Tram route unique to Rickety Bridge, Grande Provence

FRANSCHHOEK is even more cool following the introduction of a Wine Tram. It’s a pity that it only stops at two of the farms – Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge – on a route that begins close to the ticket office in the Bijoux Centre on Huguenot Road, but then the trip also includes an option to transfer from the tram onto a quaint old bus that chugs up Uitkyk Street to the cellars of Chamonix and Dieu Donné as well as to the Huguenot Museum and up the Pass Road to Haute Cabriére.

The bus is a vintage Ford Trion that’s been converted to look similar to the tram with open sides and the same green kit. However it’s on the tracks that you can clatter along between the vines in the new tram, built in South Africa and modelled along the lines of the Brill Trams of the late 1800s – similar to some of those used for sight-seeing tours in America.

The Franschhoek Wine Tram (and bus) service usually operates from mid-morning to mid-afternoon seven days a week. It’s best to check the website (click on the link above) or phone +27 (0)21 300 0338 to confirm departure times and enquire about ticket availability in advance, as the schedule is weather-dependent, the number of tickets issued per day is limited, and the prices of R150pp for adults (R75 for under-17s and no charge for children under 5) are sometimes lowered on special occasions or during promotions.
The fare covers the cost of a tour guide commentary plus wine tastings at Dieu Donné, Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge – it’s weird that Chamonix and Cabriére haven’t waived their tasting fees, and unfortunate that tickets cannot be bought at the wineries (only online via Web Tickets or from the ticket office in the village).
Our advice? Hop on the tram to the Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate or Rickety Bridge, hop off for a spot of lunch and then hop onto the tram again to get back to town. At Grande Provence you’re taken from tram to cellar on a tractor-drawn trailer and the dining is pretty classy, whereas at Rickety Bridge you get to ride in an old Dodge truck, the dining is more laid back (including a deck) and they’ll be trying particularly hard to please, given the recent revamp of their restaurant. On the other hand, if it’s a panoramic view of the valley that you’re after, then bus up to Dieu Donné Vineyards on the mountainside.
Wine tips in terms of these cellars are Rickety Bridge Shiraz and anything under their Paulina’s Reserve label, Grande Provence Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas reds and bubbly are the strong suits at Dieu Donné.