Paarl is situated about 60 kilometres northeast of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province and is renowned for its haunting scenic beauty and deep viticulture and fruit growing heritage. Paarl, while not part of the Cape Town metropolitan area, falls within its economic catchment. Paarl takes its name from the huge granite outcrop on the crest of Paarl Mountain.
The town was founded in 1687, is the third oldest settlement in South Africa (Cape Town and Stellenbosch are one and two) and has a rich cultural and historical heritage. Paarl features many fine examples of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Cape Dutch buildings that intersperse a variety of restaurants and coffee shops that are spread out along the twelve kilometre-long Main Street.
The Paarl Wine Route, which is the second oldest in the country, is known for its full-bodied spicy reds and crisp whites. Shiraz is the most important varietal from the area, but Paarl wineries also produce remarkable chenin blanc, chardonnay, pinotage, viognier and mourvedre.Some of the wine farms in the area include Under Oaks, Nederburg Wines, KWV Wine Emporium, Fairview, Black Pearl Wines, Boland Kelder, Ridgeback Wine Farm and Rhebokskloof Wine Estate. One can also stop for lunch at the Grande Roche Hotel or at Harvest at the Laborie Wine Estate.
Paarl neighborhoods include: De Zoete Inval, Courtrai, Central Paarl (generally known as Upper-Paarl), Lemoenkloof, Northern Paarl, (including the area of Groenvlei); Denneburg (in the south east of the town); Vrykyk (in the south) and areas in the eastern part of the town such as New Orleans, New York, Amstelhof, Lantana and Klein Nederburg.
There are also large gated communities developed towards the South of the town on the way to Franschhoek, such as Boschenmeer (golf estate), Val de Vie (polo estate) and Pearl Valley (golf estate).
The town boasts some of the best academic high schools in the country including Paarl Gimnasium High School (est. 1858), La Rochelle Girls' High School (est.1860), Paarl Boys' High School (est.1868) and Paarl Girls' High.
Activities in Paarl include: