The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Parys

CBD, Parys

Parys CBD

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Free State

Nestled on the banks of the Vaal River, you can find the laid-back town of Parys. This Free State town is home to 71,000 people from all walks of life and like its French counterpart, many struggling artists call Parys home.

Parys, which is the Afrikaans version of Paris, started as the site of the Kroonstad presbytery’s, part of the Dutch Reformed Church, new parish in 1873. Parys got its name from German surveyor Schilbach, who was part of the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. Schilbach was instructed to develop the layout of this new town and found that the area reminded him of the French Capital. He had hoped that over time, Parys would expand across the Vaal River, just as Paris has developed on either side of the Seine.

If you are an adrenaline junkie, then you should not miss Parys’ annual Dome Adventure Festival, which takes in place in November. This festival has it all: food, music, crafts and of course, adventure! Some of the events include White Water Rodeo (which is freestyle rafting to you and me), trail running, mountain biking and a whole lot more.

Outdoor enthusiasts will rejoice at the number of outdoor activities on offer in Parys. The Vredefort Dome which is the area surrounding the town provides the perfect excuse to embark on an adventure exploring the Free State landscape. The terrain is perfect for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. With the Vaal River being so close, you will also have the chance to try out fly-fishing or white water rafting or gentle rafting if you are not really the adventurous type. Another popular pastime in this town is archery, which is a lot tougher than it looks! So, if you have ever thought that you could give Robin Hood a run for his money, give archery a go during your stay in Parys.

Parys church

Above - Reformed Church building

Photo © Johan van Zyl

If the great outdoors is not your up of tea, then don’t worry. Parys offers an eclectic mix of things to do. Just like Paris, Parys is known for its fashion and art. Many local fashion designers have their studios here where they can create unique, one-of-a-kind gowns perfect for weddings and Matric dances. There are quite a few galleries scattered through the town, so you can take your pick of where to go. One of the Free State’s most acclaimed artist, Cobus Myburgh is exhibited at a gallery in Parys. Myburgh has been commissioned to paint portraits of Jack Nicholson and Charlize Theron. There are so many shops selling antique furniture and other goods that one wonders if there is not a factory nearby that is making them! But seriously, you will be amazed at what you can find in these shops! Park your car and take a walk along Bree Street. Visit the shops or have something to eat or drink at one of the many restaurants along the way. You won’t be disappointed.

During your time in Parys, visitors should stop at Kiki’s Studio. This photography studio offers a photo shoot like no other. It allows you to travel through time by dressing up in an outfit from almost any era for your portrait, making it a unique souvenir of your stay in Parys.

Of course, Parys wouldn’t be Parys if it didn’t have its very own Eiffel Tower! If you are afraid that you will never get to see the French Eiffel Tower, Parys is your backup.

Share your thoughts about Parys

Parys restaurant

Above - There are plenty of restaurants in Parys

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Parys CBD

Above - Another shot of the CBD

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Parys bridge

Above - The footbridge that goes over the Vaal River to one of the islands in Parys

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Parys church

Above - Reformed Church building

Photo © Johan van Zyl

References and further reading

Book of the Road - 4th edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2019 - Page: 136

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 334

Country Life - Issue 263 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 86

Country Life - Issue 284 - Author: - Published: 2020 - Page: 73

Getaway - Vol 29 No 11 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 37

Mooiloop! The Book - Author: SABC 2 - Published: 2016 - Page: 20

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 258

On Route - Explore South Africa region by region - 3rd edition - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 2014 - Page: 374

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 294

Road Tripping South Africa - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2014 - Page: 117

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 126

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Published: 1987 - Page: 105


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