For someone like me that has not been to Franschhoek, travelling on the N1 freeway in a northerly direction, it becomes more and more scenic as you make your way to Paarl and take the turnoff to Franschhoek. The majestic mountains and valleys become a frequent sight. Names and signboards with wine farms become common and you are quick to realize this is wine country. South Africa is known for its wonderful wine and as you travel to this region, the amount of wine farms is quite incredible. The well-known ones are in the small towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, so a visit to these regions should include a trip to one of the many wine farms, even if you are not a wine fanatic. I recently stayed at Le Cle Des Montages, Franschhoek and was amazed at how this accommodation complex along with the beautiful small town takes up a place in your heart.
The Experience at Le Cle Des Montagnes
The small town of Franschhoek is located 65 kilometers from Cape Town International Airport and has a rich history in South Africa. Franschhoek (Dutch for "French Corner"), had many of the settlers from the French Hugenots making the town their home, they even named their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, Champagne, La Cotte, Cabrière, La Provence, Bourgogne, La Terra de Luc and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms — most of which still retain their original Cape Dutch farm houses today, even the surnames in the town has French surnames. These farms have grown into well renowned wineries.
Franschhoek offers visitors a wide range of accommodation – from luxury boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts and self-catering establishments. I had the privilege of staying at Le Cle Des Montagnes, briefly called Le Cle. Located very close to the French Huguenot Monument and Museum located in a quiet street in beautiful vineyards and plum orchids, it allows you to really enjoy the natural beauty and surroundings of the area. A stay at Le Cle provides you with a sense of tranquillity, space and enjoyment of the flavours of the local region. Although Le Cle includes breakfast only on the room only basis, I would recommend an evening with dinner at Le Cle. The management couple at Le Cle, Scott and Melanie who manages the Village and The Lodge, who are also professional chefs makes your stay extra special. You are sure to enjoy the food offerings from them, it is dynamic and fresh, from local style 'braais' to laden breakfast tables, personalised picnics, private dining and Chef's Table dinners on select evenings. They are also very familiar with the area and can provide with you ample of options and suggestions of where to go and what to do. Franschhoek also possesses some of the country’s most well-known restaurants. Le Cle is situated very close to the main road of Franschhoek and it’s an easy stroll or bike ride to enjoy all that Franschhoek has to offer. Le Cle also has a tennis court and close to some of the popular hiking trials in the area, great for those who also loves to stay active.
There is also the popular wine tram in town, that runs along the main road and offers a hop on, hop off service to all the wine farms in the main road. Le Cle has their own bicycle for you to use which is great with the flat roads to explore. We even used the bicycles to stop at one of the small restaurants for a something to eat. Amongst all the wineries there are also craft beer breweries and brewpubs that have made their way into Franschhoek. These are fantastic and offers outdoor seating and plenty of options for something to eat while you enjoy some of the great tasting locally brewed beer. One of my favourite things to do, even better when it is in such a beautifully surrounded area.
The Lodge & Village
Le Cle offers room and suite accommodation and expands over two properties, The Village and Lodge, a mere 3-minute walk from each other. Modern styling with a classic charm and the touch of heritage along with the contemporary Cape farmhouse feel, finished off with the finest quality fittings and fabrics will make your stay at Le Cle a memorable one.
Le Cle Lodge
My first impression of Le Cle Lodge was a feeling of your home away from home. In this classic cape Dutch style accommodation in a working vineyard you will enjoy beautiful rooms, tasteful and fresh cuisine with warm hospitality.
Flowing interiors, high ceilings and ample living areas are enhanced by charming accents and the rustic beauty of traditional materials. Spend intimate time together at the Lodge in any of their five exquisitely comfortable en-suite bedrooms, or book it as an exclusive use villa for a family and friends’ getaway.
It’s also very common for guests to join each other at the breakfast and dinner table which makes the entire experience very personal. The Lodge consist of three-room categories, namely Petite, Courtyard and Garden rooms. Each with its own unique look and feel. Even the smallest rooms (Petite) is perfect for anyone looking for that stay in a comfortable and hospitable place. The ample common areas and outdoor space is more than enough to relax and absorb the setting and scenery. In my opinion, it makes Le Cle a must for anyone. There is also a swimming pool for you to relax after a day in the town or if you just want to spend some time unwinding.
Le Cle Village
We stayed at Le Cle Village for 1 night and have never experienced a place so quiet and tranquil. During the entire stay we did not even encounter anyone else until we had breakfast the following morning and met the friendly staff of Le Cle.
Le Cle Village consists of four room categories, Manoir, Grange Colonial and the Galerie, which is a 2-Bedroom villa. The Rooms can either be offered on a standalone basis or combined as villa on an exclusive use basis, but simply put the team at Le Cle is very flexible and I am convinced they will satisfy your stay expectation in every way.
Here below I have summed up each of the areas of accommodation in Le Cle Village
Grange is a historic Village house was inspired by the elegant textures, solid woods and distinct fabrics of a colonial highlands lodge. It consists of two en-suite Garden Rooms and an en-suite Courtyard Room each with a private patio and garden view, an expansive living space, library, terrace and a pool.
The warm colours that make up the interiors of the thoughtfully converted barn have been carefully selected to reflect the seasonal hues of the surrounding vineyards. A double-sided fireplace and plush furnishings ensure nothing other than a sumptuous stay. We stayed in Grange and it consists of 2 Garden Rooms and 1 Courtyard Room. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable, along with the outside terrace there is ample space to soak up some sun outside in the lovely garden.
Galerie is a Private Villa for a maximum of up to four guests, with a contemporary space where saturated colours juxtapose with minimalist interiors. It has two en-suite bedrooms, wide open living space, open plan kitchen and private garden, Galerie is the perfect fully serviced escape for up to four guests.
A showcase for the owner's private abstract art collection, delight in the antique furnishings and carefully selected contemporary accents. Spend time enjoying the collection and soaking up the design, or simply just relaxing at the private pool on the terrace with a view of the mountains and beyond.
Based on the rich history of Franschhoek, Manoir exudes an air of sophistication throughout the abundant interiors. It is a haven of heritage designed with the spirit of French linen, beautiful antiques, unexpected furnishings and carefree colours are at the heart of the villa’s charming character. Manoir has One Garden Suite and One Petite Room, the masterful Garden Suite and chic Petite Room lead onto a secluded terrace with views over the garden and vineyards.
Manoir is home to the main reception, lounge, library and dining at La Clé Village where guests come together for meals or to enjoy the rolling lawns, pool and ample living spaces. Homely, with a modern edge, Manoir offers the perfect salutation to French style in a breath-taking African landscape.
The 1 Petite Room, 2 Courtyard Rooms and 1 Garden Suit that make up Colonial has a dynamic fusion of East and North African aesthetics. Moroccan tiles and patterned fabrics establish a tasteful, vibrant style creating memorable interiors. Colonial is all about style and space. There is an expansive terrace, pool and ample room to spread out and relax, you can enjoy spacious living spaces, manicured gardens and mountain views. Colonial is a luxurious retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
This is the perfect place to let yourself experience the best hospitality nestled in the most beautiful surroundings. It also a place to let you escape and relax in a quiet piece of the Cape province. There are plenty of options and the accommodation will suit anyone and everyone.
Who should go? I would recommend this for families with kids older than six years, all adults or a group of friends.
When to go? You will have the best experience, especially the outside setting in the Summer and Spring months which is from September to April.
How to get there? Le Cle is in Franschhoek, about 65 kilometers from Cape Town International Airport and easily accessible by road transfer from Cape Town (we suggest combining Franschhoek and Cape Town to make the most of your visit).
Suggested length of stay? A stay of 2 nights should allow you enough time to relax and time to absorb the natural beauty and places in the area. For the wine lovers I would suggesting adding an additional night.
Insider tip: Take a stroll during the day though the small and quiet streets of Franschhoek, it’s great to explore the local coffee shops, boutique stores and restaurants.