On this weekend away Emily stayed at Residence Klein Oliphants Hoek and had a wonderful time relaxing and exploring the town of Franschhoek. Make sure to book a weekend away at Klein Oliphants Hoek.
According to Jane Austen, "there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." On a sunny summer weekend in January we decided to put this theory to the test. We set out late on a Friday evening after a rather harrowing week at work, in desperate need of rest and comfort. As we drove, the traffic began to dissipate and we found ourselves surrounded by oak trees and mountains. The stress from the week began to melt away as we travelled through the picturesque village of Franschhoek to our home for the weekend, Klein Oliphants Hoek.
We arrived just before sunset and were welcomed in to Klein Oliphants Hoek by Veronique, one of the friendly and thoughtful ladies who works in the manor house. We were instantly taken by the house as she showed us around. The rather opulent communal lounge was the first room we entered; it was furnished with lavish couches and a large fireplace surrounded by well-stocked book shelves. We toured through the kitchen, dining room and bar, all of which were elegantly vintage, and ended at the front garden. I was astounded by the beauty of the garden in the fading sunlight; it was a riot of lavender and roses, with tucked-away stone benches and arches of flowers. It completed my feeling of having been whisked away to a manor in one of Jane Austen's books.
Veronique took us to our room, a navy and white loft with a large bed and beautiful Persian carpets, and, after thoughtfully offering us a selection of DVDs to choose from for our night's entertainment, left us to our comfortable night's sleep.
On Saturday morning it was time to explore Franschhoek, but not on an empty stomach. We went to the lovely green kitchen in search of breakfast and found a delicious spread waiting for us; fruit, muesli and other cereals started us off, followed by a full English breakfast. We finished it off with muffins and some bits and pieces from the cheese and ham platter, all on the porch overlooking the garden of roses and lavender. We took the two minute walk to the centre of Franschhoek feeling thoroughly satisfied.
We soon found out that Franschhoek is very close to the ideal holiday destination. Franschhoek, originally known as Olifantshoek or Elephant's Corner because of the large elephant population that used to roam there, was first settled by a group of Huguenot refugees. From these humble beginnings it has grown into celebration of art, fine dining, chocolate and wine. We meandered between shops and art galleries until eventually we stumbled on the Franschhoek Saturday market. After tasting some of the local delicacies and giving in to the temptation to buy a few, it was time for lunch.
We picnicked in the secluded flower garden surrounding the Huguenot Museum. The museum itself is a stately building situated next to the Huguenot Monument, and we decided to find out more about the history of the Huguenots. In the museum, my husband read the information provided with great interest, while I stared in fascination at ancient Bibles brought to South Africa by the European refugees, beautiful antique furniture and model replicas of farms as they used to be in the area.
That was quite enough of history for me; we drove back up the street to the hotel and I indulged in an afternoon of pure relaxation. This involved an unintentional nap, hours of intermittent reading and swimming at the pool area, and finally a jog through the town of Franschhoek with spectacular mountain views.
For supper, we went to Café Franschhoek, previously known as Café Traumerei. The restaurants in Franschhoek range from affordable down-to-earth food to Masterchef quality (and prices) at Reuben's and Le Quartier Français, to name just a few. Café Franschhoek is reasonably priced with something for everyone on the menu. My husband went for adventurous seafood pasta, while I ate grilled chicken breasts smothered in spinach, mozzarella, bacon and avo with a French salad. It was deliciously simple.
Sunday morning is always bittersweet; there is still another day of weekend to enjoy but the end is a little bit too close for comfort. We were both sad that our perfect weekend at Klein Oliphants Hoek was coming to an end. We had plenty of beauty in store for us on the way home; the drive back to Cape Town was smattered with stunning views of vineyards and their manors, oak trees, rolling hills and proud mountains. We stopped at Blaauwklippen market, which is located on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West and takes place every Sunday. The Blaauwklippen vineyard is a perfect location for a market, with many of the attendees bringing picnic blankets to enjoy their food on the lawns. Immediately, we regretted our packed lunch waiting in the car as we smelt the aromas coming from the stalls.
Finally, we travelled the last stretch back to Cape Town and our home. It had been the perfect weekend with a delightful balance of relaxation and exploration in the breath-taking setting of Franschhoek. As for Jane Austen, we happen to think she is wrong; Klein Oliphants Hoek is a wonderfully comfortable retreat away from home and we can't wait to go back.
To find out more about Residence Klein Oliphants Hoek and to book a weekend away, click here.