Franschhoek is a small town in the Western Cape Province and one of the oldest towns of the Republic of South Africa. The valley was originally settled in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (“Elephants’ corner”), so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area.
The name of the area soon changed to Franschhoek, with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, La Cotte, CabriÃ¨re, Provence, Chamonix, Dieu DonnÃ© and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms â€” most of which still retain their original farm houses today. These farms have grown into renowned wineries.
Once a sleepy country retreat, the village began experiencing a boom since the 1990s, and property prices have sharply increased. The ideal summer weather, snowy peaks in winter and proximity to Cape Town have turned Franschhoek into one of South Africa’s most sought after residential addresses. The construction of the new English-medium private Bridge House School outside the village has also attracted many urban dwellers to the village.
Franschhoek is notable for having some of the top restaurants in the country within its quiet borders. This fact, together with the strong wine culture, and pristine natural and architectural beauty has made Franschhoek into what many describe as the “food and wine capital” of South Africa.
The attributes of the village have turned Franschhoek into a popular tourist destination, with dozens of bed & breakfasts and small cottages available for accommodation at premium prices.