The last time we stayed in Franschhoek it was our wedding night, three years ago, so it only seemed right that we kick off our holidays as a family of three here and return with our five-month-old son.
A short drive away from our home in Cape Town, but just far enough to really get away, we prepared for a short stay at the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel. It wasn’t on a wine estate and didn’t have garden so we really had no idea what to expect.
But given that our son Caleb is still a baby, we didn’t really need room for him to run around just yet.
We happened to choose the coldest two nights in March. With temperatures down to 15 degrees Celius I was overjoyed to walk into a cosy, stylish lobby with a roaring fire and cabinets filled with trinkets and treasures from around the globe.
Despite our room not having a baby cot or any additional family bed, it was the perfect room to hunker down in-Beneath the covers of a King size bed with goldfish cushions, in front of an enclosed fireplace with the French Corner’s mountains outside the window. Whilst they don’t have any family rooms yet, the hotel is extremely kid-friendly and Caleb received bath toys and bubble bath on arrival.
We did just fine with Caleb sleeping in his carry cot but unless you’re booking two rooms, families with older kids would do well to seek another hotel such as the Lekkerwijn Country House with family rooms, qualified nanny, pool, swings and petting animals.
Given that we happened to be down with colds and hibernating from the chill, we didn’t wander too far or set off on any grand exploration of Franschhoek this time.
I loved that the hotel was right off Main Street and it took us about five steps to reach the boutiques, coffee shops and art galleries opposite the 1847 Dutch Reformed Church. When the rain paused, we set off in search of coffee shops and delis with lunchtime treats and browsed a few art galleries whilst Caleb slept in his carrier.
I imagine that many families steer clear of Franschhoek due to the fine dining restaurants and wine tasting appeal but I’ve discovered that this little wineland town offers quite a few options for those travelling with little people. Plus the coffee and decadent rooms of the Franschhoek Boutique hotel provide reason enough to return.
Tips for New families planning a short break:
- Just because it’s a short stay doesn’t mean you can pack lightly. We’ve learnt that with a baby comes an additional three bags filled with toys, toiletries and clothing ( make that at least two outfits a day if you’re lucky). We have never packed so much before.
- Pack for day and night taking all weather into account ( especially when it comes to your babies clothes). We planned for a lot more outdoor activities but the weather didn’t play along and even indoors mostly, we weren’t adequately prepared. Plus some towns experiences all four seasons in a day.
- You can no longer plan stops as you usually would. With a baby you’ll have to stop according to their schedule and of course if you’re about to run out of petrol.
- Don’t set too many plans for yourself. I’m sure you know that just trying to leave your room with a baby in tow will take ages, so plan for us and move slowly through the activities you’ve planned for yourselves.
A few Ideas for families visiting Franschhoek:
- Franschhoek Village Market - Every Saturday from 9-14:00pm, the Franschhoek Village Market takes place beneath the oak trees opposite the NG Kerk with everything from live music to food and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Cycling - Hire bicycles or join a qualified guide for half-day bike tours with or without a wine tasting and picnic lunch.
- Go wine tasting on horseback - this is doing the winelands a bit differently (R850pp) or for a scenic tour (R250pp) starting at Paradise Stables. Outrides for experienced riders only. Only children over 12 years of age.
- Blessing of the Harvest at MÔRESON WINE ESTATE or Grande Provence - This annual festival will get you and the family picking grapes and stomping them in barrels. Competitions and designing wine labels to look forward to.
Head to these family-friendly Wine estates:
- Franschhoek Cellar is a winery with a great playground, child minders and a great selection of wines.
- Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards is a family-friendly destination with a jungle gym, vast lawns for picnics, Sunday buffet and cooking classes.
- Holdenmanz - Come expectant of riverside picnics, special kiddies menu, chickens and a great running space for kids on the lawns. Indoors can you browse the portfolio of African contemporary art. Book picnics in advance.
- Allée Bleue - Another gem of an estate with a jungle gym, jumping castle, trampoline and picnic blankets for lunching. Visit on Sundays for live music.
- Babylonstoren Farm - Join the morning garden tours at 10am and marvel at over 300 varieties of plants which are all edible and used in the restaurant. Kids will love the feathery friends roaming the farm, when staying the night at the Babylonstoren farm hotel, a babysitting service is available so parents can enjoy a dinner at Babel Restaurant.
And for the Rainy Days... Kids movie days (for 10 or more) can be arranged in advance ( with adult supervision) at Le Quartier Francais’ screening room else check the schedule and times for Wednesday to Sunday.
Disclaimer: The Travel Manuel was hosted by Ford and Franschhoek Boutique hotel, as part of their monthly family road trip and globe trotting visits - visit www.thetravelmanuel.com