13 July 2017

Foraging and Foliage in Franschhoek

Franschhoek in the winter time is simply magical. The light is soft; the air is crisp, and the scenery is verdant.

What’s more, because this pretty, popular little Cape winelands village is quieter now than in summer time, you feel as though you have it all to yourself. Which we just-about-did for a weekend of total spoils.

This time we stayed at the newly refurbished self catering La Cotte Farm Forest Cottages which offer exceptional value and a perfect base for exploring the region. I’m the biggest critic when it comes to hospitality; and I have to say, very few places can pull off the rustic farmhouse cottage concept like La Cotte can. Comfy beds, large indoor and outdoor fireplaces and everything that is needed for a home away from home experience.

Located in the rolling hills of The Cape’s lush wine region, this working farm captivates all the senses. Granted to its original owner in 1694, La Cotte Farm is one of the oldest estates in the region. The colonial flair of the cottages and manor house offer privacy to guests, surrounded by sweeping lawns with central pool and panoramic views of the mountains. The gabled facades, French sash windows and the lime-washed walls produce a tale of farmhouse elegance.

Our first for activity, en-route to Franschhoek, was a morning of mushroom foraging and feasting at Delheim Estate in Stellenbosch. Kicking off with a warm glass of gluhwein and an informative talk about locally found mushrooms, followed by the forage in their forest and a mushroom-infused four-course lunch paired with wines in their Garden Restaurant. It was the perfect start to our weekend - we were each given a bottle of wine as a farewell gift which we lapped up on our first night.

Next Babylonstoren beckoned, where we popped in to see the gardens and grab goodies for our home-made charcuterie and cheese board dinner. Boasting one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape and known for its magnificent eight acre gardens filled with everything organic, from fruit, vegetables and berries; to bees, fragrant plants, ducks and chickens.

We breakfasted at The Big Dog Café on the outskirts of the Franschhoek village. They embody a passion for the craft of coffee, and in fact I’d go so far as to say Terbodore Coffee Roasters is the best coffee in the village.

Once we’d had our caffeine fix we set off for three bubble tastings at La Motte, Leopards Leap and Rickety Bridge wine farms, respectively. There is nothing quite like enjoying a few glasses of fizz with your best mates on a winters day.

Feeling very relaxed we teetered into the Leeu Estate Spa where we spoilt ourselves with a steam followed by a 90 minute massage and then a quick post spa glass of vino at their hotel. Set among the vineyards, Leeu Estate & Spa is without doubt one of the finest destinations in Franschhoek.

We then popped in for pre-dinner drinks at the Tuk Tuk Bar - Franschhoek’s edgy Microbrewery - a must do for craft beer fans. To end off the day, we dined at Foliage - a foraging-friendly Franschhoek restaurant rated by many as one of the top restaurants in South Africa; and we vehemently agree.

On our last morning, we enjoyed a brisk hike to a view point in Mont Rochelle's Nature Reserve and ended off with a casual lunch at the farm cafe at Boschendal.

Normally it takes me a few days to switch from the daily grind; and even though our weekend was busy, I managed off all my tension and ease myself into a mellow wintry mood.

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