All aboard the Franschhoek wine tram!
Rolling vineyards? ✅
All day transport in a cute vintage tram? ✅
…What's not to love?!
A day on the Franschhoek wine tram is an absolute must do, and I don’t say that lightly! The premise is simple: buy a hop-on hop-off ticket for the bus and tram transport, and be chauffeured cellar-door to cellar-door around the best wineries that Franschhoek has to offer.
Franschhoek is a gorgeous wine growing region in South Africa. Although not as well-known as its neighbour Stellenbosch, they are so close that visiting both is a no-brainer.
Franschhoek is a small picturesque village with lovely restaurants, boutique shops and a certain laid-back charm to it. Elephants used to migrate through the town until the settlers (mostly from France) increased and the area became known as the French Corner – Franschhoek in Africaans. The French influence can be seen throughout the village today in the winery and restaurant names – Dieu Donne, La Petite Ferme and Café Des Arts to name a few.
The tram line itself was built in 1904 and was used by steam locamotives as an alternative to ox-driven carts for farmers who were transporting their produce. As time went on, steam turned to diesel, and when demand dried up the line was shut… until 2012 when the Wine Tram was born!
Our day on the wine tram was so relaxing, the only difficult choice was which route to take. There are 8 different 'lines' each stopping at different wineries (actually this probably isn't that difficult, I just made a meal of it because of there's so much choice). We opted for the red line after reading it was a good one for easy drinking, white wines – perfect!
I opted to book the earliest slot - you've got to make the most of your day, right?! But it turns out this was a good (and not just a drunken person's) decision. There's a lot of wineries to visit, and once the tram drops you off it will be an hour before it returns on it’s next loop. An hour at each stop is a nice amount of time to do a tasting, or enjoy a glass, take in the views over the vineyards and the Franschhoek mountains too.
One of my favourite stops on route was actually our first, Maison. It’s unsurprising that on approach it looked like a little farm house, with a gorgeous front garden with chickens running around and the calmest atmosphere. The service was immaculate and we were served in their serene garden and sat back in the early morning sunshine, taking in the views of the mountains.
Part of what’s so great about the tram is the contrast in types of winery. We visited charming family-run vineyards with views straight out to their vines at Eikehof, to established names such as Leopards Leap where the view you marvel at is more the architecture of the building.
Towards the end of the day we were treated to the best view of all, from Dieu Donne. The bus makes its way up a few steep hills and you are treated to the most amazing vista below. The clouds and rain started rolling in at this point which just added to the atmosphere.
As you can probably tell, (and if your stopping off at as many wineries as you can) the day quickly disappears...! I'd recommend making a plan at the beginning of the day as to where to stop and making sure you can see everywhere you want, whilst still getting back into town in time. That way you can relax, take in the vistas and sip that cold, delicious white.
Pro tip: Make sure you stop for a big lunch, and once back in the town check out Dutch East for a perfect South African steak to soak up all that wine!
To buy tickets go to: http://www.winetram.co.za