La Petite France in South Africa
When thinking about France, I get nostalgic about long camping holidays in Provence, eating fresh baguettes every day, sipping wine whilst watching people on a terrace in Paris and partaking a great meal at the end of the day, preferably with escargot, duck a la orange and more wine to accompany the heavenly food.
similar experience in the Cape Winelands,
If you want to have a similar experience in the Cape Winelands, Franschhoek is the place to be. This romantic little town which is encircled by the Hottentot Holland Mountain Range and is the place to taste the amazing food that South Africa has to offer. Forget your braai and fish and chips, Franschhoek has its own Haute Cuisine and fine wines which came with the French Hugenots to the Cape and have been perfected ever since! Reason enough to explore this lovely town and its beautiful surroundings in the best way possible – by bicycle! We meet our guide William at Franschhoek Cellars, the meeting point of the tour on the outskirts of the town center. In no-time, he has us kitted out and ready to go on an exciting ride through the Winelands. We start easy today, with 3,5 km of flat road to the first winery, Maison Estate. Here, we taste amazing wines, paired with Stilton cheese, chocolate truffles, biltong and caramel fudge.Still savoring the mouthwatering food and delicious wine, we climb on our bikes to ride to the second stop of our trip –Glenwood wine farm. This petite winery is hidden on the Robertsvlei Road, a dirt road without any traffic for some peaceful off road cycling. As we meander through the valley, we have time to absorb the beauty of the amazing mountain ranges and the green vineyards that are contrast with the blue sky and brown sand roads. When arriving at Glenwood, we are welcomed by the farm workers who are preparing the grapevines for the harvest season. Lizelle, our tasting manager has reserved the best table for us, underneath the trees and overlooking the dam and vineyards. It is busy and the small restaurant is so full that even the winemaker steps in to help. He is running from the cellars to tasting center whilst we enjoy the fabulous Chardonnays and Shiraz’. After these full bodied wines and even better views, it is time to ride to our third stop – La Bri, located on the edge of the town. The road, which is still empty – is now getting a bit steep and I can feel the wine in my legs. Luckily, the climb is short and before we even realize it, we already pass the bridge to La Bri and are ushered into the tasting room – which probably has the most magnificent view in the world! Here, we taste three red wines (click here for the taste review) with different types of Biltong (dried cured meat)- beef, droewors and ostrich biltong. A great experience, as the meat complements the red wine beautifully and the ladies working in the tasting room are friendly and knowledgeable about the products. Sad to leave after this amazing tasting, it is time to cycle the last little stretch of the Franschhoek Tour. We stop for a short break at the Hugenot Momument that was built to commemorate the influence of the French culture in South Africa. Even though only 600 Huguenots came to the Cape in the 17th and 18th century, you can still feel and taste the French influence in the wine making, the names of the farms and the architecture. Whilst cycling through the center of town, we pass many award winning restaurants such as The Tasting Room and Reuben’s. After a lunch in the courtyard of Franschhoek Cellars, we are promised one more wine tasting, paired with either cheese or chocolate. As I am from the Netherlands, I choose the wine and cheese pairing and what a treat it is indeed! The six (!) wines I tasted are all from the Franschhoek Cellar range and the cheese is hand-made from Truckle Traditional Cheese. I simply loved the Boerenkaas with the Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc, a creamy gorgonzola with the Old Museum Merlot and the Cumin Boerenkaas with Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Our final tasting was conducted in the newly revamped cellar and you can choose to sit either at the modern bar, the chic cigar lounge or in front of the massive windows overlooking the mountains. With this last pairing, our experience comes to an end! And what a day it was…. Wine, cheese, biltong, chocolate and so much more! Enjoy your active and culinary day in the ‘French Corner’ and book your Franschhoek Experience now!