36 Hours in Franschhoek, South Africa (A Foodie Haven!)
About an hour’s drive from Cape Town – and less than half an hour from Stellenbosch, South Africa’s oldest settlement and centre of its wine production – lies the small town of Franschhoek, which has the unlikely distinction of being one of the world’s gastronomic capitals. There’s an unreality about this tiny place (population: 20,000), the white-washed, gabled Cape Dutch homesteads made immaculate by the clarity of light. However, despite the Dutch influence, it’s the French Huguenots we have to thank for this special heritage (Franschhoek means “French Corner” in Dutch). Fleeing persecution under Louis XIV and invited to the Cape by Dutch Protestants, the Huguenots brought their knowledge of wine-making – and restaurants have sprung up to make the most of this fine resource. These days you’ll need to get in training for the feast of food and drink that’s on offer, but it can always be walked off on one of the many trails around the Drakenstein and Wemmershoek mountain ranges that circle the town. Now is an ideal time to visit this wonderful spot, when its spring-summer climate more or less guarantees dining al fresco under the Southern Cross.