by Simon Capstick-Dale

La Clé des Montagnes

Your key to the mountains

La Clé des Montagnes
 La Clé des Montagnes
Hands on steering wheel flying down the N2 leaving Cape Town, I take great pleasure in reminding myself that it’s our second visit to the winelands town of Franschhoek in less than two months. Although flaunting a different kind of splendour in the wet that epitomised our last visit, the fact that it’s 28 degrees, with clear skies and not a breath of wind in the ‘French Corner’ this Friday, is a more than agreeable contrast.
 
La Clé des Montagnes is a selection of four unique villas on a working wine estate a short stroll from the centre of Franschhoek. Surrounded by picturesque vineyards, plum orchards and magnificent mountains, these individually themed villas are bedecked by esteemed interior decorator, Sarah Ord.
 
Dating back to 1820, the recently refurbished manor house (Villa Le Manoir) on La Clé des Montagnes, was built by Daniel Hugo (an ancestor of the original French Huguenot settlers) and is a significant historical point of interest in the region.
 
We pull up at La Clé des Montagnes to the smiling face of our Butler, Frank. Yes, the fact that we have our very own butler for the duration of our stay is news to us too. And if you want your own gourmet chef to cook in your kitchen, that can be arranged as well.
 
Frank helps us with our bags before General Manager Peggy Klement shows us around our villa. “Well, this is it. Make yourselves comfortable and enjoy,” are the words she leaves us with.
 
We are staying in La Grange, a three-bedroom abode with extraordinary double volume living space and inspired by the feel and comfort of a highlands lodge.
 
The first thing we notice on entering the villa is the enormous fireplace that stands as centerpiece of the living area. There is a neatly made, but unlit fire (on account of the beautiful weather) in its centre. However with forever-high ceilings and a distance of about 25 metres from the library to the kitchen at each end of the space, I’m not sure whether a fire of any size could keep this mansion-of-a-room warm enough if it so happened to get chilly! But not to worry, there is general and underfloor heating to take care of that…
 
Each of the three suites in La Grange have en-suite bathrooms with both a tub and big-enough-for-two shower, lounging areas with flatscreen televisions, extensive cupboard space and a vanity area with exquisite mirror. There is even a separate loft upstairs with couches and TV.
 
With warm palettes adorning the La Grange’s interior, it has stylistic elements reminiscent of a Victorian farmhouse.
 
There is a fully-equipped kitchen, with state-of-the-art oven and coffee machine. The fridge is fully stocked with all matter of drinks and there is a nice selection of top quality spirits to choose from too.
 
There is some La Motte wine, sparkling wine and a selection of delicious cheeses in the kitchen upon our arrival. This is a great way to get into the feel of ‘life at La Clé’ and you may want to take these outside to the verandah overlooking your private pool to watch the sunset if you’ve arrived in time.
 
If you don’t feel like cooking or wish to take a stroll and soak up the pavement café mood of Franschoek, the villas are only a short stroll from the art galleries, fine restaurants and boutiques of the village centre.
 
Breakfast the following morning will be brought to you by Frank at the hour of your choice. It’s a continental breakfast and you’d be hard pressed to find one better. A selection of fresh fruit, fruit salad, muesli, pastries and jams that will set you right for any adventures you’ve planned in town. Unless of course you’d rather lounge around your pool with a novel from the villa’s library and an ice-cold gin and tonic.
 
You may be pleasantly surprised to notice that your car has been washed before you say your final farewells. But after experiencing the definition of true hospitality at La Clé des Montagnes you also may not be.
 
To find out more or make a reservation:
Tel: +27 (0) 21 876 4646
Web: www.lacle.co.za
 
 
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