting and empowering its people, and there are endless such success stories to be told. Environmental management is a high priority at La Motte and they maintain a balance between vineyard management and the protection of the fynbos found on the adjoining Wemmershoek mountains.
The La Motte Museum not only offers insight into the Rupert family, focusing on Dr. Anton and Mrs. Huberte Rupert and the musical career of their daughter Hanneli Rupert, but also features the history of La Motte and its magnificently renovated buildings, with a brief review of Cape Dutch architecture. The permanent collection of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef is currently housed here: A Tribute to the life and art of South Africa’s greatest masters, JH Pierneef. Read more.
Take a look out for the Historic Walk, Sculpture Walk and Pierneef Experience on offer. Take some time over the beautiful buildings and browse in the gift shop. Of course time in the tasting room is a given. On arrival at the estate you are met by a statue of a woman holding a cup that overflows with water, depicting the ‘My Cup Runneth Over‘, the feeling that living in this valley brings. To be honest, I could sense that gratitude too.
14h30 – Franschhoek Motor Museum
Tummy filled with delicate deliciousness, I battled to tear myself away from Mareli’s glorious company, leaving La Motte and making my way to their sister farm, Anthonij Rupert Wyne, for a tram ride from the top wine tasting room and a walk about the Franschhoek Motor Museum with my hostess Gidi.
You don’t have to be a dedicated car person to find the vehicles on display in the four warehouses at the Franschhoek motor Museum breathtaking. Whichever era you are drawn to, most visitors will feel nostalgia as memories of road trips in big old family cars, that dream of owning a Ford Mustang or the VW Beetle your mom used for the school runs are remembered. The sports cars and F1 racers, as well as Maserati and Ferrari displays allow a closer look at these iconic cars and it is interesting to note the simultaneous yet different development styles in the US as opposed to Europe, in the 1930-1940’s. Seek out the Protea, a South African production that sadly never took off, as it’s gorgeous.
Here is a unique opportunity to look back at more than 100 years of motoring history that includes a rotating collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia. You can self-guide through the warehouses, following the chronological order of production, from the first leather seat beauties to some of the fastest cars on the road today …. Be warned though, you’ll come away dreaming of new wheels. I did.
NOTE: That visits to L’Ormarins & Anthonij Rupert, will henceforth be arranged by reservation only.
16h30 – The Farm Sanctuary
This could not have been a better match for me and my heart interests, and even though I’d been told about the sanctuary I can’t say I’d have headed out to see it without this prompt.
Established in 2016 by Joanne Lefson, the Farm Sanctuary SA was officially opened on World Farm Animal Day 2 October 2016 and is a registered sanctuary for rescued farm animals with the aim of informing and encouraging positive change in the way society views and treats farm animals. There is as you will know, an abundance of information available online that explores the tragedy that is industrialised animal farming and its merciless effect on the environment, our health and the welfare of farm animals.
Here you can meet some of the animals rescued from certain death who serve as advocates in the stand against modern factory farming practices. The sanctuary also teaches alternate sustainable practices and the need for a consciousness when choosing what we eat.
I fell head over heels in love with a rescue bull called Baloo, who as a baby was taken from the dairy industry where bulls have no use and are readily discarded. To cuddle with him and have my fair share of cow licks, was to affirm that like a dog or a cat, which so many of us have a bond with, all animals have feelings and emotion, intuition and perception. And can feel the suffering too often inflicted on them. The donkeys, sheep, pigs and goats as well as famed painting pig Pigcasso, have all been saved from the mass meat and dairy market.
People often ask me why I’m vegetarian? This is why. Because I love animals and simply couldn’t eat them. What a glorious place run by special people. Please visit and see how you can support, and also have a think about the food that you eat, perhaps cut down on meat consumption and at least honour the animal that has given it’s life for you to eat, if you can’t.
The Farm Sanctuary is, compassion for farm animals.
Read Meet Pigcasso – the painting pig who was saved from slaughter, pic of him with their courtesy.
18h00 – Mont Rochelle Hotel
As I drive up and park a porter approaches my car, takes the key and directs me towards the front door, where I am met and warmly welcomed by James Basson, the Estate Manager that I know from his Bushman’s Kloof days. The team are all smiles and genuine warmth and it feels like being welcomed to a friend’s home. I look up to catch the softening light across the valley and put my bag down to free a hand for the bubbly being handed to me. In that moment I am very aware of the privilege of spending a night at Sir Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Hotel. A place that seems to have effortlessly mastered the balance between homeliness and splendour, where art, decor and nature come together to offer great style and comfort, with a fair amount of fun.
Escorted to my room and guided through the amenities – of which there are many – I swing back the balcony doors to take in the silhouetted views towards the mountain as night falls. It is beautiful.
Mont Rochelle is a 26-bedroom hotel with a gym, hot tub and outdoor swimming pool. There are 2 restaurants here and you can either dine al fresco at the informal Country Kitchen or enjoy gourmet meals at Miko, the main restaurant. The bar serves a variety light bites throughout the day and the terrace and pool are lined with sun loungers from which to enjoy the views across the valley. Adding to the relaxed atmosphere, there is a spa and Hammam to make use of, something I’m sorry not to have had time for.
When I head down to wait for my transfer to dinner at Foliage in town, the bar and lounge are filled with the excited chatter of guests, many from the USA, UK and Spanish, all glowing at the delight of the experience and setting, leaving me proud to be sharing one of the best-rated properties in Franschhoek.
20h00 – Foliage
I transfer to dinner down the road, joining Franschhoek’s much loved Linda Coltart at Foliage. This is where Chef Chris Erasmus and his team have established a space that serves fresh beautiful food that is influenced by the rewards of their daily foraging in the hills around Franschhoek. Flavours of sorrel and basil, wild mushrooms and herbs, nettle pesto and pine rings are all used in the ever changing menu. With natural methods of slow smoking, charring and glazing the use of free-range and pasture-fed meats the preferred way. The restaurant is a haven for vegans and vegetarian and we feasted on numerous delicately prepared dishes, the open kitchen offering a glimpse into where the magic happens. Sleep was sweet that night.
10h00 – Haut Espoir
After breakfast I headed towards the top of the road and the Franschhoek Monument, turning right and heading out of town and into the mountains where I met Rob Armstrong and his mom Anne, for a walk on their beloved Haut Espoir. A boutique wine estate that has been developed and run by the Armstrong Family since 1999, here they produce handcrafted wines in harmony with nature, leading by example and driven by a passion and commitment to doing the right thing by nature and the environment. Its an inspiring place.
The farm is 23 hectares of which 8 hectares are planted with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc. The remainder of the land is dedicated to fynbos restoration, a riverine ecosystem, olive groves and vegetable and herb garden, with Rob driven to the protection of the adjoining Cape Biosphere and Franschhoek Mountain.
At Haut Espoir, Rob tells me, they have been transitioning to biodynamic agriculture since 2011 with a focus on having a minimal impact to the environment, using no fungicides, insecticides or commercially bought fertilisers. Water conservation is part of their daily living with the winery effluent sent through a bio-reactor and wetland system. There are a couple of cows in the field to help with weed control, chickens proudly show off their young and the veggie garden is protected from the baboons that frequently visit the property, with recycled coffee pods a shimmering deterrent to keep the birds from nibbling at the fruit.
After a peaceful walk and honest chat with Rob and Anne about the cost of doing things right, and the importance of following your passion, I am shown the labyrinth and take myself to it’s centre. Being here leaves me longing to do very much more for the world, and grateful that people like Rob already are. We finish the walk with a tasting in their recently renovated tasting room, and I get stuck on the Cloudfall Shiraz Rose 2016, and don’t move from there.
NOTE: Keep an eye out, they’re adding a cottage to rent on the property that will make a perfect retreat.
The literal translation of Haut Espoir is ‘High Hope’ and that is what I was left with after my time here.
12h00 – Franschhoek Village Market
Even though my routing had officially come to an end, Rob had mentioned the Saturday Village Market and I stopped there to buy something to eat and have a walk about. The Plastic Porject stall is one that struck my interest, an eco-loving project for women in the community that are weaving recycled plastic bags into baskets, bowls and accessories. I couldn’t resist getting a big bright green basket for my office as a feel good momento.
Coffee was on offer with locals Terbodore, food stalls offered everything from high energy juices to ice-cream and German bratwurst. Crafts, clothing, fresh plants, fruit and veg, jewellery and ceramics were onsale, and all the while visitors sat under the trees enjoying the day and listening to excellent live music. Include a visit here if you’re in town over a weekend, found next to the main Church on Huguenot Road every Saturday from 10-3pm.
My takeaway from the visit
- Heritage and art are best combined with family. What a privilege to spend some time with Piernief’s work at La Motte and then enjoy lunch at his namesake restaurant.
- Cars have a history that needs to be celebrated, also I’d love a powder blue 1970’s Ford Mustang or better still, a 1921 Marlow motorbike.
- Chefs are artists and their culinary creations are a highlight of any visit to Franschhoek. La Motte’s Piernief and Foliage of the finest restaurants in the country.
- I’m increasingly a fan of luxury and the opportunity to stay and experience the beauty and service of Mont Rochelle, was an unbelievable treat and I’m so grateful.
- Cows make amazing cuddle buddies and animals do make the (my) world go round. Having a farm sanctuary within the village to educate and share with visitors speaks of the area’s heart.
- Communities matter, and every Saturday the village market next to the Church is where people meet, with wonderful offerings, food, craft, art, clothes, gifts and antiques.
- Coffee pods can be recycled to look like lovelocks that keep birds away from veggie gardens and labyrinths are a good place to walk the journey to our own centre and back out into the world again. The spirit grows wherever you open your heart and eyes.
- A commitment to sustainable farming takes courage and commitment to the environment, which is exactly what Haut Espoir is all about.
- It’s the people that make any travel experience. And I am so very lucky to have been able to share mine with some of the finest.
- Franschhoek is home to a wide range art galleries, ranging from fine art to sculptures, and whatever your preference, walk the rooms and appreciate the talent.
- The Cape Winelands really are the best and with these pics and words my encouragement to go out for 24 hours, or very much more. It’s true how passion enhances flavours, food and wine, and when you add the setting of these magical mountains and valley to the mix, you’ll think you’ve found heaven.
- Thank you to Franschhoek Wine Valley, Pippa Pringle and all that I met along the way for the vivid and beautiful reminders that I should spend much more time in your valley x.
It’s true how passion enhances flavours, food and wine, and when you add the setting of these magical mountains and valley to the mix, you’ll think you’ve found heaven.
10 Reasons to visit Franschhoek
- Taken off the Franschhoek Wine Valley website, these are some reasons to add to mine.
- Franschhoek is the food and wine capital of the country.
- There are more award-winning restaurants concentrated here than anywhere else in the land.
- Franschhoek’s French heritage of more than 300 years is evident in the wine and food tradition. The magnificent Huguenot Museum and monument are worth a visit.
- There are 101 interesting things to do in this picturesque village.
- You can taste the wines of the valley more than 40 extraordinary wine cellars.
- Franschhoek is a town for all budgets.
- It is centrally located to enjoy the wonderful pleasures of the Western Cape – from the Winelands to whale-watching to exploring the mother city.
- The culturally diverse people are friendly and welcoming.
- The galleries and shops in the quaint main street provide hours of interesting browsing and shopping.
- Mountain hiking trails, cycle routes and horse riding.
The Franschhoek Valley lies about 75 kms inland from Cape Town and can be approached from Stellenbosch and the Helshoogte Pass, or from Paarl along the R45. It is encompassed by the Franschhoek Mountains, with the Franschhoek Pass north of the village taking you through the most scenic Middagskransberg towards the Wemmershoek Mountains. The Franschhoek Mountains were originally known as Oliphants Hoek as centuries ago elephants crossed the mountains at the change of season to have their young in this protected valley, treading a defined path that was later used by settlers on horseback and would become the road we use today. Hard to imagine these days.
The Essential Details
- Learn more about the offerings in the Franschhoek Wine Valley at https://franschhoek.org.za
- The Franschhoek Wine Valley offices are at 62 Huguenot Road and they are open Monday to Friday 8-5, Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 9-4.
- Tel: +27 21 876 2861 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Spelling matters and it’s important to honour the double H in FranscHHoek.
- For more inspiration to visit, find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and follow the #FranschhoekMoments hashtag.
- My stay was by invitation of the Franschhoek Wine Valley and arranged by Pippa Pringle of On The Marque PR & Communications. For media queries contact her at email@example.com Cell: 071 461 6692 and Tel: 021 851 5193.
With extra special thanks for the generous gifts that I received. A set of Arômes de La Motte, a delicious range of body products made from the ethereal oils harvested on the estate. Also an extraordinary collection of Rob Armstrong and Haute Espoir’s wines and home produce. The organic marmalade is the best. At the Farm Sanctuary SA I bought two of their gorgeous t-shirts, with money going directly to the animals, and was given a greeting card made from cow dung (amazing!) and a collection of poignant and innovative post cards that I’ve put up in my office. If you’d like one, you can buy one here.