Franschhoek Wine Tram now tracks far and beyond to the Simonsberg
AS INTERESTING as the news that the Franschhoek Wine Tram service now includes two double-deckers that can carry more passengers and afford better views of the scenery, is that the rail transport connecting the town with the winelands has been extended to three more estates. Sure, you can hop on an open-sided bus and hop off at a number of estates higher up the slopes or elsewhere in the valley where the track doesn’t reach. But for the clickety-clack away from the busy Huguenot high street, Main Road and R45, you can travel to Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge and now also to Allée Bleue on the outskirts of the district and beyond to Plaisir de Merle and Vrede en Lust in the foothills of the Simonsberg, Simondium, across the Paarl border.
Designed and built in South Africa, the new trams are modelled on the UK’s Balcony Tramcars of the 1920s. The ticket office in Huguenot Road is a couple of minutes’ walk from the Village railway line and about 20 minutes from the Valley railway line. The duration of a return trip in the proximity of the village and the full length of the valley is about half an hour and an hour respectively – your entire outing will last anything from a couple of hours to a full day.
It is possible to stay on the tram, to not get off for the duration of a sortie into the winelands, in which case a round trip takes approximately an hour-and-a-half. But there is no food or drinks served on board – it is recommended that passengers alight for a wine tasting and/or lunch at one or more of the estates en route.
There are eight tours to choose from: six hop-on-hop-off colour-coded lines @ R220 per adult and R90 per child, a four- to five-hour group experience @ R195 per adult (minimum of 20 people), as well as a ‘curated’ experience from mid-morning to late afternoon @ R1050 per adult (including lunch).
• For more of the bonus attractions in Wine SA, see here.