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Parys is a city in Free State. It is a popular destination for visitors because of its location on the Vaal River and its proximity to Johannesburg (less than an hour's drive to the south). A lot of the tourists are weekend visitors from Johannesburg and Pretoria. The antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and adventure activities are all part of Parys' appeal.


Dutch Reformed Church

Parys has a population of 11,000 (2011). The most spoken language is Sesotho. The area of Parys includes the two townships Tumahole and Schonkenville.

Parys sits in the largest known impact crater, Vredefort Dome, a World Heritage site since 2005.

The name of the town is the Afrikaans translation of Paris. The name was given by a German surveyor named Schilbach who had participated in the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. The location next to the Vaal reminded him of Paris on the River Seine.

Get in[edit]

The best way to get to Parys is by car. The R59 goes through town.

From Johannesburg

  • Take the N1 South to Bloemfontein.
  • Just after crossing the Vaal River and before the Vaal toll plaza take the R59 exit.
  • Turn right and follow the R59 for 20 km in to Parys

From Ekurhuleni

  • Take the R59 South.
  • Continue to Parys.

Get around[edit]

Parys is a small town so walking or cycling are perfect for getting around. If your accommodation is on the outskirts of town or outside of Parys at one of the various lodges you will need a car. Also note that some of the lodges and resorts outside of town are on dirt roads.


Parys Suspension Bridge

The small Eiffel Tower in the main street is popular for photo opportunities in the parking area of the local Parys information office.

The suspension bridge is another popular photo spot, at the northern end of Boom street. The bridge was constructed in 1918 to connect the Parys country club, which is on an island, to the mainland.

The whole of the main street (Breë Street) has restaurants, pubs, antique shops, coffee shops and art galleries worth visiting. The best thing to do is walk the length of this street.

Many artists have settled in the town and many interesting shops and attractions make it the ideal breakaway close to Gauteng and big centres. The Town Hall was built in the 1930s in the Art Deco Style, after the original town hall was destroyed by a fire.

Another key tourism landmark is the Smilin Thru Resort, named after the B52 Bomber the first owner of the resort flew in World War II. The Smilin Thru Resort is the best fishing spot on the Vaal River and is infamous for the Black Carp.

Stonehenge in Africa ,on the banks of the Vaal River, is well known as a holiday destination, venue and also for the massive granite blocks used to build arches and entranceways.

  • 1 Parys Museum. Small regional history museum.


Old Magistrates Office

Activities in and around Parys include visiting antique shops, river rafting, abseiling, 4x4 routes, mountain biking and game drives.



Options for eating in Parys includes restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.



Accommodation options include hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, camping, backpackers hostels and lodges in and around Parys.

  • Casa Cara Guesthouse
  • Roamer's Rest


Go next[edit]

Places to go next from Parys include Potchefstroom which is a very short drive (30 minutes) to the east.

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