Le Quartier Français – South Africa
Hotel Type: 5* luxury boutique.
Location: On the edge of Franschhoek in the heart of the winelands, just 45 minutes from Cape Town.
Style: Chic Provençal auberge.
Rooms: 25 individually designed rooms and suites.
Ideal For: Your wineland base.
Swimming: The Pool Suites come with their own pool, while there’s a swimming pool in the spa.
Dining: Expect French fine dining with a South African flair. There’s two restaurants available; Protégé is an informal setting offering small plates inspired by French, Italian and Asian cuisine. Épice’s menu is more refined, again with dishes showing international influence.
Children: Children are very welcome, although there are no specific facilities for children.
Activities: While a wine tour is a must in this region, there’s more to the Western Cape than vineyards. Hike the trails of Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and take in the stunning views over Franschhoek Mountains. Art plays a big part in the region with plenty of art galleries to discover, while golf enthusiasts can take to one of the golf courses in the area.
Spa: The Leeu Spa, set among the vineyards, offers a vast menu of holistic treatments. The facilities include four treatment rooms, a hair and nail salon, steam rooms, a 15-metre infinity swimming pool and a plunge pool.
Low Season Price From: £448 for an Auberge Room including breakfast.
High Season Price From: £555 for an Auberge Room including breakfast.
Open From: All year round.
In the 17th Century, the Huguenots sought refuge in this mainly Dutch settled region, and to this day, it retains its distinct Provençal character. Franschhoek literally means French corner. Le Quartier Français is a laid back and understated boutique retreat with the Western Cape mountains behind and some of the country’s finest vineyards surrounding it. Just a few minutes from Franschhoek itself, it is secluded and tranquil. It sits in colourful landscaped gardens, with sculptures dotted around, looking out over the mountains. Superlative service, excellent cuisine, and of course, a very extensive wine list, make it the perfect base for your Western Cape travels.
The décor is simple and elegant, with walls papered in pretty block print and chairs and cushions upholstered in bold patterned fabrics. The rooms and suites are light filled with views over the courtyard garden or the magnificent Western Cape mountains. The Auberge Rooms are spacious with a comfortable living area and large bathrooms. They can sleep two adults, with some having a sofa bed for a child. The larger Grande Rooms have equally wonderful views and a bright colour palette. The very comfortable Petite Garden Suites look out onto their own secret garden and feature luxurious bathrooms. The Pool Suites are very generous in size, with their own walled gardens and pool. They also come with a sofa bed, making them ideal for families travelling with children. Set around its own courtyard, the Four Quarters Suite is very spacious and beautifully decorated. It has a superking bed and large sofa bed for children.
Not only is the Western Cape South Africa’s most celebrated wine region, it is also its gastronomic capital. So it can be no surprise that the food at Le Quartier Français is particularly good. Informal and stylish, Protégé is renown for its small plates menu – beautifully presented and delicious dishes with French, Italian and Asian influences. Here, you can eat on the terrace, or watch the chefs in the show kitchen in the main restaurant. As you can imagine, the wine list has a strong local influence – with many as part of the set-tasting on the menu. Épice also has flavours from far flung places in its refined menu. Dishes from Spain, Japan, Mexico and Denmark all have imprinted their mark on the culinary team.
There are no specific facilities for children, but families are very welcome.
Naturally, a visit to the Western Cape will involve at least one wine tour. The trophy cabinet at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek is bursting with awards, with their wines consistently highly rated both nationally and internationally. Tutored tasting sessions allow you to experience new vintage releases and special cuvées, whilst you learn the finer nuances of these handcrafted wines. The choice of wine tours in this region is almost limitless – the difficulty lies in choosing which ones to visit. Of course, you’re not just restricted to wine related activities here. The region boasts many excellent golf courses – Pearl Valley, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Erinvale with its stunning location surrounded by the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains are just two. The area is also famous for its gardens, with those at Babylonstoren being particularly impressive, or the exceptionally beautiful Dylan Lewis sculpture garden. For a larger wilderness experience, the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, part of the UNESCO Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, can easily take a day of your time, hiking its trails and admiring the panoramic views over the Franschhoek Mountains. Or combine a drive and a wine tour at the Chamonix Wine and Game Drive. You are surrounded by great walking country, or explore on horseback or by e-bike. The region also has very strong artistic roots, and wherever you go, you’ll find numerous contemporary and African art galleries – with one directly adjacent to Le Quartier Français. And after an action packed day, the Leeu Spa will revive you with a range of holistic treatments, with the pinotage grape as the main ingredient. Rest and repeat!