Accommodation in Paarl

One of Cape Town’s oldest and most established towns, Paarl - or die Pêrel as it’s known by locals - is located roughly an hour from the Mother City’s CBD. With its culture-rich Afrikaans-heritage and knock-out natural beauty, it’s a welcome getaway for locals and foreigners alike. And, similar to neighbouring Stellenbosch, which was founded by Simon van Der Stel in the 1800s, making it one of SA’s first favourable wine regions, boasts some exceptionally good quaffs.

Staying just outside Paarl at the charming guest manor Eben-Haëzer, Rebecca Solomon gets up and personal with the dorpie’s traditional charm; rubs shoulders with locals and soaks up some late summer sunshine from beneath the patchwork of cooling oak tree leaves.

Wine country

Whether you drink the stuff or not, wine is a big deal in Paarl. Stencilling the rolling hills with lines of vines, the abundance of vineyards is one of the area’s best features. Visited by busloads of visitors every day - all keen to roll a black forest cake-nosed Cabernet or a grassy Sauvignon Blanc (which I discovered recently doesn’t actually mean there’s cake or grass in the wine - rather that it’s nose or aroma resembles cake. Interesting) - around their palettes and take some of the local goods home, the farms are a major tourist magnet and double-up as one of the area’s most promising enterprises.

Staying in town during the Wellington Wine Festival weekend – a smaller wine producing region not far from Paarl that is gaining popularity fast among locals - I strolled around one of the many participating farms, Diemersfontein, to sample their bevy of ‘famous’ wines (the sales guy did an exceptional job in making me believe that every cultivar, be it red, white or rose, was its flagship and had to be tried and tested). Not wrong on the Pinotage, Cab or Viognier, I left carrying enough bottles to cater for a small wedding, no cash bar required.

Down the road from Diemersfontein is another beautiful setting: Rhebokskloof. Situated in Agter Paarl (meaning behind Paarl), this gem is a must-see, especially in warmer months when you can linger longer on the grass with a picnic basket, chilled bottle of Sauvignon, cosy blanket and a relaxing mood to match. A favourite among bridal parties, Rhebokskloof is an exquisite venue boasting an interior restaurant, cigar bar and metres of rolling lawns tumbling towards a lake populated with local birdlife like weavers. Tucking into a picnic basket bursting with vegetarian quiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheese platters, chocolate brownies and more (in all honesty there was at least double what I’ve mentioned, which for R220 is not a bad deal) I kicked back in Sunday-style and did little more than nothing….

And if you’re still keen to see more, another of Paarl’s popular wine experiences is Fairview. Greeted by the evil-eyed goats guarding their castle turret upon arrival, visitors are welcomed to a banquet of wine and cheese (and fig, ginger and lime jam and balsamic reduction dips), tastings in their cellar and/or a lip-smacking meal at their restaurant. Built strategically for tourists – local and otherwise, Fairview is a wine and cheese mecca, enticing guests to sample every nibble of goat’s cheese or drop of cultivar allowed.  After all the snacking, book a table al fresco or indoors and tuck into full-size platters of sandwiches, salads and local dishes like springbok fillet washed down with a large tulip-shaped glass of vino.

A tribute to language

Over and above the obvious wine heritage, another Paarl landmark is the TaalMonument. Situated on the peak of the PaarlMountain the eye-catching structure was built in 1975 by architect Jan van Wijk. A testament to Afrikaan’s roots, the mammoth design honours the languages that influenced ‘die taal’ such as Dutch, French, Malay, Khoi and African. An epic figure set against the azure sky, the monument is futuristic in shape and casts an insightful shadow of our heritage’s core. Take a stroll around the monument or rest your feet while overlooking a panoramic view of the farmlands below while snacking on a light lunch from the restaurant.

Downtown Paarl

A wander along the Main Road also won’t disappoint. With plenty of gourmet coffee shops like Kikka (a delightful palette of colourful interiors acting as both coffee shop and florist), beautiful old buildings and arty stores, visitors can savour the stillness and peace of the area (just watch out for those falling acorns!). If in the area during September consider going to Cultivaria, a medley of local art, theatre, music and wine. Attracting visitors from Cape Town and surrounds to join in the activity, the festival celebrates Paarl in all its charm and cultural beauty.

Accommodation fit for a King (and Queen)

Done with all the drinking, eating and exploring, you’ll sure to be keen to rest your full tummies and tired souls for the night. Spoilt for choice in Paarl and surrounding areas, guest houses, B&B and boutique hotels can be found by the dozen. I stayed in a delightful place that can’t be described as anything other than pure magic. Eben-Haëzer, a family run guest manor situated ten minutes outside of Paarl heading towards Worchester, is one of the most unique establishments I’ve stayed in. The brainchild of Louise Breugem, an expat from Holland, Eben’s history has evolved much like Madonna’s music career: to suit a new audience every few years while maintaining its artistic flair.

Having first turned part of the property into a flower shop, then a pancake eatery and now into a wedding and conference venue, Louise is going from strength to strength, using her talents to visualise the next dream and turn it into reality for guests to enjoy.

Staying in one of the Cape Dutch manor house’s outside cottages – one fit for a family with a child’s room above the main room, and the other a romantic honeymoon suite – I enjoyed both an afternoon outside on the patio sipping wine as the sun dipped below the surrounding oaks, casting their shade into shadow and a morning of breakfast on the stoep while the same sun peeked above the clouds, celebrating the freshness of day. Alternatives are to stay in the main house in one of four en-suite rooms (many with four-poster beds), all fit for a king (and queen) with a cosy heavily Dutch-inspired atmosphere to matched. And if you like dogs, you’ll be in for a treat with friendly Spencer the cocker spaniel who’s always keen for a tickle.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Sneaky Weekender articles on this website, do not necessarily reflect the views of Finding Africa.

Picnic at Rhebokskloof
Copyright © 2009 | All rights reserved 
  |   Links Directory  |  Sitemap
Join Finding Africa on Facebook
  Video Diaries     
Video diaries on Youtube