Renowned as the gourmet food and wine capital of South Africa and a major tourist destination, the captivating village of Franschhoek in the beautiful Cape Winelands has also steadily been gaining favour over the past few years among luxury home buyers around the world and in SA.
Its profile is being given a further international boost currently on Listing Cape Town, the latest luxury property series being presented on BBC Lifestyle (DStv174, Wednesdays at 20:00).
The six-episode season features multi-million rand homes in areas such as Bantry Bay, Clifton and Camps Bay along the Atlantic Seaboard, Bishopscourt in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, the Val de Vie Winelands Lifestyle Estate near Paarl, and Franschhoek.
Renée Lister-James, Franschhoek area specialist for Chas Everitt International, is one of only five top Cape property professionals featured in the series, and as a long-time resident of the village, she notes that it is already home to a large number of high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who revel in its picturesque setting, lifestyle and cosmopolitan ambience.
“The centre of Franschhoek, founded more than 300 years ago, is like a little slice of Paris, celebrating its Huguenot history in its boutiques, bistros, patisseries, chocolatiers, pavement cafés and fine dining restaurants run by some of SA’s top chefs,” she says.
“But it also has the definite flavour of Africa, with its sunny summers offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy hiking, mountain biking and paragliding, browsing your way through outdoor craft and artisanal food markets, listening to live local music or enjoying a gourmet picnic on a centuries-old wine estate. Franschhoek is also the gateway to several wine tasting routes incorporating many of the Cape’s oldest and most distinguished wineries.”
Nestled in the valley between the Simonsberg and Groot Drakenstein Mountain ranges, Franschhoek has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold winters when there is often snow on the surrounding mountains. However, she notes, it hosts two international festivals in the winter months – the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May and the Bastille Day Festival in July – and for those indoor days, boasts several galleries featuring exceptional local artworks as well as a handful of world-class wellness retreats and spas.
“Add in spectacular sunsets and a short drive to Cape Town International, it’s hardly surprising that the village has long been the darling of wealthy European ‘snowbirds’ seeking to escape the northern hemisphere winters by living here for half the year. The area has also for the past two years been attracting an increasing number of affluent permanent residents seeking a tranquil and secure retreat. Currently, most buyers are HNWIs from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and even Cape Town who have retired or, thanks to the rise in remote working, are no longer bound to a specific business location.”
A major attraction for the latter, says Lister-James, is the chance to educate their children at top private schools such as Bridge House, Simond and the new Green School. Other sought-after schools in the area include La Rochelle Girls’ High and Paarl Boys’ High in Paarl. The village is also just 20 minutes’ drive from Stellenbosch University.
“In addition, there is huge architectural diversity here, from traditional Cape Dutch through Victorian and Georgian to neo-Classical, modern farmhouse and ultra-modern sustainable builds.”
The result, according to the latest report from New World Wealth, is that the Franschhoek/ Paarl/ Stellenbosch area is now home to 3200 South African dollar millionaires, or the fourth largest concentration of ultra-wealthy individuals in the country.
However, she says, foreign interest has been rising again since economies and travel started to open up post-Covid.
“Affluent foreign investors are increasingly exposed to our listings through this network, and they are interested in all types of local luxury property, including historical freehold homes, small and large wine farms, five-star guest houses, and homes in the boutique wine and olive estate developments that are a feature of the Franschhoek market.
“The prices of such properties generally range from around R15m up to around R30m, and Listing Cape Town will reveal that this represents really exceptional value compared to similar real estate investments in other parts of the world, especially when one takes the rand exchange rate with dollars, pounds or euros into account,” says Renée Lister-James.
Writer : Chas Everitt International