Perpignan – The City, the Mediterranean and Catalonia

Perpignan, a small city in the Languedoc of south-west France, is the perfect destination for lovers of the sea, mountains, art, culture and history. With miles of sandy beaches nearby, this is a cultural center not to be missed for those visiting south-west France or northern Spain.

The city of Perpignan is situated in the region of France known as Languedoc-Roussillon. It is right on the Mediterranean coast, not far from the Spanish border, and has the Pyrenees as a stunning backdrop, together with the famous Corbieres wine-growing region. Perpignon is also the most southern City in France.

Perpignan possesses a unique history and is well-known for both for its old architecture and the modern-day tourist industry. It’s also famous as the city whose rail station roof was painted by the artist Salvador Dali, who called the station the “cosmological center of the universe”.

The old region around the town, known formerly as Ruscino, lending its name to the whole region, was occupied from the 6th century BC, being a major trader with Greece. It then fell under control of the Celts from the 2nd century BC. During the middle ages, the town belonged to the counts of Roussillon who made it their base. Later still, it was bequeathed to the King of Aragon in Spain, before being passed to the kingdom of Majorca.

Perpignan is also renowned for being the proud owner of one of the most incredible carillons in the world. In fact it is the only remaining fully operational carillon with an overall range of four octaves dating from the 19th century. The carillon was produced by the French foundry of Amadee Bollee and Sons from the town of Mans, and before being installed in Permignan, was first exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1878 in Paris.

In 1996 the carillon, owned by the state, was fully restored by the French carillon specialists, Herepian. Since then, the carillon players, nominated by Episcopal decree, have been employed to demonstrate the instrument at its best. Since its electrification in 1956, every single day, morning, mid-day and evening, successive sacristans sit before the keyboard and play the prayer for the Angelus.

Perpignan is also the proud owner of four museums: the Museum of Catalan Arts and Popular Traditions, the Museum of Coins and Medals (one of the most important in France), the Museum of Natural History, and the Hyacinthe Rigaud Museum of Painting. All four museums possess magnificent collections.

Interestingly, who would have believed that in a city like Perpignan, urbanised, developed, bustling with people, there still remain magical areas to discover full of nesting birds! For Perpignan is also an encounter with 130 hectares of parks and gardens in the heart of the city, and over 2000 hectares of cultivated land crossed by a river, which conserve an astonishing amount of nature, including a large variety of bird species.

The cuisine of the Perpignan region is of course Catalan – a discovery and gastronomic experience not to be missed by those who aren’t already familiar with it!

So, there you are, the city of Perpignan in all its glory. All that remains is to wish you a happy vacation and many happy encounters with the magnificent city of Perpignan.