The Wine Road to Franschhoek : the French corner
One of the most endearing cities in South Africa as a French citizen is the small town with the unpronounceable name of Franschhoek. Located in the vineyards near Cape Town, this town owes its name, which means « the French corner », from the French Huguenots who came to settle there in 1688 while the Dutch wanted to cultivate olive trees and vines on those land. These French expats, who were living in Holland since the revocation of the Nantes Edict by King Louis the XIVth, arrived in Franschhoek after a long and perilous boat journey of 3 months in which many were killed.
Today, the city cultivates its French roots that makes it unique. The streets have French names as well as the various vineyards and restaurants that can be found there. It is a paradise for lovers of fine wines, good food and shopping with a casual atmosphere while remaining elegant and refined.
We were extremely lucky to have lunch at the fabulous La Petite Colombe restaurant thanks to our dear South African friends Marleen and Jakes who organized everything to invite us. A big thank you to them for allowing us to live this unique afternoon and share it with them! Ranked 1st restaurant in Franschhoek on many search engines, La Petite Colombe does not lie its reputation. Everything, from our reception by the very young chef John Norris Rogers himself, to the cafe closing the meal, was a moment of happiness and pleasure of the senses! We had the feeling of tasting a cuisine worthy of a Michelin restaurant!
We chosed the meal in 5 courses with food and wine pairing. Each dish is announced and explained just like the wine that is chosen to go along with it. In the middle of the meal, you have the opportunity to approach the open kitchens and chat with one of the chef’s assistants who explains the roles of everyone in the kitchen. Then you discover a signature dish.
The meal lasted about 3 hours and it was a divine moment in a chic and distinguished surrounding without being stilted. If you want to discover this restaurant for a nice occasion or just for pleasure, you will need to book well in advance on their website La Petite Colombe.
The chefs and owners also have an exceptional restaurant in Cape Town ranked among the 10 best of South Africa: La Colombe. The hotel where La Petite Colombe is hosted is called Le Quartier Français and it is absolutely beautiful and reminiscent of Provencal farmhouses. This is a five stars hotel so the price of the rooms is accordingly. There are many atypical art works in both common areas and gardens.
The Whale Road to Hermanus
Betty’s Bay Nature Reserve
The city of Hermanus is also a pleasant city where it is very nice to stroll. Located at a 2 hours drive from Cape Town, you will preferably choose to get there by the beautiful N44 road that runs along the coast and will recall you the many cars advertisements of various brands that have been filmed there. The ocher cliffs fall into the turquoise blue sea and the road connects landscapes of beaches and mountain. You can stop on the way to Hermanus in the small town of Betty’s Bay which offers little interest if it is a Nature Reserve where you can observe the African penguins very closely.
Colonies of Great Cormorants and Cape Cormorants are easily visible as they nest close to the reserve road. To see them hovering in the waves taking advantage of the current they create is a feast for the eyes.
You will also have the opportunity to see the Cape Dassies, a strange animal that looks like a big hamster or a groundhog but which is oddly related to the elephant. The hyraceum they produce, a mixture of urine and excrement, is still used in perfumery !!!
A beautiful winery : Creation Wines
A 30 minutes drive west just before Hermanus, I can not recommend too much to visit the vineyard Creation Wines. Not only the place is incredible, the vineyards spreading around an artificial lake, but in addition their wines are extraordinary and you will be able to try several types of tasting (booking advised on their web site).
The most popular tasting is the tapas and wine pairing called « Experience the Story of Creation ». They have received numerous awards for this original tasting in 8 dishes and 8 paired wines which costs around 25 euros per person. You can also discover their iconic wines in accordance with different chocolates or during a brunch.
There are also tea tastings for people who do not drink alcohol or a tasting of juice and chocolates accompanied by pastries and candies for children wishing to accompany their parents during the vineyard visit. A beautiful place to discover!
The fynbos, composed of flowers typical of this region in the south of Cape Town, will accompany you throughout your trip! Among them, the proteas are the most spectacular.
Hermanus : the capital of whales
Hermanus has given itself the title of the capital of whales. And if it is true that it is easy to observe them from there, I will give you, in a next article, my favorite spot that is far superior to Hermanus in this field ! Right whales are present in South Africa from mid-July to mid-December as they come here to breed and give birth that were conceived the year before.
I have no hotel to recommend in Hermanus because I have always slept in Gansbaai, 30 minutes drive away, but you will find here beautiful boutique hotels with sea views for a great money value. However, I have three restaurants to recommend according to your budget and your tastes.
For lunch, there is a new restaurant very popular with locals: Betty Blue Bistro. A very good service, fresh, healthy and tasty dishes, original juices, in short, a perfect place to have a good time. The waitresses are adorable and do everything to help you. The restaurant also offers breakfasts and snacks.
Another perfect restaurant for lunch, a real institution in Hermanus is Dutchies a beach restaurant. You can eat at any time of day various fish or seafood dishes. The sushi there are also excellent. The view is amazing along a beautiful sandy beach, which is why it is best not to go there when there is too much wind at the risk of having a sandy meal. The waiters are also lovely, the atmosphere very pleasant and relaxed and the dishes arrive quickly.
A last restaurant to recommend for the evening is La Pentola. It enjoys a magnificent view of the sea and of the old harbour of Hermanus. You will be in the front row for the sunset. Chef Shane Sauvage is an atypical character who has been working in the best restaurants in South Africa before hosting the cooking part of a morning show on South African television. His restaurant offers many specialties he was able to perfect during his impressive career. The cuisine is inventive and interesting, with African, Asian or Italian influences but always with the use of local products.
The restaurant also serves a farmed abalone and is one of the few to offer that because the productions of these marine farms normally go directly to Japan. If you want to taste this mollusc that unleashes passions in the land of the Rising Sun, causing its near extinction in the South African Ocean, you can do it here without a bad conscience.