Babylonstoren is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in South Africa, set at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain in the Franschhoek Valley, between Paarl and Franschhoek.
At Babylonstoren there are an array of different activities and experiences for everyone. The farm includes formal gardens with more than 300 plants, a farm to fork restaurant, guest suites, a spa, greenhouse and impressive wine tasting venue.
Located just an hours’ drive outside of Cape Town north of Stellenbosch, the historic town of Paarl was first established as a farming community in 1687 and is the third oldest European settlement in South Africa.
Paarl is filled with a rich history. Whilst it was originally known as ‘Drakenstein’, its current name is derived from the village which sprung up at the foot of Pearl Mountain, or ‘Pearl Rock’, in 1690 (Paarl derives from the word ‘parel’, meaning ‘pearl’ in Dutch).
Originally forming part of the district of Stellenbosch, it was proclaimed a separate division in 1839, however, it has always retained a strong connection to farming and winemaking. Paarl is the second oldest wine region in the country, with its first wine farm being founded in 1692, by the French Huguenots.
Paarl is one of the main commercial centres for South African wine and played an important role in the establishment of the wine industry, which can be explored on guided wine tours of the area.
With its warm continental climate, wine farms in Paarl are well known for producing rich, full-bodied and spicy wines. Shiraz is the most notable varietal, but other terroir-suited grapes are Pinotage and Mourvèdre, plus Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier.
With over 15 wine farms within the Paarl Wine Route, options for wine tastings in Paarl are varied and many wine farms offer food and wine pairings as well as cellar tours. Well known for its inviting country hospitality, Paarl is a go-to destination for a diversity of wine experiences, from award-winning heritage estates to smaller off the beaten track hidden gems.
A few of the wine estates in Paarl are also popular for parties and events, with several playing host to beautiful wedding venues with picturesque views, ideal for that special day.
Aside from friendly wine farms, Paarl offers plenty of must-visit historical sites. Explore the extensive 12km-long Main Street which forms the Paarl Heritage Trail to view beautifully preserved 19th Century heritage buildings, alongside cafés and shops. Don’t miss the Taal Monument, a sculpture that celebrates the South African language Afrikaans, which has an integral link to the history of Paarl.
For more active adventures, Paarl offers great family-friendly hiking trails in the mountains with breathtaking views. Mountain bikers will love the abundance of MTB trails and abseiling, quad biking and horse riding are also possible.
In terms of accommodation, a small selection of guesthouses and apartments are available in town. However, the outskirts of Paarl and surrounding countryside offer up campsites, self-catering bungalows and a selection of rustic cottages on wine farms.
For more information, please refer to www.discovercapewinelands.co.za/things-to-do/things-to-do-paarl/.