Known as “The Pearl of the Cape”, Paarl sits beneath the rugged Du Toitskloof Mountains in the Berg River Valley and is known for its cultural roots and laid-back way of life. The Khoisan were the first to call the Berg River Valley home and remnants of their creativity can still be found in caves around Bainskloof and Wemmershoek.
The European settlers made their way through the valley in the mid-1650s and soon the “Pearl Mountain” had attracted a motley group of inhabitants, including migrants from all over Europe, Malaysian slaves, Xhosa labourers and even Italian prisoners of war.
Historical buildings in town pay tribute to the fascinating history of the area and it is here that you’ll find Cape Dutch, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco influences lobbying for position.
Paarl is also known for numerous art galleries and studios (in town and on the wine farms) and the area is known for beautiful ceramics and Venetian-style glass.
Paarl is best known for its superb red wines, especially Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and visiting the top wine estates is part of the fun. Like Franschhoek, Paarl is also known for its spectacular local produce and wonderful restaurants, and there are olive-growers, cheese-makers and chocolatiers in the region.
Look out for
Visit famous wine estates such as Nederberg, Backsberg, Glen Carlou, Avondale and Laborie.
Stake your claim on the Bretagne Dome on Paarl Mountain, which is about 50-million years old.
Enjoy a cheese-and-wine tasting at Fairview, a wine estate renowned for its fabulous goat’s cheese.
Visit the KWV Wine Emporium and experience a chocolate-and-brandy tasting.
Take in the history of the town with a visit to the Afrikaans Language Monument and Museum or visit Het Gesticht, the fourth-oldest church building in South Africa.
Visit the Glen Carlou Gallery to view the Hess Collection – a combination of wine, art and home-grown culture.
For outdoors lovers, there are great walks on offer in the Limietberg Nature Reserve. You can go hot-air ballooning, mountain-biking and hiking.
Visit Vesuvio Estate, where some of the finest olive oil in the world is found.