Warm up this winter with a visit to Paarl

Posted on 4 July 2022 By David Henning

Paarl is more than the forgotten stepchild of the Winelands. It is a crime that when so many Capetonians think of a day’s escape from the city, they tend to overlook Paarl for an action-packed day. From the leisurely bliss of food and wine, to the physical strain of summiting Paarl Rock via one of its multiple trails – whatever you had in mind, Paarl has it on offer.

The view of the Drakenstein Valley from Paarl Rock. Picture: Getaway Gallery

Gateway to the Winelands

The second-largest wine region in the country, the Drakenstein Valley is known not just for its natural bounty, but how the toil of its people have turned it into a place of leisure. You don’t have to be into wine to enjoy Paarl – although you are in for a treat if you do – the food, cultural and adventure-based activities are enough to enjoy the town sober. But, because it’s the logical place to start, let’s get into the wine.

Using all 5 3 senses to taste

Pretentious as it may seem, you really appreciate wine when you engage all your senses to savour wine’s complexity. Although a sommelier may testify to the importance of swirling wine and then looking at it in the light, seeing the legs run down the side of the glass, it’s amazing what you can discover when you’re blindfolded.

Engaging our senses during the Nederberg Five Senses Food and Wine Experience. Picture: Christel de Beer

It is said that we eat with our eyes and Nederburg is putting this to the test. So, put on some tunes and pair wine with a superb meal. Their Five Senses Food and Wine Experience lets you pair gorgeous food and wine, without the aid of sight or sound.

The experience lets you taste three different wines paired with a dish – blindfolded and listening to music on headphones. They will guide your hand to the wine and the spoonful of food, as you try and decipher it all. If you thought you knew your wine, this is the ultimate test!

Visit the Paarl-Wellington Wine Route here.

Paarl is more than just a Language Monument

The Afrikaans Language Monument may overlook the Drakenstein Valley below, and although it is a fascinating site in itself, other famous figures have trodded these lands. An unassuming historical site is the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

The Patriot building is part of the walking tour. This is where the first Afrikaans newspaper, Die Patriot, was printed. Picture: Paarl-Wellington Tourism.

Formerly the Victor Verster Prison, this is the location where Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 gruelling years in prison. Going back a bit further, Paarl is the third-oldest settlement in South Africa, Established in 1687.

Take a step back in time with a walking tour through the historical centre along one of the best-preserved streets in South Africa, with old buildings. For more information about the self-guided historical walk, click here.


La Paris Bistro

From brunch to a coffee break, to dinner – Paarl has an array of choices to keep you fuelled for an action-packed day. Just across from the Drakenstein Correctional Centre where you snapped a selfie by the Mandela statue, is La Paris Bistro.

For a dining experience that emphasizes fresh, sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, look no further than this tranquil eatery. Dishes are made from scratch, and the outdoor seating area, with its beautiful garden and giant oak trees, provides a perfect setting for an al fresco meal. On chilly days, guests can cozy up indoors by the fireplace and enjoy the warm, welcoming atmosphere. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most popular restaurants in Paarl!

Paarl has also embraced the coffee craze, with the seemingly small town being home to several coffee roasteries. Coffee shops are well-frequented every Wednesday, known among locals as dorpsdag (town day), when the school kids of Paarl’s many boarding schools have the afternoon free to explore the town.

Stoep Bistro at Laborie

After a day of wine tasting and activities or just perusing around the town, head to Laborie Heritage Wine Estate to wind down. You can sneak in a final tasting at their tasting room, but be sure to try out their new Stoep Bistro.

This Bistro offers some of the best views in Paarl, with the vineyards and mountain your backdrop where you can choose to indulge in flavourful tapas-style dishes or a hearty main meal – with a glass of wine of course. Be sure to stop at the Farm Grocer on your way out, where you can grab locally sourced fresh ingredients, fresh bread and more.

For more information, visit the Paarl-Wellington tourism page.


Cheers! South Africa’s wonderful wine routes

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