The fact that I was going to be away for business in Sandton for my birthday back in May, meant that Chantelle and I bumped things up a little and headed out to breathtaking Franschhoek the weekend preceding Monday the 11th, free of the kids (thanks grandparents!) and ready to take in some culture!
Early Friday afternoon saw us hit the road, and the impromptu decision to head out to Franschhoek by looping around Viljoen’s Pass and then Franschhoek Pass was a good indicator of how the weekend was going to be. Relaxed, fun, and full of beautiful things.
An unplanned stop at the Peregrine Farm Stall resulted in some delicious coffee and cake to start things off, and then it was back on the road for what was one of the more scenic drives that I’ve enjoyed for quite some time!
The guest house that Chantelle had picked out for us (she organised the entire weekend mind you!) was a place by the name of Maison d’Ail – a luxurious guest house nestled under the Franschhoek mountains, fronted with a beautiful pool and even more majestic views. Given that there weren’t any other bookings for the weekend, the owner graciously upgraded us to his luxury suite – which came with its own little balcony and even more views of Franschhoek mountains!
The guest house was perfect, the food great and the accommodation comfortable – not that we spent all that much time there mind you. This was to be a proper weekend of being out and about! :)
Chantelle and I enjoyed a relaxing stroll around Franschhoek before heading out to supper on Friday evening, picking out the French Connection Bistro as our place of choice for the evening. As expected, both the food and wine was excellent, and seated outside for the view and fresh air, we were treated to a fantastic night out and about in Franschhoek.
Saturday morning was an early start, as we raced away after a hearty breakfast to an undisclosed location, me genuinely excited at not knowing where we were heading or what my big birthday surprise was meant to be, Chantelle super excited by the fact that I was both so excited and clueless at the same time!
Sadly for her though, her big surprise was ruined, when, after arriving at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (my mouth was hanging on the floor at this stage), a young pilot let us know that due to the overcast conditions at all the other landing strips, my intro flight had to unfortunately be cancelled. Absolute devastation.
Shame, Chantelle was literally in tears! (Note: a lot of rescheduling later, I did eventually go up in a Cessna Skyhawk – it was awesome!)
So it was a sad drive back to Franschhoek for Chantelle, but thankfully our next stop was exactly what was needed to bring back a little cheer to her face – the ‘chocolate experience’ tasting and informational session at the Belgian-trained chocolatiers, Huguenot Fine Chocolates.
Following that, we strolled around Franschhoek a bit, taking in the great sunshine and atmosphere, stopped for some coffee at Sacred Ground (the coffee shop / bakery that Chantelle used to supply with cupcakes and cakes back in the day), and booked our tickets for the Wine Tram experience on Sunday.
With that done, it was on to the next site for the day: Johan Rupert’s fabulous Franschhoek Motor Museum at the L’Ormarins Estate. Chantelle had organised a tour guide for the session, and we spent the next couple of informative hours strolling through the four massive barns filled with some of the most beautiful classic cars you have ever seen – an experience which even load shedding couldn’t take the shine off of!
And then the day got even better.
As we stepped out of the front door following our excursion, I was greeted by a beautiful 1959 Cadillac Series 62 convertible – to which Chantelle then strode and climbed in!
Yes, Chantelle had organised for us to be driven along the estate, stopping for a light snack in between. What a fantastic experience!
The excitement of the car museum behind us, we then decided to head out on a bit of a drive, and made our way through to the Hillcrest Berry Orchards for some scones and tea – a personal favourite of Chantelle and something we do without fail at least once or twice a year! :)
Relaxed, full and rather content with life in general, we finally headed back to Maison d’Ail to put our feet up for a little bit, before once again heading into Franschhoek, our goal the fabulous Roca restaurant perched on the top of a hill on the Dieu Donne wine estate.
Needless to say, the food at this particularly cosy and majestic eatery was absolutely brilliant!
Sunday was to be the day of wine, and following a good night’s rest and a great breakfast, we packed our bags, bid farewell to Maison d’Ail and headed off to the pickup point for the Franschhoek Wine Tram, looking forward to our first ever taste of their hop-on hop-off tour.
We selected the estates that we wanted to visit (in the end, we only made it to three of the six on our particular line!), and off we went, the cute and clever little tram and busses shuttling us off to the most wine tasting sessions we’ve ever experienced in a single day!
Rickety Bridge, Grande Provence, La Couronne – we had an absolute blast, took in some beautiful views of both landscape and art, enjoyed particularly good wines, experienced a cellar tour and even paired chocolates, cheeses and wine!
An absolute stunning day out which I can only but highly recommend to anyone who enjoys drinking wine!
And that was that.
The weekend was over and reality returned, meaning that after a quick stop for a bite to eat and coffee to rid us of the last tipsy effects thanks to all the wine, it was off to Bellville in order to pick up the kids and then finally back home.
Without a doubt, a birthday weekend to remember! :)