The art of serious bread making: Knysna’s Ile de Pain

Posted on 10 February 2012

Not to visit ile de pain, on Thesen Island, whilst holidaying in Knysna would be like skipping the Eiffel Tower while touring France. It is not just a treat but also a heritage site in the making. In the words of Markus Farbinger, ile de pain’s artisan baker, ‘This is a living museum, a cultural place where we teach and educate’… and while we are at it, let’s eat!

Ile de pain – the island of bread – is alive with sights and smells. It is a hub of energy, conversation and wholesome goodness- a party for the senses. Authentic, rough and real in nature, ile de pain is just like its bread. Markus urges customers not to get it confused with a designer boutique bakery, ‘this is serious, noble labour… our bread is bold, mean and full of life.’

Renowned chef, Liezie Mulder, and Markus opened the doors of ile de pain in the December of 2002. While in the States, the two met and discovered they shared the same vision. Independently, they dreamt of creating a space that celebrated time-honoured artisan techniques of bread making, coupled with a menu designed around nourishing and fresh ingredients.

When it comes to excellence in the oven, the buck doesn’t begin and end with Markus. He admits that the success of serious bread making starts in the field. ‘True artisan skill involves science, brain and heart. We are artisan bakers, but rely on artisan millers and artisan farmers for successful bread making.’ In tune with the land, the product Markus and his team of eclectic bakers produce optimizes natural goodness and health. The absence of chemicals and the revival of traditional bread making techniques (that began in Africa 7000 years ago) lend to ile de pain’s wholesome bread. Markus sheds some new light on the equation ‘bread equals bloated’, stating that, ‘Good bread is absolutely good for you.’ The key words here are ‘good bread.’

Located on Thesen Island, ile de pain is open for breakfast and lunch. Designed by Liezie, the menu is honest, fun and full of flavour. Try their brioche French toast topped with berry compote and mascarpone for breakfast with a mint cacao pick-me-up smoothie on the side. For lunch, taste Marco’s fresh mozzarella and marinated summer vegetable salad or idp’s house made pure beef burger. On your way out, pick a pastry for tea, some Felchin chocolate, a jar of lemon jelly or a packet of fresh limes for R20.

Robert Browning, the English poet once said, ‘If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.’ In no place could this be truer than at Knysna’s ile de pain.

Knead to know?

Ile de pain is open for breakfast 08h00 to 11h00 and lunch 11h30 to 15h00 from Tuesday to Saturday, and on Sunday from 09h00 to 13h30 (breakfast and lunch menu all day).

Closed on Mondays.

Please note the menu is subject to change.


Find wonderful places to stay in Knysna with Getaway Accommodation.


yoast-primary -
tcat - Eating Out
tcat_slug - eating-out
tcat2 -
tcat2_slug -
tcat_final -