During our stay in Franschhoek we kept asking ourselves why people are streaming to Franschhoek to visit the town and the Valley. For us the French legacy and the beautiful environment have always been the outstanding features.
[divider]The fact is that Franschhoek and its Valley has become the hotspot in South Africa. For the traditionalists this is not necessarily a good thing. It is today a tourist village with streams of tour busses entering the town and groups of tourists following flag bearing tour guides to the spots of historic nature in the town. At the top of the town the Huguenot Monument remains the enduring symbol which ties the present to the past. The French Huguenot presence is still there, but these days only in the names of farms and restaurants or guest houses. The there is also the Victorian style houses and buildings, which signals that somewhere in the past the great colonial power of Great Britain also had an influence here.
The locals still celebrate Bastille Day every year, but that is not because they want to prove their French Heritage. No, it is just an event which brings tourists in and make more money for the local businesses. For us the town lost much of its charm and character and we fear for all that is still connected to its glorious past.
[divider]The biggest shock is perhaps the restaurant prices – with wine prices almost unaffordable for ordinary people. The food is ok – and there are now doubt famous restaurants which claim special culinary experiences. But, just how many ordinary South Africans can afford that.
The best advice one can give those who may be heading this way for a weekend is to find themselves one of the farm cottages – and to negotiate the best price possible. These cottages are mostly self-catering and if you bring your own sausage, tjops and other food, plus your own wine, you can in some sort of a way afford a weekend in this beautiful valley. The farms are beautiful and there are plenty of places to walk or drive to enjoy the landscape. In the town you can perhaps have breakfast or coffee. Keep away from the wine lists – or be prepared to pay between R200.00 of R450.00 a bottle. Someone said that if you go to one of the restaurants at a wine farm, you may just get as close as possible to what one can call cellar prices.
Franschhoek is beautiful, but then today it is probably too commercial and old timers will agree that it is not what it was.