It has a population of around 1,400. South of the village is Par Harbour and the wide beach of Par Sands, a further small beach can be found at Spit Point beyond the harbour. Between these two beaches the South West Coast Path is forced to take an inland diversion through the village.
The harbour development saw the expansion of the village which split away from the parish of St Blazey to the north in the mid 19th century. The arrival of the railway from Plymouth in 1859 encouraged further expansion north-eastwards towards Tywardreath. The boundaries between the three parishes are now somewhat indistinct.
A breakwater encloses of water but it has always been tidal with only depth of water so cannot handle the large ocean-going ships seen at nearby Fowey. In 1858 15,154 tons of china clay were shipped out. By 1885 86,325 tons were being handled at Par, but Fowey now had a railway line and handled 114,403. In 1987 the port handled 700,000 tons.
Initially, cargoes were mainly to and from Austen's mines and quarries above St Blazey, later further mines and china clay dries were situated on Par Moors adjacent to the harbour.
Treffry built the Par Canal to serve the harbour by canalising of the river and digging a new river channel slightly to the east. There was an entrance lock to the canal at the harbour, and then two more between there and its terminus at Pontsmill, north of St Blazey. From here inclined planes carried tramways to Fowey Consols mine and Colcerrow quarry. The latter line was expanded northwards and over the Treffry Viaduct and also was eventually brought right into the harbour. Some china clay was carried by the canal, it being loaded into open containers at the works to ease transshipment at Pontsmill.
The harbour developed a range of industrial facilities including a lead smelter with a high chimney known as Par Stack. This was used as a navigation aid by shipping until it was demolished in 1907.
Today china clay is piped to the harbour in slurry form, most of which is dried in large sheds before exporting either from Par or Fowey, the two being linked by a private road. One berth at Par can also load clay slurry into coasting vessels. The harbour also has a rail link that is used to carry away dried clay loaded in rail vans.
The Cornwall Railway opened from Plymouth to Truro on 4 May 1859 when Par railway station was opened to the north-east of Par, the railway then rose up over the tramway on a five arch granite viaduct on its way to St Austell. A siding was opened down to the harbour from the west end of the viaduct on 13 February 1860.
The Cornwall Railway was built to the broad gauge of but the tramway to Luxulyan was to the which led to complex mixed gauge railways in the harbour until the broad gauge was converted on the weekend of 21 May 1892.
The tramway was converted to a railway on 1 June 1874 by the Cornwall Minerals Railway that linked Fowey with Newquay, whose workshops and engine shed were situated on the north side of the village. A passenger station was opened adjacent to these on 20 June 1876 but in 1879 a loop line was built between the two stations and the Cornwall Minerals Railway station was renamed St Blazey to avoid the confusion of two stations with the same name; the workshops and engine shed were then known as St Blazey too. At around this time the Cornwall Railway station was rebuilt, the main building is still in use today. The line from Par to Fowey closed on 1 July 1968 to be converted into the private road linking the two harbours.
Par railway station is still open on the Cornish Main Line from Plymouth to Penzance. It is the site of the junction for the Atlantic Coast Line to Newquay. Par station is the destination of many specially organised charter trains for visitors to the Eden Project, which is located nearby, however it is easier to alight at St Austell as the designated Truronian Eden Bus shuttles between the Eden Project and St Austell Railway Station.
Central Par consists of a one-way system, in a triangular shape. Along this one way system one can find houses, a fish and chips shop, a Scout Hall, entrance to Par Running Track, a public library, a Financial Advice centre, an estate agent, a local jeweller, a Chinese takeaway, several B&B's, a Post Office, a pub, a hairdressers, a letting agency, a laundrette, a greengrocer, a tea room, a beauty salon and 2 corner shops.