This past weekend we were in Franschhoek as you’ll see from the snaps below – it was so difficult to trim them down to these favourites!
If you’re heading that way, we definitely recommend stopping in at the Wijnland Auto Museum and Butterfly World, and explore the lovely lemony Franschhoek Country House (FCH) and Monneaux…
Wednesday, 16 May 2018: Sunset dins at Doodles on the beachfront
We had a sneaky mid-week dinner out at Doodles and were in awe at the sunset, as seen from various angles.
Friday, 18 May 2018: Meltwater #BizBreakfast at Park Inn Radisson
I rarely get to attend events with colleagues, so it was a treat to spend part of last Friday morning with one of my favourite coworkers. Once we’d gone up 10 floors by lift at the Park Inn Radisson we stepped onto the balcony to admire the view, and what a view it was!
More of the balcony views, also the delicious breakfast snacks and the excellent presentation itself on social storytelling – click here for my full overview if you missed it on Bizcommunity.
We had time for a quick post-event catch-up session with industry friends before heading back to the office.
Saturday, 19 May 2018: Stop at Wijnland Auto Museum, stay at Franschhoek Country House, dine at Monneaux
A sweet moment with Bertie boy before we started all our weekend activities. Love that dog!
First stop – collect parents to drop off at the airport. Once they’d checked in for their flight to Joburg, we had time for a quick breakfast at the Wimpy with views of the runway. See various coffees and the flapjacks with cream and fruit salad.
Next, tim for our weekend away, and what’s a road trip without snacks? It was a cold, grey day so hot drinks were in order. This is a mochaccino and British ‘chocky bickies’ from when we dropped off the doglets at their GrannyGrampa for the night.
We stopped in at the Wijnland Auto Museum (not the main Franschhoek Motor museum you’re thinking of). It’s filled with rusted relics and shiny new vehicles alike. Bonus: You don’t need to make an appointment ahead of time!
The grounded airplane was the main attraction for Husband – he’d seen it from the main road outside and we had to do a capital U-turn to go back and find the entrance. See how he climbed all the way through into the cockpit – you’re allowed to do so.
Autumnal scenes on the road into Franschhoek town.
You’re bound to see the wine tram when you’re in and around Franschhoek. We saw various versions of it in various locations on our way into town and even waved at the happy travelers from the pool later that evening. It’s still on our Franschhoek bucket list!
It was the weekend of the Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) so there were book-lovers around every drizzly corner and queues at all the eateries and markets, we felt quite lucky to be staying slightly out of the main hustle and bustle of town. Will tackle the FLF another time!
Franschhoek Country House holds all the lemons and French country charm you could ever want. It’s like a painting.
It’s hard to miss Franschhoek Country House from the Huguenot Main Road, just look for lemon with touches of turquoise and you’re there! There are lemons everywhere you look, from the trees to bowls in every room – even the restaurant powder room – it’s really a delicious sight.
The space we stayed in was just gorgeous. Look at those old-school high ceilings, the plentiful fruit bowl, and even the candlesticks next to the not-to-be-used bath tub.
The doorbell chimed and we were presented with the most wonderful welcome plate of food fresh from Monneaux, along with flutes of bubbly to ease into ‘weekend away’ mode. It certainly did the trick!
Fountains fountains everywhere. Note Husband examining them far off in the distance.
Despite the chill in the air we braved the cold pool, as that makes the slightly heated pool seem a little warmer than it is. Also see the poolside table with the most delicious lemonade, garnished with mint leaves and cucumber slices. So yum!
We’d been told it was ‘happy hour’ on selected beverages until 5pm – add in pretzels and salty peanuts, also the Royal Wedding on TV and we were there like bears.
Sunset over the mountain from various angles, made even more delicious with a cup of coffee and rusk from our room.
M is for Monneaux! The on-site restaurant is definitely worth a visit, whether you’re staying at Franschhoek Country House or further up the road. See here the baked camembert salad, the spicy mussels and the lamb on gnocchi. All the words coming to my full review on Bizcommunity!
Cheers to dinner at Monneaux! Our table was strewn with white rose petals – we’d seen them being plucked while enjoying our swim earlier that evening. Also see the smoked octopus in dashi stock from the Petit Assiette menu, and the linefish mains topped with a prawn.
Don’t mind if I do take a sip or two… just some of the lovely wines we sampled while dining at Monneaux, all from the Franschhoek valley.
Dessert! See the sorbets with meringue discs; chef’s creme caramel with flecks of vanilla; a delicious cappuccino; the apple tart tatin with blue cheese compote; and the end-of-meal dense chocolate truffles.
The little nighttime luxuries at Franschhoek Country House are so sweet. These range from the ‘I need some me time’ message on the door hanger to a tiny chocolate left on the pillow with the next day’s weather forecast; and slippers left at the turned-down bed. Of course, we also lit the fire and spent a while in front of its warmth – though there’s also underfloor heating, so you may well find yourself sitting on the floor (out of choice)!
This is the selection of ‘gownie shots’ I have to work with. Not easy to come by as gowns are only available by special request from reception, and by the time we took the snaps Husband was done with posing nicely and smiling on demand. Lol!
Sunday, 20 May 2018: FCH breakfast buffet; visit the animals at Butterfly World
Taking in that ‘just been rained on’ view with a quick coffee brewed in the room before heading down for breakfast.
What a breakfast spread! See various cold meats and cheeses, freshly cut fruits, yoghurts, and cereals – I couldn’t resist a scoop of the bright pink Strawberry Pops!
From the hot breakfast menu, we opted for filter coffee and the waffle with bananas, bacon and berries (me); and glasses of juice with the eggs benedict, topped with both spinach and folded ham (husband). Also, look at the tiny bite-size croissant!
Taking a slow stroll back to our room. Note Husband is in long pants and covered shoes during the day here, a rare sighting that tells you it was pretty darn chilly.
Once we’d checked out, we couldn’t resist this road that whispered, “Follow me…”
We made what we thought would be a quick detour to see the Butterfly World tropical garden, but there’s so much more than that on the grounds that we stayed a good two hours. See Husband enjoying a plate of curry and rice while it drizzled.
There’s lots of lush greenery and birdies flitting around along with the butterflies. Also, many interesting take-away trinkets to look at.
We braved the rain (there are clear umbrellas to collect before stepping outside) and you can just see the butterflies drying out.
While the butterflies were lovely, they flitted around so fast we couldn’t take any pics. There are so many sweet rescued animals all around though that before you realise it, you’ve spent hours wandering around in awe at nature.
Look at the little critters! Some were friendly, some were shy, all were precious. We have a video of the birdie scratching it’s way over Husband’s arm and then leaping scarily at my shiny phone.
That’s all, folks! Hope you have a relaxing weekend. Cheers!
*Disclaimer: Our meals and accommodation at Franschhoek Country House and Monneaux were part of our review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally.
This past weekend we had the opportunity to do a little pre-10th anniversary celebrating at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek. I narrowed down the hundreds of photos we took to the following few, and hope they give you the sense that this was one of our most relaxing, fun and luxurious weekends yet…
Saturday, 12 August 2017: Wine-tasting at Mullineux and Leeu, Tex-Mex dinner at Tuk-Tuk, Leeu House Madiba selfies
Destination: Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, just 80km from Cape Town. Temperature: Cool, drizzly and wintery. Expectation levels: All-time high.
It’s all warm smiles at Leeu Estates, and nothing is too big an ask for the staff. Every single member of the ‘Leeu pride’ was as pleasant and helpful as can be. So much so that I was presented with a cappuccino and we were taken on a quick refresher tour of the property before even reaching our room. We were almost tempted to spend all weekend in the cosy reading room with fully stocked bookshelf, board games, cheerfully blazing fire and inviting chess board.
This pool, perfectly reflecting the cloudy sky, must be just the thing in Summer. Imagine taking a quick dip then relaxing on a lounger while the sun licks away those water droplets.
We also stopped in at the technogym and rivalled the gym bunny sculptures in our activity. Well, not quite…
We barely had time to get acquainted with our amazing suite before it was time to be golf-carted up to the Mullineux and Leeu wine studio on the property for a wine tasting. It’s a warm, bright space with crackling fireplace and wall of glass that make a winter wine tasting all the more pleasurable, with excellent storytellers to explain the origins of each varietal, and when we examined our room a little more closely we noticed two dinky bottles of wine waiting to welcome us – cheers!
The art-loving Leeu Collection’s Mr Singh’s presence is strong in the wine studio too, with this impressive giraffe at the entry as recently added as a week before our visit. I dare you not to take a height-comparison photo next to it, like we did.
Husband in his wine-tasting element.
Winter is a wonderful year to visit the Cape winelands. Just look at the way the grey sky brings out the rich greens of those very well trimmed hedges on the walk back to Leeu Estates through the Bokkie Garden.
Sentried rows of lovely greenery in the bokkie garden between the main Manor House and the Mullineux and Leeu Wine Studio.
This sculpture is titled ‘Reflective Resonance’. Husband couldn’t resist kicking off his shoes and mimicking the pose.
Clouds. Mountains. Lavender. Breath-taking.
We made the most of our stay by changing into swim gear and then braving the icy temperature to leap into the steam room, and once suitably heated up made a swift dash into the very slightly heated pool with view out towards the Franschhoek Mountains. Refreshing, to say the least!
It’s only when I took the plunge (literally) and fully immersed myself in the pool that I noticed the rainbow right outside.
I love a room with a view, but a bath with a view? That’s the ultimate. We’ll have to return once the water restrictions have lifted to actually have a soak in that tub and sigh over the view.
Husband did try out the shower though, and had a wonderful gown-whisky-balcony moment in the break between swimming and dins.
One of the best balconies we’ve had the pleasure of relaxing from. Just look at that view!
We enjoyed that outside view so much that we barely snapped any pics of the inside of our suite, alas. See the bed and lounge on top, and the main lounge below where we spent a few minutes before dinner time.
Before we knew it, the complimentary Leeu Collection shuttle was ready to take us 2km into Franschhoek town for dinner at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery. It was well-lit, warm and completely buzzing when we got there at 7pm, so we were pleasantly surprised that service was super speedy.
Instead of the standard wine tasting you can do a beer tasting at the Microbrewery, either of CBC’s brews (my bru) or of Tuk Tuk’s own brand of ales. Food-wise, everything is tasty Tex-Mex – note my impressively plated cheesy nachos with side of pulled beef, Husband’s manageable burger and fries and see how the photo of all the liquid on our table was photographed.
For dessert, the churros with rich, warmly dripping dipping sauce are a must.
We had time for a quick after-dark stroll down the street to pose at the Madiba statue at Leeu House and greet the scary rabbit we remembered from our previous stay at Le Quartier Francais before the shuttle arrived to ferry us back to Leeu Estates for the night
Back in our room, Husband took full advantage of the underfloor heating, was impressed by the remote-controlled fireplace, and took in the pretty lights from the balcony before I noticed the cleaning fairies had left us a pre-anniversary surprise of tasty bedtime treats that we savoured right away and a bottle of MCC (which we brought home to crack open on our real anniversary).
Sunday, 13 August 2017: Breakfast at Leeu Estates
We were dressed and down in the restaurant for breakfast by 8am, in time to watch the sun rise through the adjacent glassed-in Conservatory.
Breakfast the next morning was another delicious experience. Just look at the buffet spread, Husband’s masala omelette and my blueberry flapjacks, all lit by the morning sun once it popped its sleepy head over the mountains.
Other sculptures to look out for if you visit Leeu Estates. They add a delightfully quirky touch to the stay.
That’s all, folks! It was over in a flash, but the memories are something we will savour for a very long time. Keep your eyes peeled for my official review on Biz.
*Disclaimer: Our meals and accommodation at Leeu Estates and Tuk-Tuk Microbrewery were part of our review package. Click through for a reminder of our previous stays at Leeu Collection’s Le Quartier Francais and Leeu House.
What do you do if you’ve already reviewed a wonderful winter’s weekend getaway town, then get the opportunity to review different accommodation in the same town? Why, you post a second ‘What to do in…’ review, of course, and make sure you do everything new and fresh so that there’s no resemblance to the last time.
That’s just what we did this past weekend when we got to stay in Franschhoek for the second time in as many months.
Of course these pics taken on our cameras didn’t even do the landscape and history-steeped buildings justice.
Click here to click through the galleries I added in my official review, which includes eye-wateringly beautiful pics of Leeu House and The Conservatory restaurant’s food, owned by the Leeu Collection, as is Le Quartier Français, which we reviewed over our former Franschhoek stay. Click here for a reminder and scroll through our not-repeated fresh new Franschhoek highlights below…
Stop to sightsee (different sights) on the way in…
A paintbrush splatter of fluffy clouds above the peaks of Paarl.
Each time we travel out towards Paarl I mean to snap a pic of ‘the tree in the lake’ but each time I only remember my intention once we’ve whizzed past it. This time I planned ahead and got Husband in on the action, so he warned me when we were getting close (I had my phone ready in camera-mode from just after the ‘Winelands 1-stop’). And yay, success. Here is the ‘tree in the lake’. Isn’t it fascinating?
Something we missed entirely on our last trawl along Franschhoek’s main road was this ‘he must have not been there he’s so hard to miss’ teddy bear. I was not the only sightseer to stop and pose for a photo with him, promise.
Another arty Franschhoek sculpture we spotted for the first time was this steel pegasus. Husband beside him for size/height.
Churches make up some of the cultural richness of Franschhoek. We peered in at the first one we came across – there was just one little old lady was seated in the pew.
Teehee. Yes we took a few pics of me pretending to swing the church bell. Blame it on the meds!
Situated beside Franschhoek’s babbling stream, we couldn’t resist stopping at BICCCS for a quick shared snack, well aware that we’d be having an amazing dinner in a few hours. Here is Husband unwinding with a mini-draught under the trees…
I sat opposite him as the direct sunlight was making my eyes water – here’s my half of our shared toasted rotisserie-chicken with red pepper mayo.
Look at the gorgeous coffee set I found inside! T’was perhaps an ‘extra zero’ over what I would have felt comfortable paying, but a girl can dream…
Next, we made our way to the Huguenot Monument at the end of the road – already closed by the time we last visited, this time we had a few precious hours of daylight to explore. First stop was the museum, filled with interesting things but no photos allowed inside.
There was a tea room on site too, as well as lots of inviting benches to stop at and soak up that serene sunshine. Just before Husband took this photo, a little squirrel zoomed up the trunk of the tree behind me. For reals.
This ‘bicycle behind the bougainvillea’ was parked outside the entrance to the Monument. Was another R10 each to get in.
The Huguenot Monument from up close on the left and with me in the background on the right. There’s also a fascinating sundial on the grounds that actually showed the right time to the minute.
Sleep over at Leeu House and don’t miss the Conservatory’s delicious, non-conservative menu
Walkies done we were ready for a rest. This is the Leeu House lounge area – fire place to my left (unlit) and honesty bar behind me with all sorts of liquid loveliness. We didn’t sample any though as were both still on meds for our horrible head colds.
Two kiwi fruit, my note-filled iPad and a wonderful cuppa Nespresso in our room after we’d checked in was just what we needed to rest and recharge our slightly downtrodden batteries.
Delightful dinner! These pics show Husband’s salmony starter top left and steak atop a bed of carrot mash bottom left – among his top five meals ever. Also see my Italian sausage rigatoni mains and white coffee brulee dessert. Highly recommended!
Look at our Leeu House room, pictured from many angles here. Yes, there’s our ‘room review in bathrobes’ shot bottom left, as well as slippers and Scrabble in the top right – after an hour or so of playing, with Husband far in the lead, we decided to call it a night.
When we got up the next morning the sky was bright, the wind was light. By the time we’d finished breakfast little over an hour later you’d think we’d walked out the wrong scene door as the sky was dismal and grey.
Conservatory roof, exposing still-glorious sunshine.
The Conservatory breakfast menu – exclusive to Leeu House guests – you start off with anything that tickles your fancy from the breakfast buffet listed on the left, then choose a ‘hot plate’ from the page on the right. Very tricky as so many of the options are slightly unusual and all certainly a good choice – plus note the shots of carroty-ginger juice and lemony water all served as soon as we were seated.
T’was a brilliant breakfast buffet, with lots of local produce and typically French-tasting pastries.
I eventually decided on the duck’s egg benedict. Note how the egg fits almost the entire English muffin slathered with slivers of local ham. I was not fussed by the fact that my Hollandaise sauce seemed scared to sit atop such an egg. I spooned it back on top and it was soon gone.
Look at that. The ultimate morning meal, Husband opted for the West Coast lobster open omelette. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
Don’t be fooled by Husband’s short-limbed outfit and the beautiful summery blues in this shot. An icy wind picking up and we hot-footed it (quite literally) back to the warmth of our room for a while after touching the chilly surface of the pool.
See? Just after we had checked out we stopped in Leeu House’s front garden to snap Husband with the Gandhi statue… sky now overcast and Husband had added long sleeves.
The regal lions guarding Leeu House’s entrance from Huguenot Road. Note how the raised paws are mirror images, great attention to detail.
Take the (other) long road home
Blankets of cloud started to lift on our way home again – we took a different route to our last Franschhoek exit, in order to keep the experience as different as possible.
How fitting that I managed to snap another ‘shouldn’t be submerged in water’ thing on our trip home! This time a windmill, in the middle of an entirely different lake. Husband was kind enough to stop the car for my photo-taking.
The weather in the Cape is very fickle, especially in winter. Near the Strand, the clouds had lifted and we passed lots of powdery soft dunes, some with wild lilies growing out of them.
That’s all, folks. We can’t recommend it enough. Thanks for stopping by, check in again next week for my next update. If you missed my overview of what to do in Wellington last month,
click here. 🙂
*Disclaimer: Obviously our accommodation at Leeu House and meals at the Conservatory were part of our review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally.