Parys, situated on the Vaal River in the northern Free State, just over an hour's drive from Johannesburg, is a small vibrant town that attracts hundreds of out-of-town visitors and tourists over weekends and holiday, many who have bought weekend getaway homes in town and along the Vaal. The attractions that bring so many visitors to the town are the large variety of adventure activities, specialty shops and restaurants that cater for all tastes and needs.
Parys is known as an arty town with quaint decor, antique shops and galleries scattered in little side streets and along Bree Street, the main road through town. The best way to explore Parys is to park your vehicle at the top of town near Pines Antiques and EnStyle or down at the West End near the Blakermaker and Divas and Sheilas and walk. It can take a full day to browse the shops up and down the main road, with many little pubs, restaurants and coffee shops enticing you to enter and taste their offerings.
It is said that there are around sixty restaurants and coffee shops in and around Parys, with some of them situated on the Parys and Vaal De Grace Golf Estates. O's restaurant is in town on the river with the Ferry House on the same premises overlooking the Vaal. Many of the large franchise restaurants have opened in Parys and co-exist comfortably alongside specialty and boutique type coffee shops and restaurants such as Hoi Polloi, en-Style, Plum Tree, Old School Diner, La Vie en Rose, Bella de Jour Cafe, Koffiekan and many others such as De Vette Mossel just outside of town, which is a wonderful beach experience with amazing seafood.
Decor shops and emporiums such as enStyle, Pines Antiques, Le Petite Parys, Platteland, and the art galleries of Coral Fourie, Rooi Granaat, the well known art dealer Riaan van der Berg and the steel art of the Blakermaker are some of the many attractions that are worth a visit. The Parys River Spa offers various packages and is situated close to the river in a tranquil part of Parys and could be the ideal treatment after a few hours of shopping.
The town was founded in 1883 to provide convenient access to a church for the local inhabitants and named by a German land surveyor who took part in the siege of Paris and who served in the Franco-Prussian war. The town reminded him of Paris and was duly given the same name. There are still a few historic buildings in Parys such as the Anglican Church that was built in 1915, the Dutch Reformed Church in 1899 and the Parys Museum, housed in the old magistrate's office opposite the Town Hall. The Palms Hotel is also one of the older buildings that is still standing today. One of the old farmhouses dating back to 1930 is still occupied and in private ownership.
Parys and the stretch of the Vaal River from town into the Vredefort Dome is probably one of the busiest sections of river in South Africa, with many commercial operators offering kayaking, rafting, paddle boarding and water sport activities to individuals, families, groups and team building packages to the corporate market. Abseiling, hiking, 4 x 4 trails, fly fishing, quad biking, berry picking, skydiving, zip lining, horse trails and golf are just a few of the exciting activities that keep visitors wanting to come back for more. Mountain biking is very popular in the area as a vast number of trails are constantly upgraded, added and changed. The Crater Cruise is a well known event that takes place annually attracting thousands of cyclists.
The Parys Dome Festival takes place every year during the first weekend in November with activities in and around Parys such as trail running, the very popular Dragon Boat Race that attracts teams from all over and many activities at the Afridome Show grounds, that is also a very popular venue for horse shows and has hosted the Lippizaners on a few occasions. The Dell Cheetah Breeding Centre and the Otavi Lion Park situated outside Parys welcome visitors on appointment.
Other events and festivals that take place annually is the Rhino Motorbike Rally during September when thousands of motorbike riders converge on Parys for a weekend of fun. This year, 2018, will also see the launch of the Parys Arts Festival that will take place from 29th March till 15th April 2018. The Vredefort Dome Wine Route and Parys Wine Event will be taking place on the 31st March 2018.
The Hartelus market has established itself as a shopping experience with great food, good music, picnics along the banks of the river and quality products. The market takes place every first Saturday of the month at Egweni, next to the bridge where you cross the Vaal to Potchefstroom.
REAL Adventures and X-Factor both operate from Parys and the Kopjeskraal area in the Vredefort Dome. LimeSUP offers stand-up paddle boarding coaching, sales and rentals and is a lot of fun. The annual Forest Run is a trial run not to be missed and allows runners to explore the beautiful farms in the Vredefort Dome that is normally not accessible to the public.
ACCOMMODATION & EVENT FACILITIES.
The Information Centre in town has up-to-date knowledge of the area, registered tour guide information and events and accommodation options available. Parys can boast with the Art Lovers Guest House in town who has won numerous awards by the Tourism Grading Council for their "Excellence in Service". The town offers many guest house, B&B's, hotels and self-catering options, from rustic to five star. There are many wedding venues such as The Nutcracker, Poplars Estate, Vaal De Sioleh, Kiepersol and many more that offer amazing conference and wedding facilities.
Parys is a little gem that you will always return to as many visitors can testify.