The town itself is small and is known as the epicurean centre of SA. Some of the very best restaurants in SA are located in this pretty, tiny village that nestles in the valley at the foot of three mountain ranges. The most popular of the restaurants are Le Quartier Françoise, Reuben’s and Le Pettit Ferme. All three are listed in the top 10 SA restaurants almost every year.
The antique shops down the main road are big attractions to lots of visitors and then all the wine estates nearby add to the relaxed and slow pace of the holiday venue.
Near Fransch Hoek, on the way to Paarl, is Drakenstein Prison (When Nelson Mandela walked to freedom from there it was still called Victor Vester Prison) Do go there and read the inscription on the statue (from his first speech as a free man ) it is a compulsory stop for me when taking tourists to that region.
When you go into Paarl you will travel down the longest main street in SA. It is 9 kls long. It is famous for its old churches and the beginning of Afrikaans as a language. Do pop into the museum just to learn a bit about that.
Don’t forget to go into KWV. It is everything from a museum to a gallery to a business emporium to do with wine. It is on the main road and cannot be missed.
Paarl also has the unique one of a kind anywhere in the world, language monument which is worth a visit. It sticks up like a finger pointing into the sky from Paarl rock. Just outside of the town and probably worth a visit if you can spare the time.
The two wine estates that I enjoy in this area are Fairview (they also make wonderful cheeses and offer cheese-tastings with their wine tastings. Next door farm has a chocolate and wine tasting but I have forgotten what it is called.
The other estate that I often visit is Backsberg.
It has a very relaxed atmosphere, wonderful wines and a good unpretentious restaurant where I frequently enjoy a sandwich or such under the trees in the area in front of the restaurant. It is quite balmy there.
The San and Khoi moved freely in the area prior to the first VOC scouts entering this terrain. The territory was under the oversight of the Gorachouqua kraal at Klapmutsburg and the Gorachouqua and their territory fell under the direction of the Goringhaiqua who were answerable to the Chainoqua regional chieftainship. The Chainoqua governed the entire Cape territory of European settlement, on behalf of the Hamcumqua King who in turn respected the paramount status of the Chobona. The Chainouqua and Hamcumqua shared camps and practiced intermarriage with the amaXhosa and the Chobona were a mixed Khoi-Xhosa people and Xhosa polity.
While the new settlers were to see the Khoi first as troublesome pests and later as vital labourers whom they enserfed through a slave-type indentured labour system, the Khoi saw the settlers as their guests who ought to be showing them respect. Later the amaXhosa who were a mixed Nguni-Khoisan people, also expected the settler descendants to show respect to their traditional authority. The term Xhosa was a Khoisan name given to the original tiny Nguni southern clan into which many Khoi and San people had assimilated through royal marriages. Under King Tshawe and following his reign, the original small Nguni clan grew into a confederacy of different tribes and clans to become the modern amaXhosa national group. Over 500 years from 1500 this group developed from the initial coming together of Nguni, Khoi and San, to also incorporate Griquas, European and Asian Slaves marooned through shipwrecks, and droster slaves from the Cape Colony who sought refuge. During the latter years hundred years war amaXhosa would have first found their way into the Franschhoek district in significant numbers.
From their perspective the settlers and their descendants considered the land of the Drakenstein to be unpopulated and free for the taking. They could not understand the indigene people whom they considered to be inferior. What existed was a very loose African confederal polity within a plural monarchy that was very different to what the Europeans had in Europe. It was also not protected by a mobile military force of any sort. The settlers just could not get their heads around these loose African systems. The conflicting perspectives of the indigenes and the European settlers and their descendents have continued without resolution for over 350 years.
Simon van der Stel the ‘Eurasian’ Governor who came from Mauritius
Simon van der Stel, arguably the first coloured (Eurasian) Governor of the Cape, was a farming development visionary who simply from a position of strength declared the territory he named as the Drakenstein, to be a VOC possession to be exploited for agricultural purposes. The VOC had largely broken Khoi resistance in the district while mobile armed commandos kept the "troublesome" San hunter groups in check. Van der Stel named the area Groot Drakenstein after visting VOC Commissioner Hendrik van Rheede tot Drakenstein. The area between what became Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, acquired the name Jan de Jonkershoek, so named after combining the name and nickname of two pioneering farmers in the area. One was the Free Black farmer, Jan van Saloor, also known as Jan Lui (Lazy Jan) and the other farmer was Johan Andriesz nicknamed the bachelor (de Jonker).
More on the tour........
Some info on Franschhoek Chocolate.