Words and images by Nancy Richards
Believe it or not it IS possible to do South Africa’s gourmet capital affordably – just drink in inspiration and binge on food for the soul.
MAISON ET JARDIN
You may never own one, nor even stay in one – but nothing to stop you admiring all the pretty lavender, broekie lace and picket fence homes just off the main street. Pick up exterior decor tips for your humble plek back in the city burbs, and gasp while peering at property prices in the estate agents windows.
Pity not to try any wine in this land of the vignerons – so you can taste, but no rules say you have to buy. Soak up l‘experience with fabulous vineyard view from the balcony at La Bri (tasting from R40) or splash out and try the two non-vintage bubbles at Le Lude (tasting R50). Bonus here you can also wander their superb landscaped grounds and collector’s rose garden. www.labri.co.za www.lelude.co.za
DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH
Prefer a more sober beverage? Go to the Medicinal Herb Garden at the end of town and buy a bottle of detoxifying buchu water for R60. In this small but creatively meandering space laid out next to the old railway tracks, you can also buy bundles of soothing impepu and other healing herbs. Call Rastaman Judah James for info on 072 469 2240
There’s a feast of art in the public squares and galleries. No need to invest, just look with discerning eyes and note favourites for when your lotto ticket pays out. Find sculptures from the continent at African Art in Huguenot St and Garden Gallery in Hugenote Square or follow the Franschhoek Art Route with 25 destinations – pick up a map at info offices. www.franschhoek.org.za
Work up an appetite by trawling the main street eateries, and look for bargains – like this one at the Village Tart. Alternatively pop in to the new Woolworths or Pick n Pay, buy-your-own fresh fare, find a leafy spot, preferably near some vines, and enjoy le pique-nique.
The town hasn’t always been a stylish tourist destination – once it was a bleak valley filled with marauding animals. Visit the truly fascinating Memorial Museum and find out what the French Huguenots saw when they were corralled here in the late 17th century. Entrance to museum and annexe is just R20 (R10 for students, R5 for children), same again to enter the gardens with iconic Memorial. Grab a bargain cappuccino at the onsite Oude Slavenhuis for R22 or a verre du vin for R30.
Gifts and souvenirs that won’t break the bank, are available fresh off the production line at the Franschhoek Craft Centre co-founded 20 years ago by local craftswoman Joan Jephta.
Browse the irresistible second-hand bookshop and pick up some bargain titles and cookbooks.
Join in with the residents at the Saturday Morning Market in the centre of town. Weather permitting, the place hums with activity around homemade food and craft stalls, the music is live and people watching is for nothing.
Best bargain in town is a sleep over at the Travellers Lodge – former boarding house, freshened up with rooms for individuals, couples, families or groups – from R250 a head. Minutes from the town centre, there’s also a sunny lounge and lawns for chilling.
ON YOUR BIKE
Save fuel and footslog, hire a bike from Franschhoek Cycles to cruise the wine estates. R190 for half a day.
Finally – a beautiful view is absolutely free. So just allow lots of image space on Instagram or Facebook – and Franschhoek is yours for the taking!