Settled by French Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries, the region in Western Cape Province is known as the French Corner of the Cape and is considered to be the food and wine capital of South Africa. The first night at Mont Rochelle, a 26-bedroom luxury hotel and vineyard, impressed Australia-based Sonia Pilovska from Luxury Escapes. ‘We include Franschhoek in our programmes and I’d like to add Mont Rochelle to them,’ she says. ‘It’s understated; two nights here and you would feel like you’d been on holiday for ages. Food and wine are a big part of our experiences, as well as ‘getting under the skin’ of a destination’s culture. The Franschhoek region suits this.’
Value for money in South Africa is still a strong selling point. Lunch at top-end La Petite Colombe Restaurant where the group had a four-course meal (think yellowfin tuna, seared impala and springbok tataki), with wine, cost $55 pp. At La Motte’s cellar door, seven wines were sampled, with notes for $5.75 pp. Franschhoek’s other claim to fame is Drakenstein Prison. Previously called Victor Verster, it was where Nelson Mandela spent his last three months of incarceration and finally ‘walked to freedom’ on 11 February 1990.
- Trish Freeman