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Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Belfast
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Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

This seems to be a common question for visitors to the Cape.

Here is what Wine Magazine had to say about the wonders of Franschhoek;

"Where to stay and winter package deals

There are numerous places to stay in Franschhoek - ranging from A-rate (R1 500 +) to F-rate (R0 - R200). The beautiful thing is that an "F" rate does not necessarily translate into ‘shabby', since establishments are very much focused on maintaining a level of style complementary to what the village has come to represent.

If you are visiting on a budget, booking into a lower-rate establishment makes sense - there is so much to experience and you do not want to run out of cash. We booked into Bo La Motte cottages, just outside the village but still within easy walking distance to the town center.

Run by Jennie Troth and Maarten de Graaf, Bo La Motte offers just what you need for a country stay. Separate self-catering cottages allow for absolute privacy. It is cosy too, with a fireplace in each "country house" boasting country-chic interiors. Bo La Motte Cottages can be booked from R600 to R1200 per cottage. Tel 021 876 3067, www.bolamotte.com.

Rose Cottages from R700 to R1250 per night also come highly recommended by locals, tel. 021 876 3425, www.rosecottages.co.za.

Book into La Petite Ferme for R2800 to R3800 for two people sharing which includes a gift pack in your room, a cellar tour and wine tasting and a complimentary lunch worth R300. (Valid 1st May to 30th September 2009). Tel 021 876 3016/8, www.lapetiteferme.co.za.

Akademie Street Guest Houses in town offers numerous deals and rates for the "romantic season" (16 May to 30 September 2009) vary between R1800 to R2800 per house, per night. Tel 021 876 3027, www.aka.co.za.

What we did and liked:

Visit iCi to get a taste from the best restaurant kitchen in South Africa. Tel: 021 876 2151. www.lequartier.co.za.

Eat mussels at French Connection Bistro in town. Tel: 021 876 4056, www.frenchconnection.co.za

Try authentic French Cuisine at Mon Plaisir. Frogs' legs with butter, pepper and garlic are tasty but what got our vote as best dish of the trip was undeniably the restaurant's wafer-thin apple tart. Tel: 021 876 2393, www.monplaisir.co.za.

An absolute must visit is the Salmon Bar in town. They have a bevy of dishes to choose from, each one seemingly as appetising as the next. This is a return-for. Tel: 021 876 4591, www.salmonbar.com.

Môreson's Deli for delectable products such as marula-infused balsamic vinegar, tel 021 876 3055, www.moreson.co.za. The restaurant, Bread and Wine, should also be payed a visit, 021 876 3692. They do a delicious charcuterie tasting and they do "cooking with Neil Jewell" once a week. Quoted to be really "wow".

Bouillabaisse for the most delicious oyster snacks, tel 021 876 4430, www.bouillabaisse.co.za.

La Cotte Inn wine Sales & Fromage de France, for French cheeses and rare wine finds from the underground cellar, tel 021 876 2192.

Kalfi's restaurant for home cooked meals and photographs of Franschhoek in the olden days. Tel 021 876 2520.

Visit the Motor Museum at L'Omarins, tel 021 874 9000, www.lomarins.co.za.

Solms Delta's Museum van den Caab for a history of the Cape Winelands, tel 021 874 3937, www.solms-delta.co.za.

In Franschhoek it is important to get your fix of bubbly and wine, as recommended by WINE and a Franschhoek local:

Graham Beck wine cellar runs an excellent tasting room. Tel 021 874 1258, www.grahambeckwines.com.

Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, for über-delicious bubbly. Tel 021 876 4348, www.colmant.co.za.

Let winemaker Achim von Arnim show you traditional sabrage at Cabrière. Tel 021 876 8500, www.cabriere.co.za.

Visit Jaqueline Haasbroek of My Wyn, a tiny winery on the mountainside. Jaqueline gives an enthusiastic and personalised tour with the most breathtaking view. Tel 021 876 2518.

Nigel and Joy McNaught at Stony Brook. Joy gives a great tasting of their wines. They are also involved in a winery in New Zealand. Tel 021 876 2182, www.stonybrook.co.za

Nick Davies from Morena wines gives a great MCC and Champagne tasting at Franschhoek Pass Winery - which makes for a spectacular view. Tel 082 55 98 063.

For the outdoor spirit:

Pieter Hugo from Robertsvlei does horse rides which include wine tastings at Rickety Bridge wines and Mont Rochelle. Tel 021 876 2160.

Rob Armstrong from Haut Espoir offers biodiversity walks. Tel 021 876 4000.

Geddan from Manic Bicycles rents out bicycles but also offers tailor-made bicycle tours to include wine tastings at various farms. Tel 021 876 4956.

Vrede en Lust runs a ‘wine-safari' that take guests up to Simonsberg in an open Land Rover where they do a wine and food pairing, at R350 per person. Tel 021 874 1611.

Helicopter trips are available from Klein Champagne Farm. Tel 084 419 7520."

Cape Town
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1. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

And Stellenbosch?......

Belfast
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2. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Apparently nothing worth saying !!! (LOL)

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Isn't Stellenbosch the place you drive through on the way to Franschhoek?

Cape Town
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4. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Well Belfast, from the title of your post I assumed that you were going to help visitors with their "common question" but this simply seems to be the copy of an article from this months Wine Magazine on Franschhoek - probably to redress the fact that every month they have two or three articles on Stellenbosch and it's wines. Surprisingly, in an article from South Africa's premier wine magazine they couldn't find much to recommend about Franschhoek wines!

Anyway to provide balancing information to help answer your question here are a few lines put together be Stellenbosch Tourism and myself!

The Wine Capital of the Cape :

The Stellenbosch winelands are considered to be the capital of the South African wine industry. The climate and soils of the Stellenbosch winelands are ideal for grape growing. With over 60 estates it is also the leading centre for viticulture and viticultural research. The region has South Africa’s oldest wine route, where visitors can taste the produce from most of the Stellenbosch wine estates.

Simon van der Stel arrived at the Cape as commander in 1679 and soon after was appointed its first governor. Later that year he undertook his first tour of inspection, which brought him to ‘the most charming valley he had ever seen' - the Stellenbosch winelands.

So enchanted was he that he set up camp in a grove he named Stellenbosch, and there decided to establish a second settlement after Cape Town. He grew to love the town, spending his birthdays there. And he ordered the planting of the oaks, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Eikestad, or ‘town of oaks'. Today these massive trees shade the historic Dorp Street, which runs through the well-preserved old town which has more National Heritage sites than any other town in South Africa. Many of these buidings, dating back to the seventeenth century and later, can be visited as part of the Stellenbosch Village Museum.

While initially established as a centre to produce fruit and vegetables, van der Stel had a hunch that its Mediterranean climate would be ideal for wine growing. He was right.

The region now boasts South Africa's oldest wine route, where visitors can taste the produce of more than 40 Stellenbosch wine estates. Based on the French Route de Vin and German wine routes, it was launched in 1971.

Along these routes are sited most of the very top estates in the country. The Stellenbosch designated Wine Region is the home of more top rated Estates, as classified by 4-5 star ratings in the Platter Guide to South African Wines, than all the other wine regions in South Africa combined.

Together with great wines, some of the finest restaurants in the Western Cape are located on these estates, many of which offer other attractions such as horse-riding trails.

There are scenic walks in and around the area, including a full day trek through the winelands in Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch is also the home of one of South Africa’s oldest and most prestigious Universities whose main campus is a lovely place to visit. Another quiet place to visit are the University Botanical Gardens, which are one of the oldest in South Africa. As an important cultural and heritage centre there are also many museums and galleries, especially in the old part of town. On the outskirts is the new Rupert Museum which is a wonderful, purpose built Art Museum in the middle of the vineyards. It is now the home of one of the most important collections of South African Art as well as the venue for major International Exhibitions. Currently, until the end of 2010, it is staging the biggest exhibition of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin to be held outside Europe or North America.

The town is also a major centre of the performing arts in South Africa with regular classical concerts being given in the Endler Hall of the University Conservatorium, the Fismer Hall and the Stellenbosch Town Hall. With the University, the town has it’s own Symphony Orchestra as well chamber ensembles and is a regular venue for visiting international soloists and conductors. In the summer the outdoor arenas at both, Oude Libertas and Spier host a wide range of South African and International arts events including both Opera and Ballet. Lighter popular concerts are also held and, of course the University and many of the surrounding pubs are regular venues for a wide range of pop and rock groups.

How to get here :

Stellenbosch is easily accessible by road, about a 40-minute drive from Cape Town.

Where to stay :

The town of Stellenbosch has numerous quality establishments from budget B&Bs to award-winning hotels. Many of the Wine estates also have accommodation ranging from the new international 5-star hotel on the Asara Estate and the Manor House luxury of Lanzerac, to B&Bs in 18th century farmhouses.

Around the area :

Stellenbosch is both a student and wine town so there's plenty to keep one busy, from raucous nightlife to staid museums and more. The scenery in the area is absolutely stunning and a short walk from the town you can get right into the mountains and then hike for hours on mountain trails in the Jonkershoek Forest Reserve.

Tours to do :

Take the Stellenbosch Wine Route, which is a great way to see the area - as well as taste it's wines.

How to get around :

Your own transport, be it a car or a bicycle, is best, so one can wander the Stellenbosch winelands at your own pace.

What will it cost :

That all depends on how much wine you plan to taste and buy!

Length of stay :

Give yourself at least a weekend to explore the Stellenbosch winelands, longer if possible.

What to eat :

There are dozens of wonderful restaurants in the old town and on many of the wine estates. These include three of South Africa’s top six restaurants in 2009 - Terroir at Kleine Zalze, Overture at Hidden Valley and Rust-en-Vrede.

What's happening :

Watch out for the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, an annual event held in August.

Best buys :

Wine, wine and more wine.

Who to contact :

For further information on the Stellenbosch winelands and forthcoming events in the area contact Stellenbosch Tourism on +27 (0) 21 883 3584.

Alternatively visit their website at www.tourismstellenbosch.co.za.

Cape Town
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5. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

One mistake. The 60 Wine Estates just got cut from elswhere. There are actually 192 - I just counted them!

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch's two other claims to fame, or infamy, are as the intellectual crucible of both apartheid, and the Experimental Law Variations in rugby!

Belfast
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7. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Vdc - the debate will rage on no doubt between the two.

My real opinion is that the best thing to do is both. As you know we are spending a week in the Winelands on our next trip. We will stay in Franschhoek because we prefer it as a base of operations - the fact that you can walk to restaurants at night is perhaps the single most decisive factor. However most of our time will be spent west of Tokara, for the reasons you put forward.

I felt the article was worth posting as it is a useful summary of what is available in F. You may say that F is not central to all that the Winelands has to offer but with the scenery as it is then who minds doing a bit of driving around.

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8. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

Belfast, of course I agree that both should be on any Itinerary for a first time visitor to the Winelands.

As a base however it is a matter of individual choice. For example I do often stay over in the Winelands for various reasons. It is years since I have ever stayed in Franschhoek but I stay in Stellenbosch frequently. We will be there in a fortnight's time for two nights at D'Ouwe Werf Hotel in the town. In September we will be staying for a weekend at the lovely Majeka House for a Spa weekend with lovely Mountain views and great wine and restaurants all around. They have one of the best (or maybe the best!) Winter Specials in the Winelands.

R1800 per person sharing in a Premier Room - 2 x nights accommodation - 1 x Dinner at our restaurant - 2 x R200 vouchers for a dinner at Bodega on Dornier Estate - 2 x Tranquillity massage - Gourmet Breakfast each morning. Using the Bodega Vouchers for lunch and going five minutes down the road to Rust en Vrede for the second dinner to sample David Higgs' great cuisine.

Franschhoek is also a lovely place to stay and relax - I personaly wouldn't stay in town for that reason. Stellenbosch, on the other hand, has much more to see and do - especially in the winter. On a cold, wet day in Franschhoek what do you do - except go to Stellenbosch! As you say, I am sure the debate will continue.

Anyway much more serious events this afternoon to concentrate on - Lions v. Boks round 2!!!

9. Re: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch

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