The Franschhoek Wine Tram Story
Grab a cup of coffee and join us on a journey into the rich history that runs deep within our tram lines!
Explore the 300-year history that reveals the depth of our rich heritage.
Did you know that the history of Franschhoek stretches back more than 300 years? Let us share this 300-year story with you!
It begins across the waters in France in the 1600s, where at this time, there was widespread religious persecution by the ruling Catholics towards the Protestants. Because of this, more than 200 000 of these Protestants became refugees, as they fled their home country for others in Europe, many of them making their way to the Netherlands. At this time, the Dutch East India Company governed a small colony on the tip of Southern Africa, known as the Cape colony.
The Cape is where the refugees were sent, on ships that were originally designed to carry cargo, and after a long and grueling trip, which lasted several months, they arrived on soil that was foreign to them, but a place they were ready to call home.
Franschhoek, or ‘Olifantshoek’, as it was then named for the herds of elephant that roamed the area, was where nine of these Huguenot families ultimately settled after having been given land by the Dutch authorities. Through determination and perseverance, they transformed the wilderness around them into one of the most beautiful valleys in the Cape, if not the world!
Discover the finest flavour that lies within this perfectly positioned picturesque landscape.
Breathtaking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine and fine wines. These are the hallmarks of the beautiful Franschhoek Valley in the heart of the Cape Winelands!
When the Huguenots first settled in this spectacular valley over 300 years ago, they brought with them their traditions and knowledge in winemaking and viticulture from their native France, and transformed the valley they now called ‘home’. This proud heritage can be seen and felt today in the Franschhoek Village and on the surrounding farms.
Today, the Franschhoek Valley offers a variety of cellars, from small boutique wineries that cater for those in search of something unique, to large cellars that offer organised tours and tastings. Award-winning wines range from plump reds to elegant whites and delicious sparkling wines.
This longstanding tradition of winemaking is a perfect complement to the superb cuisine offered in any one of Franschhoek’s more than 40 restaurants. Franschhoek is now known as the Wine & Gourmet Capital of South Africa, and boasts many talented chefs, several who have been awarded the highest national and international culinary honours!
The sweet revival of the tracks that were laid by legends over a century ago.
The tracks upon which the Franschhoek Wine Tram now runs, were originally built in 1904 to serve as an alternative to ox-drawn carts for farmers wanting to get their produce to market.
For many years, steam locomotives operated along the route until diesel locomotives took over in the 1970s, and then, in the 1990s, as the need for rail transport decreased, service along the railway line diminished. For more than a decade the railway line remained dormant until it was revived and returned to full-time service in 2012 as what we know and love today, the Franschhoek Wine Tram!
One of a kind design built for the perfect Wine Tram experience!
The original single-decker tram, otherwise known as the ‘Brill Tram’, was built primarily for guest comfort and taking in the views, and ultimately offered the Franschhoek visitor a brand new way to explore the Franschhoek valley. For the first time, guests were able to enjoy views that before were considered ‘off the beaten-track’.
The newly constructed double-decker trams, which were introduced to the tracks in 2017, were modelled after the Blackpool Corporation Double Deck Balcony Tramcar circa 1923. The almost five-metre tall double-decker trams give passengers a unique and unparalleled vantage point from which to survey and experience the local countryside.
Each tram seats a maximum of 78 passengers on comfortable flip-over benches, allowing guests to enjoy views in both directions. The tram has a top speed of 32 km per hour, and a total weight of approximately 20 tons when fully loaded. The trams were proudly engineered and constructed in South Africa by DCD Rolling Stock.
May our unique story continue to unfold, and we’d love you to be a part of it!