Perpignan is the French capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales and is a beautiful medieval town full of wonders. Close to Spain, the city has a deep Catalan heritage and lies between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean Sea. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the summer is long and hot while the winters are clear, as visitors take on the mountains for the ski period.
Salvador Dali, the artist, once said he had a dream that the city station was the center of the world. Today, the station bears the name ‘El Centre Del Mon’. Situated in the center of the Languedoc-Roussillon winemaking region, the city is circled by orchards, farms, and gardens. The Tes River makes the region elegantly green and lush, even though it has an incredibly sunny climate. But is Perpignan worth a visit? Let’s take a look.
>>Also Read: What is Perpignan Famous For
Here are Why Perpignan is Worth Visiting:
Markets and Museums for Everyone
The town is rich in culture and history and its medieval fortified center with the timeless castle gate still there today, has lots of beautiful historical landmarks, charming squares, and twisting streets to explore and have wonderful leisure. Every day of the week, there are markets at various locations around Perpignan.
Few markets specialize in vegetables, fruits, and herbs, all locally grown. Some specialize in books, antiques, and brac. And if you want to shop for clothes, you will be spoiled for choice. There are many clothes in almost all the markets and large flea markets like Marche aux Puces, which opens on Sunday mornings. They sell everything here from engines, plant pots, cheese graters, pajamas to phone accessories, and books.
For art enthusiasts, there are many interesting museums, Perpignan. There is a contemporary art museum that is fascinating and quite avant-garde in the French sense. The museum has a video of two guards in riot costumes tangoing in the stunning museum hall. Another exhibit that visitors will find interesting is the large chocolate-colored Michelin man. If you have the time, you can visit the museum of Natural History of local fauna and flora, the museum of Catalan history, a museum of dolls and another contemporary art museum, and many others.
Full of Festivals and Fountains
The city nestles on some fine canals, marked with camellias and bougainvillea, which twists through the major thoroughfare. It also contains fountains everywhere in parks and squares and surprising corners. Visitors are expected to have a good grasp of how fountains are significant to Perpignan when they check the three full pages in the local tourist guide designed for them.
In the past, fountains were used for drinking water by animals and people, but they now serve ornamental purposes in their place of location. The largest and newest of the fountains are at park Allees Mailol, where large metal flowers flourish. Sometimes, colored lights and music add another edge to these moving springs. A different festival or a few are attached to the place every month.
Thursday nights in July are usually special as Perpignan jolts to life with jugglers and musicians performing in the open air for the Les Jeudis de Perpignan, one of the most popular festivals in the city.
Dipping in the Seas and Wining and Dining
Perpignan is a part of the country that is steeped in winemaking history. It makes many types of quality wines that have traveled across the globe. In the town, a wide variety of grapes grow together, and many producers manufacture their wines from processing grapes. When you visit, ensure that you create time to eat out. Locals pride themselves in their cuisine, and that is why there are many restaurants.
A lot of the restaurants have ‘Plat du Jour’ or dish of the day. In such establishments, you can get a satisfying three-course meal for less than 20 euros. If you are on a budget, you can hardly go wrong with some French cheese, bread, wine, and fruit, and a sunny picnic. You will love the coast here. Canet Plage typifies the seaside fare while St Cyprien is more expensive. In the evening, a lot of families visit the beach when the sea and air are still warm. Try something magical here like seeing the sunset the sky alight at the back of the Pyrénées.
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Checkout the Perpignan Cathedral
Visitors are often advised to visit here first when they arrive at Perpignan. This might be to prepare them for the amazing trip they are about to have. The Perpignan Cathedral, also known as Basilica of Saint John the Baptist of Perpignan is one of France’s national monuments. In 1324, the construction of the cathedral began by King Sancho of Majorca. It was completed in the following century. Built in the Catalan Gothic style, the façade was never finished due to its connection with the Kingdom of Majorca.
In the 1700s, a clock tower and a portico were later added, and the building was restored in the 1800s and 1900s. Be thrilled, as this place also contains several excellent artworks inside, like the Virgin and the Child statue. The cathedral is located at Rue de l’Horloge, 66000 Perpignan.
>>Also Read: Most Beautiful Cathedrals in France
Marvel at the Palais de Rois de Majorque (Palace of the Kings of Majorca)
See the phenomenal palace, thanks to King James II of Majorca. The monarch in 1276 was the brain behind the palace that features a stunning garden, and fortress and looks over the entire city of Perpignan. Tour companies organize guided tours to bring visitors to see parts of the palace like the chapel, dining room, and the throne room. The scenes here are absolutely Insta-worthy. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is located at 4 Rue des Archers, 66000 Perpignan.
Step into the Magnificent Le Castillet
Constructed in 1368 by Guillaume Guitard, this place used to be devised in warding off invaders. It served as a fortress for Perpignan. Le Castillet not only was the city gate, but it also served as a prison until the latter part of the 1800s. Today, it houses contemporary art exhibitions for lovers of art. You can find Le Castillet at 1 boulevard Wilson, 66000 Perpignan.
Relax at Hotel Pams
This graceful mansion was built between 1852 and 1872 by Pierre Bardou, one of JOB Cigarette Paper Company. In the later 1890s, Jules Pams, Bardou’s Son-in-Law, transformed it later being the lover of art that he was. The place showcases the artistic taste of the opulent during the 1900s with its beautiful and embellished interior. Today, the Hotel Pams is owned by the city and is opened to everyone for a visit. Even though admission is free, it is occasionally opened. It is located at 18 Rue Emile Zola, 66000 Perpignan.
Grab a Bite at Le Saint Jean
In the case that you stay close to St. Jean-Baptist Cathedral, you might come across this amazing restaurant in the neighborhood. To experience the inventiveness of dishes, both classic and Catalan-inspired French cuisine, visit Le Saint-Jean. This comfy place has a cozy ambiance that will make you feel calm and satisfied while relishing the taste of their quality, seasonal, local products.
Appreciate the Beautiful Jardin de Sant Vicens
Wind down and get a breath of fresh air in this ravishing garden, situated on Rue Sant Vicens. This place affords a relaxing sight with an impressive array of exotic oleanders, orange trees, and flowers. Apart from the garden of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, this garden is also an excellent destination for lovers of nature. There is also a stall that offers ceramic pots and textiles.
Is Perpignan Worth a Visit? – Summary
The town of Perpignan is great and a beautiful place to visit in the gorgeous South of France. It is an easy place to navigate, and even though it hosts fewer visitors than the neighboring expensive coastal areas, what Perpignan offers is definitely worth experiencing. Talk of vineyards, coastline, sunshine, and food every day, you cannot possibly be bored when you visit Perpignan.
Do you think Perpignan is Worth a Visit? Let us know in the comments below.