Franschhoek, South Africa
For wining, dining – and a little more wining – amid dramatic scenery, there’s no better spot than Franschhoek in South Africa’s Western Cape. You’ll be in good company: rumour has it Richard Branson has just bought a pad nearby. A few miles from Cape Town, this once-sleepy, country hideaway is a secret retreat for those in the culinary know. Gastronomes can dine very well in some of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant winners and swish a few glasses in highly renowned wine cellars. Visit the Huguenot Monument and Memorial Museum for local flavour of a different kind: the influence of the French immigrants who settled here in the late 17th century can still be felt throughout the region. After a few days sipping in the sun you may well consider becoming an émigré yourself.
When to go
January and February have the balmiest temperatures – around 20 °C – and the lowest chance of rain. Avoid June and July, unless you’re a fan of neverending storms and a nip in the air.
PlanesFly to Cape Town – most major airlines (including British Airways; www.britishairways.com) run direct flights from the US and Europe. Franschhoek is just over an hour’s drive inland.
TrainsIt’s not the most convenient way to reach the valleys, but it’s possible to take the train from Cape Town to Stellenbosch (check www.cttrains.co.za for times), then drive the extra half hour to Franschhoek.
AutomobilesA car will be invaluable for exploring the region. Hire one at Cape Town airport, then take the N1 and R45 routes to Franschhoek.