The Pride of Africa
By Sukie Chapman
10 February 2015
All great rail holidays must feature elements of luxury, refinement and tradition. The Pride of Africa has all of this and more.Read more
Sitting in its own valley, the town of Stellenbosch is the second oldest settlement in South Africa, after Cape Town. Known also as the 'City of Oaks', due to the large number of oak trees planted by the town's founder, Simon van der Stel, Stellenbosch is surrounded by spectacular mountains. The hilly region and warm climate of the Cape Winelands makes ideal wine-producing conditions, which has given rise to a large number of vineyards that cover the valley that surrounds Stellenbosch.
The magnificent Franschhoek Valley nestles between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape winelands. Spectacular vineyards cover the mountain slopes, which were settled more than 300 years ago by the 'Huguenots', who brought with them their age-old French wine and food culture.
After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France in 1685, when Protestantism was outlawed, hundreds of Huguenots fled their homeland, 277 of them arriving by ship at the Cape of Good Hope. Many of them were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Oliphantshoek (Elephant's Corner) - so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. Soon after they settled here, it became known as Franschhoek (French Corner).
This heritage lives on today with the Huguenot Monument (also known as 'Franschhoek Monument', standing proudly at the top of the village. The museum nearby chronicles the history of those brave pioneers, with each of the original Huguenot farms having its own fascinating story to tell. Driving into Franschhoek you will notice that most of the farms still bear their original French names and are usually complete with a spectacular Cape Dutch homestead, towering oaks and luscious vineyards.