PerpignanCopyright: Jorge Franganillo/Flickr
PerpignanLocated in the deep south of France, Perpignan is the capital of the Pyrénées Orientales. Its geographical and cultural identity is turned naturally to Spanish Catalonia since it's a border city, looking out onto the Mediterranean coast and the highest mountains of the French Pyrenees at once. Perpignan is a busy place greatly influenced by Mediterranean cultures and benefiting from 2500 hours of sun per year – no wonder Salvador Dali saw it as the “Centre of the World”.
The City“Catalan Perpignan” used to be the capital of French Catalonia from the 10th to the 17th century and reached its Golden Age as the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca. The main elements of its heritage were created in this pinnacle period, and many of the city's architectural landmarks date back to those times. Due to its geographic position, the city is undoubtedly one of the centres of the Catalan, Roman and Mediterranean cultures - something that is clearly traceable through its language and traditions. Perpignan has always gathered people from different origins, creating an eclectic blend of ethnicities within the city limits. The Palace of Kings de Majorque will give you a glimpse of a Kingdom that once existed in Majorca. The Old Town is well-preserved with its original historic character still intact. There, you will certainly enjoy nice and relaxing walks discovering the city’s roots. Perpignan is also a modern and vibrant city, a great destination warmly welcoming international visitors. The city is always changing and the gourmets will also enjoy its excellent southern gastronomy.
Do & See
There are many things to do and see in Perpignan including cathedrals, castles, thermal springs and museums. For those who fancy active pursuits, the region offers a wide range of challenging outdoor activities – skiing, hiking or nautical sports.
In Perpignan, the food has Catalan influences and is always accompanied by great regional wines. Among the most popular items are snails smothered in garlic, salted smoked hams, and richly stuffed sausages - all to be sampled. Of course, fresh Mediterranean-style seafood is also available. The Old Town is stashed with lively venues. Quai Vauban (beside the canal) attracts those who look for a more romantic evening. Restaurants often offer good value set menus (carte du jour), but reservations may be necessary.
The coffee culture in France is pretty impressive; most people start their day with an espresso shot and finish their lunch with a coffee. Of course, Perpignan is no exception. Many of the cafés offer an outside terrace where you can people-watch and enjoy your fresh coffee.
Bars & Nightlife
Although Perpignan is busier over the summer, there are plenty of great bars for all tastes in a buzzing atmosphere year around. The streets radiating from Place de la Loge offer a higher concentration of bars and clubs than any other part of the town. Discos usually open at 11 pm. During the summertime, the beachfront strip near Canet Plage is very popular with its seasonal venues.
Perpignan is the largest Catalan city (after Barcelona and Lleida) and is situated just outside of Spain. Consequently, the indigenous style of Catalan is greatly reflected in both textiles and pottery, which are among the most popular items for travellers to buy. For fresh produce, visit some of the local markets, and explore the fragrant and flavorful regional wines.