Although there’s no denying the prettiness of Franschhoek, it’s been so overdone that its sleepy charms have long been lost in history. And it’s expensive, very expensive. Of course it caters primarily to tourists, and lots of them, for whom the place is still a bargain whether they’re paying in pounds, euros or dollars.
Bearing this in mind, we still made the town our base for a few days as meetings in the area made it a sensible choice. Having for the past few weeks been abstemious in our wine and food consumption – a penance for the over indulgence practised in December – a bit of lavish spending could be justified!
We stayed in one of the cottages on La Cotte Farm close to the centre of town but far enough removed to have glorious views and tranquility. The “honeymoon cottage”, a stand-alone with its own splash pool and stoep – the other cottages being in a long, terraced row – is the one to aim for. Slightly more expensive, but worth it for the privacy.
Wandering through town, the best surprise was the recently opened micro-brewery, Tuk Tuk, in the main street. This is no “home-brewer deciding to take it to the next level” but a full on state-of-the-art business operating out of a beautiful building with arched brick ceilings and ornate copper piping. Even the taps in the toilets are fashioned after a beer pull – the attention to detail has been really thought through. Outside there is a lovely garden to enjoy their own and other craft brews and an interesting selection of bar snacks to sop up the beer.
A second charming discovery was a coffee shop – The Hoek Espresso Bar, just off the main road. It’s a small roastery and coffee spot that has managed to keep itself authentic and makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the Franschhoek of old. Serves great coffee too!
We ate, we drank, we lazed and and we practised our favourite pastime of people watching – a lot. Before heading back to our sleepy hometown, we stopped at La Cotte Inn for a bit of a stock up. This fabulous bottle store not only sells the local wines at cellar prices but also has the best cheese counter crammed with imported French cheese. Needless to say we did our bit for the local economy.
And so it went. I expect it will be a while before we’re back that way again, not least to allow time for the wallet to recover, but Franschhoek will always remain a place designed to impress. And that it does.