5 reasons to travel to Franschhoek

When my family and I first went on holiday to the Kruger National Park, my mom said something to me that has stuck with me ever since.

She said that before she even thinks of going overseas, she'd love nothing better than to be a tourist in her own country.

I was reminded of this when I found myself attending the 2013 Franschhoek Literary Festival this year.

You see, so many of us dream of being able to travel internationally; to visit gorgeous and exotic locales where we can live it up like we've been starved of beauty for far too long.

I'm certainly not saying that we shouldn't travel abroad, I just think that so many of us (myself included) spend so much time wishing we could afford the trip overseas that we forget  about the spectacular local scenery  all around us.  

And Franschhoek just so happens to be one of them.  

Not only is this little town a picturesque wonder to behold, it's also home to the annual Literary Festival that sees many an author and bibliophile (I was fortunate to attend it with authors Cat Hellisen and Sally Partridge this year) congregating for a weekend  filled with good books, wine, panel discussions and author events.

If you haven't been to this charming place yet, here are a few good reasons why you should make a road trip out of it.

1. It's not just about the destination.

 It's about the places you find on your way to the scenic little town.  

When I travelled with the lovely  Cat and Sally, we were fortunate enough to find accommodation at the Knorhoek Country Guesthouse.

(Pic credit: Cat Hellisen)

Nestled between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts, this gorgeous little guesthouse has a southern and rustic charm that quickly makes itself known as the perfect place for a weekend retreat. We were met with a very warm welcome from Carol and spent the rest of the weekend being spoilt by the tranquillity and lush beauty surrounding us.

It's about a good 25 - 30 minutes drive to Franschhoek, but if you're unable to find accommodation any closer, then this is one of the most affordable options you can opt for.

2. Wine tasting

Because you can't drive past this side of the world without passing a good number of wine farms, most (if not all) of which offer wine tasting sessions and tours. They're also relatively affordable and have some of the finest and top of the range wines on offer.

(Pic credit: Cat Hellisen)

Whether you're a wine connoisseur or not, you're guaranteed to find something suited to your taste; and as a lover of white wine, I can highly recommend some of the Chenin Blancs found in this part of the world.  

Make sure you don't leave without at least making a pit stop.

3. The fabulous market

If you're only planning on visiting Franschhoek for the day, then make sure that the day you choose is Saturday.

While waiting to attend our next author panel (the marvellous thing about the Literary festival, is that it often takes place over the weekend and, as such, coincides with the market that takes place), we found ourselves browsing through some of the most delightful (and more often than not, handmade) things.

From beads and jewellery, to artisan crafts and hot, spicy and exotic foods, and home-baked goodies, the Franschhoek Market is a little piece of local heaven that everyone should experience.  Make sure you keep a lot of cash at hand - you're going to want to buy ALL THE THINGS.

4. Fabulous foodie places

There are some phenomenal places where you can go out and grab a bite.

From Reuben's (if you're not familiar with this restaurant, then shame on you), to places where they make the best pancakes and ice-cream, you are more than spoilt for choice.

5.  The Literary festival

And finally, if all of the above-mentioned reasons aren't enough, there's the annual Franschhoek Literary Festival.  With an impressive selection of writing workshops, local and international author panel discussions and author meet-and-greet sessions aplenty, you'll never be able to say you're suffering from a serious case of boredom.

This year saw a phenomenal selection of authors at the event, including the likes of Lauren Beukes, SL Grey (Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg), Cat Hellisen, Sally Partrige, Amanda Coetzee and Paige Nick, to mention but a few.

I was always under the impression that the Lit festival was one dreary and drab affair where political and literary books made up the entire programme, but I'm happy to say that I couldn't have been more wrong.

There's a vibrant new energy in local fiction that's always been hovering under the surface, but is now steadily beginning to emerge.

We'll be featuring and spotlighting a number of them over the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned and check back to our books hub.

One thing is for certain - Franschhoek is a place that has so much to offer. Do yourselves a favour and go check it out. You won't be sorry.

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