A small cultural hub some 75 kilometres east of Cape Town, the town of Franschhoek is often cited as the food and wine capital of South Africa. Hidden amongst the mountains and vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the town boasts beautiful scenery to go with its historical and cultural value.
The fact that there are more award-winning restaurants concentrated in the area than anywhere else in South Africa lends credence to Franschhoek's claim as the prime gourmet destination in the country. The surrounding vineyards and wine cellars add a similarly impressive dose of sophistication and legitimacy.
Many of Franschhoek's attractions and traditions reflect the French history giving it its name; Franschhoek can be translated literally to English as 'French corner'. Especially interesting in this regard is the Hugenot monument towering proudly in a small park at the top of the village, standing as a reminder of the settlers who founded the town.
Although South Africa enjoys its best weather during its hot, dry summer months between November and March, an alternative time to visit would be during Bastille Day - the 14th of July. This annual festival sees the town celebrate its French heritage with a wine and gourmet fair.
Franschhoek's cultural significance is well represented by its museums and attractions. Take a trip back in time at the Memorial Museum and learn about the French settlers' way of life, or explore a little more recent history at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. For active holiday-goers, the stunning rural surroundings contain plenty of opportunity for hiking, cycling, and even trout fishing.
A trip to the town wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of its many surrounding wine cellars, most of which offer tasting sessions and tours. Franschhoek's restaurants are held in just as high regard - and rightly so. Drop into Café BonBon for a beautiful lunch under the trees of the valley, or seek out Ryan's Kitchen for a true gourmet experience.
The warm, intimate atmosphere of Franschhoek is also displayed by its nightlife, the town boasting a number of comfortable pubs and bars in which to while away the evenings. The Elephant & Barrel presents itself in a traditional English style, while also offering traditional South African food and a selection of classy cocktails.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance and vaccinations and / or special medication for your destination. Please consult your GP for advice at least one month ahead of travel. It is essential that you meet the visa and passport requirements for your chosen destination. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (http://www.fco.gov.uk) website for up to date entry requirements listed by country.