Like many towns in the Cape Winelands, Paarl is home to a prosperous community, with many well maintained and attractive Cape Dutch houses, beautiful gardens and streets lined with old oak trees.
Paarl boasts a unique cultural attraction: it was here that the foundations of the Afrikaans language were laid by the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners. The "Afrikaanse Taalmonument" (monument to the Afrikaans language) on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum and the Afrikaans Language Route through Dal Josaphat are memorials to this achievement.
The former headquarters of the wine industry in South Africa is also situated here.: This was the famous "Co-operative Wine Growers' Association" (better known by its Afrikaans initials KWV). The KWV became a South African institution that has acquired an international reputation based on its unique achievements and its imprint of quality on the local wine industry. Over the past decade, however, KWV became a completely profit-driven private company that has no administrative role anymore. (KWV's main wine production and maturation facilities are on its Paarl premises, while its brandy production takes place in Worcester and grape juice concentrate production in Upington in the Northern Cape).
The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings (17-19th Century), scenic drives, hiking trails and the Paarl wine route, with its many wine tasting opportunities (including vintages from the famous Nederburg estate) and excellent restaurants.
The Paarl Rock itself is these days a popular Mecca for rock climbers. However, in the pioneering period of rock climbing in South Africa, the mountain was ignored or shunned because its steep faces were so smooth and unfissured that climbers could find no place to attach "runners" or anchor points for belays. The first climbing routes up the rock were pioneered in 1969 by J.W.Marchant and G. Athiros, the former from the University of Cape Town Mountain and Ski Club. Soon afterwards Marchant and John Knight established a few routes on which the rope was run out for 100 m (330 ft) or more with no protection whatsoever. This was in the days before bolting was possible and these achievements are still held in high regard today. Nowadays protection is afforded by bolts in the granite and there are on Paarl Rock a few dozen spectacular, beautiful and very hard routes that attract the best climbers of the current generation. (All of these climbs remain dangerous for the inexperienced.) A guide book for these routes was written in 2006 by Stewart & Scott Noy who lived at the foot of the mountain and were developing many of the new routes at the time.
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