Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. Its name – Afrikaans for "French Corner" – harks back to the 17th century when the land was originally settled by Huguenot refugees. Thanks to the Huguenots, by the 1700s the valley slopes here were covered with vines, most of which still have their French names today. Over the following centuries, age-old wine making techniques, as well as ideal local growing conditions, created what is now one of the most exciting wine making regions in the world.
Despite its burgeoning wine industry, the area was a sleepy country retreat until 1904 when the Franschhoek branch line brought locomotive power to this part of the Western Cape. Today, you can follow the path of the original branch line on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which travels along a picturesque route between wine estates.
In the years after 1904, the natural beauty, exceptional weather and ease of travel to Cape Town gradually formed Franschhoek into the sought after address it is now. As the reputation of the vineyards spread, gastronomy followed - up to 8 of South Africa’s Top 100 restaurants are located in Franschhoek, perfect partners to the more than 40 extraordinary wine cellars.