Geography: Parys, 115km south of Johannesburg along the R59, lies on the wide and attractive Vaal River. Being so close to the city has made it a popular weekend destination with some of the tree-covered islands have been developed into holiday resorts.
History: A German surveyor, who was reminded of the French capital city on the river Seine, named the town and also gave French names to two farms in the area. Today Parys is one of the most popular inland holiday destinations and the selection of hotels and campsites makes this Free State town great for family holidays.
Arts and Culture: The town is home to some lovely historical buildings including the Anglican Church built in 1915 of blue granite blocks and thebeautiful Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1899. At the Parys Museum, housed in the old magistrate's office opposite the Town Hall, visitors can take a peek into the history of the town. It was built in 1904 and proclaimed a provincial heritage site in 1986. Visitors can also see the War Memorial unveiled by General Jan Smuts that pays tribute to the servicemen and women of the First World War.
Science and Nature: The unique area in which the town of Parys is situated, had its origin around 2,000-million years ago when a giant meteorite struck the earth just south east of Vredefort. This geological phenomenon, is the result of a meteorite of roughly one cubic kilometre in size, the largest ever to strike the earth, which formed an immediate crater 42km in diameter. The impact forced the lower rock layers to the surface to form a semi-circular mountainous landscape. One of these layers is the gold bearing reef which gave rise to the goldfields of the Witwatersrand and Free State. The entire site, which has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site, is roughly 200km in diameter. There are important conservancy areas around Parys and visitors will find a great variety of interesting flora and fauna. A notable feature of Parys is the islands that are dotted along the Vaal River. A few of these like Golf, Woody and Long, have been developed into holiday resorts. The only way to reach Golf Island is via a suspension bridge that was built in 1919. Situated at the eastern end of Boom Street, it was originally constructed to allow access to the island even when the river was in flood.
Entertainment: The outdoor activities on offer in Parys focus mostly on the river, and water sport is very popular. These activities include swimming, boating and river rafting, while the fishing is very good indeed. There are numerous excellent coffee shops in town, and lovely arts and crafts shops which are perfect for perusing and finding great mementoes.
Sport: Visitors can expend some energy and get an adrenalin fix with some challenging sporting activities like river rafting, abseiling, adventure racing and mountain biking. For those travellers interested in walks there is the 20km Likkewaan Hiking Trail that has an abundance of animal and bird life and passes historical battle sites and fascinating deserted diamond diggings. On Golf Island travellers can play on the18-hole course. There is a clubhouse on the island too where players can play the 19th hole! For those who have come to Parys on a Yamaha or Harley-Davidson, the Dome Motor Cycle Rally held in Parys in April, offers riders a great weekend's entertainment, with loads of prizes to be won.