Franschhoek is a village located in the South African province of Western Cape, about 75 kilometers away from Cape Town and is one of the oldest places in South Africa.

The village was originally called Olifantshoek because of the many elephants that lived here in the valley. In 1688, 176 French Huguenots came to live here, who first fled from Catholic France to the Netherlands after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In the Netherlands there was freedom of religion and so they entered service with the VOC and sailed to the Dutch Cape Colony. The Huguenots were spread throughout the Cape Colony by the VOC policy, but a concentration area nevertheless arises at Olifantshoek.

The settlers at the Cape therefore soon began to call the neighborhood “Fransche Kwartier” or “Fransche Hoek” and in the 18th century the village’s name officially became “Franschen Hoek”, later simplified to Franschhoek. In spite of the large number of Huguenots, the French speakers fused fairly quickly with the other settlers and in 1829, when the Cape fell into British hands, French was already completely extinct and replaced by Cape Dutch, later African.

Today there is quite a lot left over from the Huguenot period. Not only the family names, but also the names of many wine estates, such as La Motte, La Cotte, Cabrière, Provence, Chamonix, Bien Donné, Champagne, Dieu Donné and Le Dauphiné. Bien Donné is today an important agricultural research station.
There are many important vineyards in Franschhoek and several of South Africa’s best restaurants are located in the village. The village and the flowery surroundings are a tourist attraction and are often visited together with Stellenbosch from the Cape Town metropolis.

Click here for a video of Franschhoek

A nice way to get to know Franschhoek better is with the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
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