Nestling in the south eastern tip of Languedoc Roussillon only 60km from Spain is Perpignan, capital of the Pyrenees-Orientales. Its history, interlinked with Spain and Catalonia oozes Catalan charm. Many of the inhabitants are Spanish descendants who fled the Civil War and today it is the third largest Catalan city after Barcelona and Lleida.
Languedoc Roussillon at its most exotic
Lively Street Life
Fine local food and wine
Mediterranean beaches nearby
Fervent rugby following
Sculptor Aristide Maillol
Palais des Rois de Majorque (kings of Majorca)
Casa Pairal museum
for a history of Perpignan
to read about Muscat de Riversaltes wine produced in Perpignan
Direct flights from several budget airlines
This sunny city of palm-lined squares enjoys a lively street life. It is one of the best places in the region to sample the fine local food and wine and the vast Mediterranean sandy beaches are close by. The town enjoys a fervent rugby following with the rugby union side a regular competitor in the European challenge Cup and the Catalan Dragons play in the Super League.
Perpignan’s artistic influence comes from its close connection with the sculptor Aristide Maillol who attended school here and the city had a lasting affect on the Catalan surrealist artist Salvador Dalí who declared the city’s railway station the centre of the Universe. Above the station is a monument in Dali's honour and across the surface of one of the main platforms is painted ‘Perpignan centre du monde’ (Perpignan centre of the world).
Most of Perpignan's historical significance derives from the period when the Majorcan kings held court here. The 13th century palace of the kings of Majorca is surrounded by Vauban's citadel walls but was originally enclosed by olive and fig trees and a hunting reserve. The architecture is influenced by Spanish and Moorish styles with details that some northern chateaux don't manage to capture with the same grace. Take your time and stroll through the delightful courtyard and gardens.
Le Castillet is a 14th-century gateway fortress and all that remains of the old fortified town walls. Inside, the Casa Pairal museum has an interesting collection of Catalan artefacts. Part of its charm derives from the tall tower which you can climb for a good view of the town. On a clear day the ancient Cathar stronghold of Quéribus can be seen in the distance.
To see Perpignan’s prosperous past take a wander through the network of narrow lanes in the Saint-Jean quarter and take in the splendour of the fourteen and fifteenth century mansions and stately homes which make up this atmospheric part of the town. The imposing Cathédrale Saint-Jean was built between 1324 and 1509. Its exterior walls are built from an appealing mix of brick and river stones and it houses an ornate Catalan altarpiece and a 14th-century Rhenish crucifix. For more on Perpignan's history Click Here
Complete with international airport hosting direct flights from several of the budget airlines Perpignan is an ideal holiday destination and access point to the eastern Pyrenees.