Franschhoek is one of the best towns in South Africa to enjoy fine wine and haute cuisine; it’s one of the country’s top wine-producing regions and many of South Africa’s most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants are in Franschhoek. But Franschhoek can also be quirky and casual.
If you’d like to spend a day in Franschhoek that’s fun, off-the-beaten-path, and won’t cost the world, here are a few suggestions.
Terbodore Coffee Roasters, founded in the midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal, has a second location in Franschhoek and is the perfect place to start the day. Grab a cappuccino, made with beans roasted on-site, order breakfast, and enjoy the morning sun outside. If you’re really interested in coffee, ask for a tour of the roastery. Jommo, Terbodore’s head roaster, is more than happy to explain the process from beginning to end.
Terbodore Coffee is at 191 Main Road, Franschhoek. Call 021-876-4716.
Haut Espoir Boutique Wine Estate
Haut Espoir is a small, family-run vineyard with a beautiful view of the mountains — perfect for a mid-morning wine tasting. Haut Espoir’s managing director Rob Armstrong is a former archeologist and champion of biodynamic farming, which means the farm is designed to have as minimal an impact as possible on the surrounding environment. The vineyard uses no fungicides, pesticides, or commercial fertilisers and a large portion of the Haut Espoir land is uncultivated and preserved for fynbos restoration.
Haut Espoir is at 3 Excelsior Road, Franschhoek.
Black Elephant Vintners
Black Elephant is a vintner, not a vineyard, which means it buys its grapes from wine farms around Franschhoek and makes interesting wine out of it. But wine farm or not, Black Elephant is the quirkiest wine-tasting spot in Franschhoek. Owner and host Kevin Swart — Kevin and his co-owners call themselves “the rebels of the vine” — is rarely seen, even during tastings, without Kulula the parrot on his shoulder. Black Elephant’s wine is fantastic. Call in advance to schedule a “music and wine pairing”.
Black Elephant is at 40A Uitkyk Street, Franschhoek. Call 021-876-2903.
The Franschhoek Pass, one of only two routes into or out of town, sits at the edge of the Franschhoek Mountains just before the road plunges into the Franschhoek Valley. If you’re not tired of drinking yet, head up the pass at dusk with a bottle of wine (and a designated driver) to watch the sun drop down behind the beautiful mountains.
Franschhoek Pass is on the R45 (Lambrechts Road), southeast of Franschhoek on the way to Villiersdorp.
Cafe des Arts
For a casual dinner in town check out Cafe des Arts, where you can eat delicious, carefully crafted food without paying lots of money. Cafe des Arts is child-friendly (there is a jungle gym outside) and serves, among other things, fresh tuna that tastes as if it came straight from the sea.
Cafe des Arts is at 7 Reservoir Street, Franschhoek. Call 021-876-2952.