Now that I finally have a really decent camera, Nikon D3400, (not that I don’t still love my Sony Xperia XA’s smartphone camera!), I have decided to try something new on the blog: photo essays, with a twist.
These photo essays will summarise my recent trips, itineraries and travel experiences in and around the Western Cape.
Sometimes my blog is so focused on one aspect of an area that I feel I don’t always completely promote all it offers visitors! So I hope this content will be both useful and insightful to you, my readers.
Now, without further ado, let’s dive in…
Where am I wandering this time?
For this first post, I invite you to join us in Franschhoek the Fair. Which, for the third time this year, was where we headed for another exciting review (but more on that soon; watch this space!)…
This time, we had some free time, so we did more ‘touristy things’ than usual. This was thoroughly enjoyable and I would like to share the trip’s highlights with you.
I feel very fortunate to visit Franschhoek at all… let alone thrice in a few short months. And honestly, the more we visit this wine valley, the more I fall head-over-travel-heels in love with it!
It’s no wonder then that, on weekends especially, the town is a mixture of friendly locals and besotted out-of-towners and tourists. With its gorgeous ring of mountains, fabulous wine farms, wine tram and of course, the top-class restaurants… It’s impossible not to be charmed!
1. Coffee and cake at Cafe BonBon
I have previously written about Cafe BonBon in a previous writing life… so it’s a place that felt very familiar to me, despite the fact that I had never been there before!
So when my boyfriend decided, on the spur of the moment, that we should head there quickly, I was naturally very interested and excited to finally visit it.
It’s almost like choosing out a gift and then waiting till Christmas Day to open it… You know what you’re getting but all of the magic is still there!
Cafe BonBon enjoys one of the most gorgeous farm settings, courtesy of La Petite Dauphine, an exquisite working wine farm with wonderful accommodation. (Psst: They also double as a most beautiful wedding venue.)
Think beautiful porch dining overlooking a spurting fountain (and in this instance, vivid autumn colours) and trees, magical garden spaces and either courtyard dining or cosy, yet sumptuous interiors, perfect for romantic dinner dates or special occasions…
Oh and did I mention the cafe and its setting ooze a restful sense of old-world Cape charm (with a hint of something almost European), and quality food and drinks offerings?
What we ate: I had a cappuccino (R25) with chocolate cake, while my boyfriend had a normal coffee (R20) with the carrot and walnut cake. (Both were oh-so-good and the coffee was excellent!) Cake slices are sizable, making them good value at R50.
When we visited: Mid-morning on a beautiful, sunny Saturday.
Did we book in advance: No, although I did apologise for it at first… 🙂 If we go again, I would probably book ahead online or over the phone…
When is Cafe BonBon open: Monday to Sunday, 08:00 am – 17:00 pm (breakfast and lunch), and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 08:00 am – 17:00pm; 19:30 pm – 20:30pm (according to Google).
Where is Cafe BonBon: La Petite Dauphine, Excelsior Road, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
2. Our late (but great) lunch at Good Food & Co
I always try to do research for great, yet affordable food spots ahead of our important trips, especially when we visit more discerning foodie regions…
Obviously, sometimes (like with Cafe BonBon) this changes on the day (usually when something else catches our eye) – but particularly in a place like Franschhoek, world-famous for its food and wine, it’s always good to plot this out as far as possible, I find – especially if you’re not looking to break the bank.
Meaning nine out of ten times, we’ll decide on a place (which I have researched relentlessly, checking recent TripAdvisor and Facebook reviews like there’s no tomorrow) and it turns out to be a really great experience for us.
Such was the case with Good Food & Co Deli and Restaurant… You see, after trawling Google’s ‘best affordable franschhoek restaurants’ the night before, I finally found a spot that showed extreme potential and had good reviews to boot!
The menu, which is a organically health-focused (with a few vegan and vegetarian options, to keep everyone happy), complements their slogan of ‘good food, good service and good value’ perfectly.
This laid-back, yet delightful eatery and deli – run by Joey Stiglingh and Emmarentia Klaasen and their team – has great street views, a great central position (across from Ryan’s Kitchen at the Place Vendome Lifestyle Centre), tasty, yet varied food and drink options and good, welcoming service.
It was a really good, affordable and perfectly enjoyable meal for us… I would definitely go back there and can certainly recommend Good Food & Co.
What we ate: I had a delicious and filling Salmon, Cream Cheese and Avocado Sandwich (on whole wheat bread, and served with mouthwatering chips) for R72. Along with my meal, I tried an African Sunrise Smoothie, which was one of the best smoothies I’ve had.
My boyfriend opted for a filter coffee (R16) and a Chicken Schnitzel (topped with bacon and cheese sauce; it usually comes with avo but unlike me, he’s not a fan of it) with chips for R90.
Both meals were large and delicious all-round (particularly mine) and our drinks were good too. Bonus: Each drink came with an adorable and yummy mini-muffin.
Did we book in advance: No, we didn’t.
When is Good Food & Co open: Monday – Saturday, 08:00 am – 18:00 pm, Sunday, 08:00 am – 16:00pm.
Where is Good Food & Co: 13 Main Road, Place Vendome Lifestyle Centre, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
3. Road Trip Vibes: Franschhoek Pass (R45)
Having both grown up in Montagu, I think my boyfriend and I have a real appreciation for nature and in particular, mountains… which means we both love driving along and exploring new mountain passes.
I don’t think (although I could be wrong) that the famous Franschhoek Pass is one I have ever been up before, but it’s one that I will definitely revisit.
It is a stunning drive, with something great view spots and sharp twists in the road, and has some cool landmarks, like Haute Cabriere and La Petite Ferme on the way.
Another point of interest is the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve (the entrance is found atop the pass) and further on, Theewaterskloof Dam. At the time of our visit, this usually endless body of water was sadly extremely low due to the Cape’s severe, ongoing drought…
This beautiful pass (also called Lambrechts Road) is primarily the bridge between Franschhoek and Villiersdorp – but it is also quite possibly the best place to go to enjoy the breathtaking patchwork quilt of the Franschhoek Valley.
From up there, Franschhoek stretches out before your eyes seemingly without end, disturbed only by the impressive mountains that protectively encircle it.
Where we stopped: We stopped at least thrice for photo opportunities; each more special than the last!
When we visited: Close to sunset on a beautiful, clear Saturday in mid-April.
Who designed the Franschhoek Pass: The Pass was formally constructed in 1822 by Major Holloway and a group of soldiers, who were following the orders of Lord Charles Somerset.
Points of interest: The Jan Joubertsgat bridge, one of the oldest in South Africa; the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve entrance; and further down, Theewaterskloof Dam.
Where to find it: R45, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
4. Journey’s End: Sunset at the Huguenot Monument
Finally, before we bid Franschhoek good-bye, we made a quick stop outside Franschhoek’s Hugenot Monument for some quick snaps.
This impressive memorial monument – surrounded by beautiful rose bushes and rolling lawns – was inaugurated on April 17, 1948. It depicts a female figure with a Bible in one hand and a broken chain in her other. (The three lofty arches behind her represent the Holy Trinity.)
Next door, you will also find the Huguenot Memorial Museum (which had unfortunately just closed). This beautiful building is the rebuilt Saasveld building, which was once the elegant 18th century home of Baron Willem Ferdinand van Reede van Oudtshoorn.
When we visited: We just stopped by but it was late evening.
What there is to do: Explore the museum and the grounds, and learn all about the history of the Huguenots.
What it costs to visit: R10 (adults), R5 (students) and R2 (children).
When the museum is open: Monday – Saturday, 09:00 am – 17:00 pm, Sunday, 14:00 – 17:00pm.
Where to find the museum and monument: Lambrecht Street, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
In closing: I hope you have enjoyed this handy taster of Franschhoek… Be sure to keep an eye out for my next wandering trip around the Western Cape!
Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.