Plenty to like about the Pearl of the Winelands
I have a fundamental problem with the winelands of the Western Cape - or anywhere else for that matter - as I am allergic to wine.
Which, I must add, has never stopped me having a good time in Paarl. What I like about the place is that it's a genuine working town - albeit with a significant tourist overlay - and has still retained the character of a small regional service centre to the surrounding community. Whilst other wineland towns like Franschoek are pleasant and picturesque, they have been so subsumed by the tourism culture that they have become caricatures of their former selves, and risk being reduced to little more than an assemblage of wine cellars and chi-chi restaurants. Paarl's not like that.
Paarl is home to arguably the most outlandish monument to language anywhere in the world. The phallic Taal (language) Monument is testament to a racial group's defiant pride in their language and culture, and its concrete modernism is splendidly at odds with the Cape Dutch architecture of Paarl and the bald granite of Paarl Rock which looms over the town. It is both an ideal spot to linger for a few days so that you can leisurely enjoy what the town has to offer, and also a spendid base from which to explore the surrounding area. Whichever you decide to do, if you're disappointed by Paarl, you're doing something wrong!