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As the name suggests, this lovely country town has not a little of the French about it. It was here that the Huguenots, who fled to South Africa to escape religious persecution in France in the late 17th Century, settled. But French is no longer spoken in this little Gallic corner of Africa, and the Huguenots became so integrated with the local communities that many contemporary South Africans consider names like Marais, du Toit and Joubert to be Afrikaans names. However, the French influence is still very much around and, in July, the town celebrates Bastille Day with a fervour matched only in Paris – if at all. The wine is superb, with about twenty wineries all vying with each other to make the very best, and there are dozens of excellent eateries, ranging from casual and fun to very smart.

For the more adventurous, there are some wonderful paragliding launch sites just above the town, and some fantastic mountain bike trails in the nearby pine plantations. Franschhoek is about 22km from Stellenbosch and is reached by following the R310 and then the R45. The roads here are a good network, offering many choices of route but the R45 continues through Franschhoek to rejoin the N2, passing through some lovely towns on the way. Franschhoek is just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

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