Some things to do and places to take children while in Franschhoek.
Huguenot Fine Chocolates (on the right side of the main street, near the corner of Kruger Street). A ½ hour chocolate tour for small groups: the history of chocolate, a demo of chocolate-making, tasting and a small gift, all for R40 pp. Book in advance – or just give the shop 15 minutes’ warning. Tel: 021 876 4096.
If you’re lucky, usually on summer weekends, there’ll be a cricket match at the Groot Drakenstein Games Club (on the left after the Stellenbosch and Solms Delta turn-offs). This is the first-laid turf cricket pitch in South Africa. Visitors welcome. Tel: 021 874 1906 – only answered when the manager is there.
There is a 7 kilometre off-road tarred path running from De Villiers Street (opposite Franschhoek Cellars as you drive into the village) to the Wemmershoek/Berg River Dam crossroads, though bikers need to give priority to pedestrians (a bicycle bell gives a useful warning). The village side streets are also fairly quiet.
Franschhoek Cycles for cycle hire. Tel: 021 876 4956. Tayne Ruddock (a qualified guide) offers guided half-day bike tours in association with Franschhoek Cycles, either combining Franschhoek scenery via little-used roads with a wine tasting and a picnic lunch, or to suit individual groups. Tel: 073 495 6115.
The Babylonstoren garden is at the heart of the Babylonstoren farm. It was inspired by the Company Gardens of the Cape, where for centuries ships would replenish with sweet water, vegetables and fruit at the halfway station between Europe and Asia. It also hales back to the mythical garden of Babylon. Every one of over 300 varieties of plants in the garden is edible and fruit and veg are harvested year round for use in their restaurant. Join their daily garden tour at 10am each day. Bookings essential via email@example.com or + 27 (0) 21 863 3852.
The Babylonstoren Farm Hotel also has a babysitting service available for overnight guests, allowing parents to enjoy dinner at Babel Restaurant. Enquire about this service when you make a booking. Bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org or + 27 (0) 21 863 3852.
Paradise Stables (turn right at the Monument, take the right fork). Cost: R600 p/p for Wine Tasting on horseback OR R200 p/p for a scenic tour. Outrides for experienced riders from 12 upwards. Please pay cash only! Tel: 021 876 2160.
Lekkerwijn Country House
Lekkerwijn is a child-friendly accommodation establishment located in the Franschhoek valley. They have a qualified nanny that can look after kids and they can also host kiddies’ parties on request. There is also a children’s playroom, swings, a pool and petting animals. Tel: 021 874 1122
Drive past La Ferme (directions under Fishing) towards Paarl to see the fine statue of Nelson Mandela at the entrance to the Groot Drakenstein (formerly Victor Verster) Correctional Facility, where he walked out of prison after 27 years, a landmark in our country’s history and a potent symbol of freedom.
The Screening Room at Le Quartier Francais shows movies from Wednesday to Sunday – a special experience in comfortable leather seats with a glass of wine or a cool drink and snacks for sale. Tel: 021 876 2151 for a schedule and times. Kids’ movies for groups of 10 and upwards with adult supervision (for example, on a Monday, Tuesday or particular afternoon) can be arranged in advance.
Huguenot Memorial Museum (drive through the village and turn left at the Monument; the Museum is on both sides of Lambrechts Street). Well displayed Huguenot history, furniture, social details of early farm life in Franschhoek. Open 9 to 5, 2 to 5 on Sundays. R10 pp, R5 for kids. Tel: 021 876 2532.
Motor Museum at L’Ormarins (on the right a couple of kilometres after the Stellenbosch turn-off – there’ll be a veteran car parked at the gate). Another heaven for men and boys, and a treat for the nostalgic. Open 10 – 5 Tuesdays to Fridays, 10 – 4 at weekends. R60 pp, R50 for senior citizens and motor club members, R30 for kids between 3 & 12. Tel: 021 874 9065.
Museum van de Caab (on the Solms Delta wine estate, on the left shortly after the Stellenbosch turn-off). A small museum highlighting valley history from the Stone Age, the slave history of the farm, recordings of San people talking and singing, ceramic artefacts. Open 9 to 5 Sundays and Mondays, 9 to 7 Tuesdays to Saturdays over the festive season. Entrance free. Tel: 021 874 3937.
Allée Bleue (opposite the Stellenbosch turn-off). Picnics on a lawn with a jungle gym, wooden tables and chairs or a picnic blanket. R299 for two, R55 for kids. Tel 021 874 1021.
Boschendal – During the summer months Boschendal’s Le Pique-Nique provides the ideal setting for simple French-Style country meals. Picnic hampers filled with simple country fare are served from a gazebo, relax and enjoy the fare at tables and chairs set in the shade of fragrant pine trees. Baskets to be collected between 12:15 & 13:30. They may be collected later – by arrangement. R165.00 per adult excluding beverages and service – baskets packed in servings of 2, 3, 4, and 5 each. R59.00 per child (under 10) excluding beverages and service. Bookings essential. 021 870 4272/3/4/5 / email@example.com
Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill – Picnics come in two styles, and each can be prepared for either 2 or 4 people. Kid’s baskets are available as well. The whole experience is a lovely way to experience a sunny afternoon. Advance booking is required. 021 874 3844 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Grande Provence – Adding to the many unique dining options at the award-winning Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek, Executive Chef Darren Badenhorst, has launched a French inspired picnic to enjoy this summer season from November 2013 until April 2014, 7 days a week, and weather dependent. Cost for the picnic for two guests is R420.00 and for the family picnic, two adults and two children, R630.00, which can be enjoyed under the oak tree, in the manicured gardens, alongside the Grande Provence vineyards. The set menu picnics includes a French baguette, artisanal brie, locally cured saucisson, homemade preserves and butter, a decadent chocolate brownie, all complemented by a bottle of the award-winning Grande Provence Estate wine and still or sparkling water. Picnic baskets are available only by booking 24 hours in advance. Tel: 021 876 8600 E: email@example.com
Holden Manz – Holden Manz, the magnificent boutique wine estate embraced by two rivers in the shadow of the Franschhoek mountains, offers spectacular river side picnics under stately oaks – one of the best kept secrets in the winelands. The picnics cost R160 per person (excl. wine and beverages) with a special children’s menu at R45 per child. The picnics are offered daily from Tuesdays till Sundays but booking is essential. Call Kobie at 021-8762729, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.holdenmanz.com. To reach Holden Manz, turn right at the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek and follow the signs for two kilometres.
Solms Delta wine estate (on the left shortly after the Stellenbosch turn-off). Walk through the vineyards to picnic among trees by the Dwars River. R145 pp, R75 for kids. Tel: 021 874 3937.
NB: If your kids have particular tastes, the chefs are generally willing to provide alternatives – e.g. chips instead of salads – so discuss their preferences when you order the picnic.
Restaurants with play facilities
Bread & Wine at Môreson (about halfway between the Berg River and the village: turn right into the Happy Valley road, drive straight on to Môreson). Kids can create their own pizzas at the table and have fun playing in the water feature stream with the boats and ducks on sale..
Col’Cacchio Pizzeria (on the right of the main street, just after the bend). Pizza and pasta on a veranda or benches under stately oak trees and a jungle gym. Tel: 021 876 4222.
Dieu Donné (turn left up Uitkyk Street opposite the Franschhoek Centre turn-off and drive right up the road, turning left at the top). The terrace below the restaurant overlooks a lawn with a sandpit and a glorious view of the valley, a kids’ menu, and beer brewed on the spot in a micro-brewery. Tel: 021 876 3384 or 3158.
La Petite Ferme (turn left at the Monument, drive up towards the Pass and it’s on the right). There’s a kids’ menu and a lawn area overlooked by a glassed-in terrace with a stunning view of vineyards and mountains, though you need to phone in advance as the terrace is often booked out. Tel: 021 876 3016.
Tables at Backsberg has been recommended by several Franschhoek grandparents. Tel: 021 875 5141.
Val de Vie: Celebrating Family Sundays with Pongracz! Join us on the Polo Pavilion Terraces for Fresh Organic Home-baked Breads, delicious foods and creative goods, LIVE music and a game of polo. Loads of Kiddies Entertainment so bring the little ones along for a fun Sunday! OPEN 10am to 3pm. See website for details / 021 863 6100
Tourism Info in the Village Centre (on the main street opposite the NG Church. Tel: 021 876 3603) has two useful pamphlets:
The Village Heritage Walk. A self-guided stroll into Franschhoek’s past.
Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve Day Hiking Trails. Details and a map of walks and trails through fynbos and into the mountains, ranging from short and easy to a strenuous day trail. All of them start at the main gate at the top of the Franschhoek Pass and the views are unsurpassed. You’ll need a permit – obtainable at Info, the Protea Hotel or the Huguenot Museum – costing R20 pp.
Guided walks. Retired professor Izak Rust is a registered field guide with a lifetime’s experience of nature guiding, a wonderful raconteur with a deep knowledge of the valley, its geology, flora, fauna, history and secret places. He takes groups of up to 12 on village and vineyard walks and up to 8 on mountain walks and hikes in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, charging for the walk rather than per person. Highly recommended for older kids and teens with a passion for nature and mountains. For prices and details, email email@example.com or tel 021 876 2659 or 072 712 7784.
The beautiful new La Motte complex of restaurant, art museum, winetasting room and classical music concert hall (on the left after the Wemmershoek/Berg River dam crossroads) will soon open a 5.6 kilometre hiking trail through the fynbos along a scenic mountain route. Picnics for along the way can be sourced from a new deli, the Plaaswinkel. This wine farm works hard on biodiversity and if the kids are interested in indigenous flowers, you can do a disa tour in season through the greenhouses. Tel: 021 876 8000.
Walking round the dams in the Franschhoek valley is restricted – walkers are only allowed as far as the Wemmershoek Dam wall with a permit, and parts of the new Berg River Dam are fenced off though you can view it from above the dam wall (turn right at the Wemmershoek/Berg River Dam crossroads). Determined walkers can drive out on the Dassenberg road (turn right at the Monument, take the right fork, continue to the locked gate) and park there while you walk on, though it’s a long way on the flat before you reach the mountain paths. Looking ahead, there are plans for extensive leisure use of the Berg River Dam – walking and cycling trails, sailing and canoeing – though these will take time to develop.
NB: On long walks, don’t forget sturdy walking shoes, hats, sun block and day packs with plenty of water, trail snacks, a cellphone and protective clothing – the weather in the mountains can change in a flash from sizzling to freezing. Youngsters up to 18 must be accompanied by adults.
Baboons: leave the area if you hear or see them, specially if you have a dog with you. They sometimes snatch food and males and nursing mothers can be dangerous.
Fire: never make a fire except at clearly designated braai areas.
Snakes: there are two dangerous species in the valley, Cape cobras and puffadders, though they are only aggressive when startled or threatened. Stand still if you see one until it slides away. Do not go anywhere near a puffadder which doesn’t move.
Sunstroke: if someone’s temperature rises suddenly, call or send for help, protect them from the sun, loosen clothing, sponge them down and give sips of water.
Ticks: inspect socks, trousers, legs and any clothing that may have brushed the vegetation for small ticks at the end of your walk and brush them off.
EMERGENCIES: Call Franschhoek’s parameds at Medicare EMR: 074 363 7744 or 021 876 4316
*Text by Jenny Hobbs