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City Franschhoek

Franschhoek is a village in the municipality of Stellenbosch in South Africa's Western Cape Province. The village is about 75 kilometers from Cape Town and is one of the oldest towns in South Africa.

The village was originally called Olifantshoek, due to the many elephants that were in the valley. In 1688, 176 French Huguenots came to live here, who had first fled from Catholic France to the Netherlands after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In the Netherlands religious freedom was ruled and they came into the service of the East India Company and sailed to the Dutch Cape Colony. The Huguenots are spread by the VOC policy throughout the Cape Colony, but Olifantshoek still creates a focal area.

The settlers in the Cape began calling it "French Quarter" or "French Corner" soon and came to name of the village which was officially "Frans Hoek", later simplified in the 18th century to Franschhoek. Despite the large number of Huguenots melting the French language fairly quickly with the other colonists and in 1829, when the Cape was in British hands, the French was already completely extinct and replaced by Cape Dutch, later Afrikaans.

Today there is a lot left over from the Huguenot times. Not only the names, but the names of many wine estates such as La Motte, La Cotte, Cabrière, Provence, Chamonix, Bien Donné, Champagne, Dieu Donné and Le Dauphiné. Bien Donné is an important agricultural research station today.

Franschhoek has many important vineyards and finest restaurants located in the village that are different from the rest of South Africa. The village and the flowery environment is a tourist attraction and are often done in conjunction with Stellenbosch from the metropolis of Cape Town.

Click here for a video of Franschhoek

A fun way to get to know Franschhoek better is with the Franschhoek Wine Tram.

Want to visit the Huguenot museum or the car museum in Franschhoek? Look here for more information: museums.

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Franschhoek Wine Tram

An original way to visit the wine estates of Franschhoek and historic buildings is to use the Franschhoek Wine Tram. You can buy a day ticket and during the day you can use the trams and tram-bus as much as you want to visit all the sights along the route. So you have the freedom to decide how long you will be at the different stops, seven in total. You can feast on the delicious South African wines without the risk of being arrested for driving under the influence. Part of the route to be traveled by tram is a railway line that was built in 1904 to transport merchandise easier than with a traditional bullock cart.

The tour starts at the ticket office at the Huguenot Road in the old town of Franschhoek, where to find the beautiful historic buildings, beautiful gardens full of roses and lavender and quaint eateries and shops. Those who want to know more about the history of Franschhoek can take a look at the Huguenot Museum where you can learn all about the French Protestant refugees who built a new life here. Other stops are at wineries with wines of high quality where you can taste wine to your heart's content, see the wine cellars or have delicious food in its restaurants. The vineyards are all wonderful and seem even more beautiful with a bright blue sky and mountains in the background.

The wine states that are included are: Haute Cabrière, Dieu Donne, Chamonix, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence with an art gallery and an excellent restaurant. All these estates have wines of excellent quality, both in terms of wine and food and they have a history of 300 years. It is advisable to book a table if you want to eat during your "day by tram" at the restaurants of the wine estates.

The tram and bus-tram route is ridden with departures every 40 minutes from 10:00 to 14:40 from the ticket office. Look closely at what time the last pick-up round is so you do not miss the tram / bus from your last stop (ranging from 15:30 to 17:30 depending on the route mapped out by you). The website contains detailed information about the route and the stops so you can organize your day. Since there are a limited number of tickets per day available, you should book in advance, via the website: Franschhoek Tram Route. Are you in Franschhoek and want to use the tram route anyway? Go to the Franschhoek Wine Tram ticket office in the center of Franschhoek (Huguenot Street) to inquire if there are still tickets available.

Adult rate ZAR 150, including wine tasting at Rickety Bridge and Dieu Donne and a welcome drink at Grande Provence. Children aged 5-17 pay ZAR 75 and children under 5 can go free (prices in June 2013, check out the website for current prices and updates).

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Franschhoek Museums

Huguenot Museum
The most famous museum of Franschhoek is the Huguenot museum where the story of the French origin is told. Around 1562 a movement of Protestants who opposed the Roman Catholic faith originated in France, at that time the only permitted religion. Many of these followers of Calvin were persecuted and murdered. Later, under the reign of other kings the Protestant faith was more tolerated though not all Frenchmen agree. Then in 1685, when King Louis XIV took the throne, the Protestant faith was again banned and the persecution of the Protestant Huguenots was arrested again. Many of them fled away from France, including to South Africa where the Dutch colonists prevailed. Franschhoek has clear visible traces of the Huguenots and the South African wine culture originated there.

Hours: Monday / Saturday 09:00-17:00 and on Sundays from 14:00 to 17:00.

Franschhoek Motor Museum
The Franschhoek Motor Museum offers visitors the opportunity to see the history of the car in South Africa. A unique collection of cars, motorbikes and bicycles can be seen in the museum with an area of ​​2700 square meters. The collection ranges from a tricycle from the year 1898 to a Ferrari Enzo in 2003. A must-see for the car lovers!

Opening hours: Mon / Fri 10:00-17:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-16:00. Last admission is one hour before closing.

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