Where to go for foraging, fynbos tastings and apothecary workshops
La Cotte Inn
Your wine and cheese needs taken care of
I’m sure you’ve seen it. On the corner of Huguenot Road, just as you enter Franschhoek, there’s a building painted an earthenware shade, and wine barrels and flowers spill out onto its patio. It’s called La Cotte Inn and it's run by Ludwig Maske.
We enter the quiet shop with a hush, with just the natter of parrots in a nearby cage. As our eyes adjust to the gloom, we can make out row upon row of wine. The shelves, walls, corners: pretty much every available space plays host to antiques. There are maps with curling edges, sepia photographs, beer steins of all shapes and sizes: the list goes on, so I won’t bore you. Safe to say, my wandering eyes aren’t short of entertainment. And, the pervasive scent of ripening cheese hangs in the dusky air.
Ludwig emerges, and we settle into (you guessed it) antique chairs. “I’m a Franschhoek original,” he tells me. “Born and bred.” Of Swiss descent, Ludwig’s family settled in Franschhoek in 1945, hoteliers, they ran Excelsior Farm (which is now Le Franschhoek Hotel), and the original La Cotte Inn. Ludwig shoes us photographs of the town in its infant stages, a world away from the polished front it puts up now.
“This building is over 100-years-old,” Ludwig is explaining. “It’s been butchery, a bakery, a restaurant, and even a clothing store.” It’s renowned for an excellent range, and you pay cellar door prices for all Franschhoek wines. They also have an impressive collection of imported wines, which we discover in the cellar.
“I import these wines,” says Ludwig. “So I can drink them.” Leaving the dusty vintages behind, we follow our noses, like mice, to the cheese counter. Currently they stock over 100 French cheeses. “We let them ripen, before we sell,” says Ludwig indicating the creamy wedges.
With that, we’re soon back in the sunlight. Maybe I'm just being fanciful, but I can still smell the cheese metres down the road.
By Malu Lambert
35 Main Road | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 3775
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 9am –6:15pm, Saturday 9am-1pm
When in Franschhoek make sure to visit Huguenot Fine Chocolates.