WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK IMAGES: SUPPLIED, SHUTTERSTOCK
Art galleries and top restaurants line the village street, numerous annual festivals draw visitors year-round, and there’s always something on the calendar. Yes, Franschhoek seems to have it all. “It’s a nice blend of country and cosmopolitan,” says resident Siegfried Schäfer. So much so that it becomes a hard place to leave. “Within a few months, a 20-minute drive feels like a helluva schlepp!” he says.
Despite the cosmopolitan gloss it’s still very much a village. “A trip to buy bread can take an hour just saying hello to the people you bump into,” says Martine Bauer, Franschhoek Life. And the small community of lifelong residents and newer arrivals really does stand together. “This year we had some bad fires and everyone did their share to help the firemen,” says resident Marie-Louise Oosthuizen. There’s also a significant “swallows” community of summer residents, who she says are truly missed when they’re not here.
You’re never far from nature in Franschhoek, surrounded by mountains, wine estates, farms and nature reserves. “It’s not uncommon to see porcupines crossing the road at night or otters swimming in a stream, snow on the mountains in winter, and snakes in the garden,” says Martine.
Being such a small village with hospitality its lifeblood, property is at a premium in Franschhoek. Larger historic houses are in demand as guesthouses, picturesque cottages in prime positions in the quiet back streets also have a hefty price tag.
On the fringes of the village, small upmarket developments and secure estates respond to demand from newer residents “semigrating” from elsewhere in SA, as well as swallows who want a lock-up-and-go perch for the summer months. Farms and smallholdings sometimes come on the market too, set up as guest farms, or planted with vines, fruit trees and olives, either commercially or as a lifestyle choice, often with mountain streams providing water.
Bridge House is a top choice for many of the families moving here for an excellent private education. Just down the valley outside the village, it also attracts students from Paarl, Stellenbosch and further afield. Franschhoek High is a dual-medium Model C school that’s one of the oldest in the country, serving the community since 1850. Otherwise families commute to Paarl or Stellenbosch for a wider choice of public and private schools.
Hiking and walking in the mountains is a favourite leisure activity, the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and its several hiking trails being a popular spot for easy walks and all-day hikes with spectacular views over Franschhoek Valley, fynbos and abundant birdlife. La Motte wine estate has a circular 5km trail from their tasting room, taking in mountain paths, vines and fynbos. There’s horse-riding, mountainbiking, tennis and bowling clubs, even a health club and gym.
Wine tasting is one of the delights of Franschhoek for locals, exploring the wine estates at a leisurely pace throughout the year. Winter is also the time for year-round residents to enjoy their pick of the winter specials at Franschhoek’s legendary gourmet restaurants.
Apart from the smart art galleries and boutiques, everyday shopping is what you’d expect from a rural village: a small Pick n Pay, a Woolies Food, Clicks and Pep, otherwise it’s 20 minutes to Paarl Mall for the rest. “The lack of shopping malls and lots of shops is actually a big plus about living here,” adds Martine.
Escaping the city is the attraction, the friendly community and enough visitors to keep things lively, but life in Franschhoek finds its rhythm in nature and the passage of the seasons. Marie-Louise says, “I love autumn, the leaves turning the most beautiful hues of brown, yellow and red – the most amazing sunsets, fires crackling and bottles of red wine being consumed.”
I love everything about living in Franschhoek! The community, the vibe, the breathtaking beauty, no traffic, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It’s a small town but very sophisticated, very cosmopolitan. Top chefs, wineries, venues, festivals, galleries – there’s always something going on. MARTINE BAUER, RESIDENT
iGrow Wealth Investments | 021 979 2501
The relentless demand for high-end property investments in the Cape winelands has seen some of the world’s most iconic entrepreneurs, like British-born Sir Richard Branson, Analjit Singh of India, and the Rupert Family, invest in the Franschhoek Valley region. The economy of this world-renowned wine-producing town has, to a large extent, been driven by national and international demand for properties that yield the highest investment return. Franschhoek is one of the areas in South Africa with the highest growth in dollar millionaires in the past 10 years, and we have seen significant five-year growth of up to 149%.
Seeff Franschhoek | 021 876 4592
Franschhoek is a wonderful cosmopolitan village to live in – steeped in history, surrounded by mountains, and with a vibrant and bustling main road, award-winning restaurants and incredible wine estates. We have an excellent private school at the entrance to town catering to children of all school ages and there are many wonderful outdoor activities to enjoy, like hiking, mountain biking, golf, and horse riding, and Cape Town is only an hour away. Franschhoek offers an array of splendid properties, from one-bedroom flats to opulent mansions, so really something for everyone. The rental market is strong, demand for rentals is high, and property prices have continued to rise over the last few years.
- Franschhoek Manor: five-star boutique guesthouse
- Leeu House: luxury hotel in historic house on the main street
- La Petite Ferme: boutique hotel on a wine and fruit farm
- Akademie Street Boutique Hotel: vintage style and warm hospitality
- La Residence: next-level luxury among the vineyards
- The Ivy: comfortable self-catering apartments in the village
- L’Ermitage Chateau & Villas: exclusive country village
- La Petite Colombe
- Le Coin Francais
- Chefs Warehouse at Maison
- Pierneef at La Motte
- Bistro Bonbon
- Leopards Leap
- Franschhoek Beer Company
- Hey Joe
- French Connection
- Big Dog Café
- Franschhoek Literary Festival: May
- Franschhoek Bastille Festival: July
- Franschhoek Uncorked: September
- Franschhoek Cap Classique: Nov/Dec