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Bed & Breakfast Inns of Cape Town and the Western Cape, South Africa
Franschhoek, Cape Winelands

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Home  -  Western Cape Bed & Breakfasts  - Franschhoek - Cape Winelands


Vineyard in FranschhoekFranschhoek is situated in the magnificent winelands of the Cape and is considered to be the gourmet capital of South Africa.  The town is nestled in a picturesque valley with many excellent restaurants and quaint shops.  Spectacular vineyards cover these mountain slopes which were settled 300 years ago by the Huguenots, who brought with them their age-old French wine and food culture.  

Also see: Winelands Accommodation

More reading on the area: History and Heritage of the people of Franschhoek

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Auberge Clermont Auberge Clermont, Bed and Breakfast, FRANSCHHOEK
This magnificent auberge has been created in an old wine cellar set amid vineyards.  Every room has been individually and stylishly decorated. Underfloor heating and ceiling fans ensure year round comfort. Superb bathrooms feature double basins, separate showers and heated towel rails.  Delicious breakfasts are served on the terrace under 140-year old oak trees overlooking the plum orchards or in the charming courtyard dining room.  In addition, Clermont has an historic self-catering two bedroomed villa, with private swimming pool, large covered terrace, and stunning views of the Franschhoek mountains. The villa also has a large loft room with ensuite shower - ideal for children.
Angala Boutique Hotel and Guest House, Franschhoek Angala Boutique Hotel, Bed and Breakfast, FRANSCHHOEK
Our Inn is set in the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains, with magnificent views.  With only 8 suites it offers a quiet retreat with a swimming pool for guests, mountain walks, bird watching and easy access to tour the nearby historical towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl.  We are only 45 minutes (60km) from Cape Town and the Waterfront.  All our rooms have en suite bathrooms, their own private patio and garden with  views across a winelands valley and mountain range.  All have television,  mini-bar, hairdryer, and many other comforts.
La Fontaine Guesthouse La Fontaine Guest House, Bed and Breakfast, FRANSCHHOEK
La Fontaine welcomes you into the heart of Franschhoek, 1 hour from Cape Town. Experience country hospitality in this gracious, centrally situated home with spectacular mountain views.  Within walking distance to acclaimed restaurants, galleries and shops. Within safe walking distance to the award winning restaurants, wineries, art galleries, shops and museum. Generous buffet breakfasts served indoors or under vine-covered pergola. Wheelchair friendly, off-street and secure parking in the Victorian section. Tennis, Bowls, fly fishing, horse riding, wine tasting, chocolate factory shop, hiking, cycling nearby.  Golf, credit cards Visa, Master, and no smoking policy. Children are welcome in garden and family suites only, laundry services, baby-sitting services and free Wi-Fi access. 
Residence Klein Oliphants Hoek Residence Klein Oliphants Hoek, Boutique Hotel, B&B, FRANSCHHOEK
An elegant, sophisticated and comfortable guest house set in the heart of the Franschhoek village, pearl of the Cape Winelands. Build as a mission station in 1888, this stunning guest house offers old-time chic and a touch of colonial splendour with warm, personalised, outstanding service. Guests can sit on the verandah overlooking the beautiful rose and lavender scented garden surrounded by a magnificent view of the Franschhoek Mountains. After an unforgettable day spent enjoying the many attractions and activities offered in the Franschhoek region, you will feel at home getting back to Klein Oliphants. The kitchen, with its original wood-burning stove and spotless granite surfaces, is the heart and soul of the house. It is here that Renata and her talented chef, Thurston Viljoen has put together one of the most original menus in Franschhoek a mouth-watering selection of authentic Italian dishes combined with more traditional, but equally tempting, South African fare.
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History and Heritage of the people of Franschhoek   by AlterSage

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Franschhoek is a beautiful, scenic valley in the Cape Winelands, and home to many of South Africa's leading wine estates. It's here that some of the world's best wines are produced, and where visitors can explore the lush vineyards that were established hundreds of years ago. Franschhoek is one of the settled regions in South Africa, and carries a rich history that dates back as far as the 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with local dwellers, foreign settlers and slaves.

FranschhoekFranschhoek features many museums, monuments and places of cultural interest that reveal this fascinating history. While most people travel to the region to sample its fine wines and cuisine, it's well worth visiting its museums too - such as the Huguenot Memorial Museum, the Museum van de Caab, and even the Franschhoek Motor Museum.

The history of the Huguenots in Franschhoek is well documented; however, the history of the original inhabitants of the area, the San and Khoi tribes-people, is not as well known. Read on to learn more about these early inhabitants, and be sure to visit the museums in Franschhoek for valuable insight into the history of the area.

The Khoikhoi and San Bushmen in the Cape

For thousands of years the Franschhoek Valley was inhabited by indigenous hunter-gather groups, known as the 'San' or Bushmen. Even further back than this, evidence of our human ancestors can be found in the stone tools they left behind and the rock paintings found in the mountains that surround Wemmershoek Dam, just a few kilometres outside of Franschhoek. Around two thousand years ago, nomadic Khoikhoi tribes moved down through Southern Africa and introduced the practice of herding.

With the Khoi now competing for the same resources in the winter rainfall region of the Western Cape as the hunter-gatherers, the San found themselves pushed towards the more arid mountain and desert regions. When European explorers entered into the Cape interior in the 17th century they noticed that various Khoi tribes passed through the Franschhoek region on a seasonal basis. It would primarily have been the Cochoqua that used the Berg River Valley as grazing land for their stock. This tribe consisted of two branches: one led by Oedasoa who inhabited the Mosselbank River (west of the Perdeberg), and another under the chieftainship of Gonnama who lived along the Berg river (in the vicinity of present day Riebeeck-Kasteel).

The arrival of the European settlers

In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape to take up his post as commander of the new Dutch East India Company refreshment station. His mandate was to transform the area into a fruit and vegetable plantation, as well as to barter with the indigenous Khoi for their livestock, build a ship-mending facility, and erect a hospital.

To achieve these goals, he required a number of slaves, and sought the local tribesmen for labour. However, the indigenous inhabitants refused to become labourers, wishing to retain their nomadic lifestyle. Thus, the importing of slaves began in 1658 from countries including India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Madagascar and even Angola. The labour force was large, and the Cape settlement was no longer simply a refreshment station for trading ships en route to the East, but a sizeable colony.

FranschhoekThe establishment of Franschhoek, and the birth of a new culture

Individual Huguenots began to settle in the Cape from 1671 onwards. From 1688 to 1689, a large number fled religious persecution in France as protestant-reformed Christians and immigrated to the Cape of Good Hope to find a new life. The name "Franschhoek" stems from the Dutch phrase "Fransche Hoek", which means "French corner". The Dutch referred to the area as the "French corner" because of the significant number of French nationals living there.

Farms were granted to these new settlers, all bearing French names in honour of their country of origin. Many farms today still have their original names given to them by the French settlers who built them.

Over the following years, the lifestyle and culture of the area became very cosmopolitan. Eastern cultures embraced by the Indian, Malaysian and Asian slaves merged with the European cultures of the Dutch and French Huguenot settlers. Indigenous groups found it impossible to sustain their traditional ways of living off the landscape as their access to grazing land and watering places for cattle became increasingly restricted by colonial occupation of the region. They too became incorporated within colonial life as they worked for farmers on a seasonal basis. Intermarriage between slaves and their masters was common in the early years. The male European population far outweighed the female European population.

The decline of the Khoikhoi and San Bushmen

After the loss of their seasonal grazing ground to European settlement, the fate of these indigenous groups worsened in 1713 when a smallpox epidemic hit the Cape. The San and Khoi would suffer the greatest number of losses, with the smallpox seeing to their near disappearance from the south-western Cape.

In 1701, the Dutch East India Company was in charge of the colony. A law was passed that all schools would instruct in Dutch only, to preserve Dutch culture and identity. Thus, as time passed, French culture was "phased out". By the middle of the 18th century, the population spoke only Dutch, and French had become an extinct language in the area. Soon, Afrikaner culture began to emerge. The Afrikaans language is the youngest language in the world, and evolved from colloquial Dutch but also included the languages of the slaves and even local indigenous groups.

Afrikaner and Cape Malay culture

Gradually, the Cape Colony began to establish its own identity, and the cuisine, music and traditions that evolved are still widely embraced today. Many South African food dishes and culinary styles of today originate from Europe and the East. An example of this is bobotie, a basic cottage pie with Eastern influences, which is made with curried mince, egg custard and dried fruit. Blatjang (spicy chutney) is another culinary result of the mixing of European and Eastern culture.

Music was a popular form of entertainment during the 17th and 18th centuries. Slaves were trained to play musical instruments to entertain their masters. Many country estates in the Cape Colony had their own orchestras comprised of slaves. 'Ghoemaliedjies' were a creolised form of song and music containing Eastern influences and often satirical messages sung by slaves about their masters.

Remnants of history in contemporary South Africa

Much of the current population in the Cape descends from the European settlers and Eastern slaves. Many "Cape Coloured" families have surnames that were given to their ancestors as slaves, as their names were difficult for the Europeans to pronounce. Many South Africans are descendants of the French-Huguenots as well. Surnames such as Le Roux, De Klerk, Malan and Cronje are of French origin and common in South Africa today. Due to prevalence of mixed marriages and relationships between masters and slaves, many South Africans have shared origins.

Venturing to the Cape Winelands, and exploring its historic enclaves, reveals much about the history of the Cape. Towns such as Franschhoek offer fascinating insight into the earliest origins of the Winelands, and strong cultural influences are still felt throughout the region today, both in its architecture and its cuisine.

Be sure to visit Franschhoek's museums, monuments and vineyards, and explore the historically rich site of some of the country's top wines and cuisine.

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About the Author: Solms-Delta is a wine farm located in Franschhoek, South Africa, and houses the Museum van de Caab, a historical showcase of the Cape cultural heritage of the local community and the history of the Solms-Delta wine estate.

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Latest update: September 27, 2016