Visit the Palace of the Kings of Majorca
Did you know? Perpignan was the continental capital of the Majorcan kingdom from 1276 to 1349. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a Gothic-style fortress completed in 1309, epitomises the small Mediterranean state's wealth. Its impressive silhouette towers over the city's old town. The oldest part of the palace and its hanging gardens plays host to events and concerts in summer. Go up the Tour de l’Hommage to enjoy views of the Roussillon Plain, Canigou, Albères Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.
Explore Perpignan's other great attractions: the Castillet, the city's iconic gateway (14th century), Campo Santo cloister-cemetery (14th century), the Casa Xanxo (16th century) housing the Heritage Centre and the sumptuous Hôtel Pams (19th century).
Perpignan takes pride in its Catalan background with countless events rooted in the festival schedule. Treat someone to a book and rose for Saint George's Day on April 23rd. Good Friday plays host to an age-old ritual: the La Sanch procession. On June 24th, Saint John the Baptist's Day, summer is celebrated with a fire on the Canigou overlooking the Perpignan landscape! You can always watch a sardana, the traditional Catalan dance symbolising union and fraternity.
RIGAUD ART MUSEUM
Recently extended and fully renovated, the Hyacinthe Rigaud Art Museum is named after the Catalan artist, a painter in King Louis XIV's court. Gothic, baroque and 20th century art collections spread over the 4300m2 exhibition galleries inside the interconnected Hôtel de Bailly and Hôtel de Lazerme. Star attractions include pieces by top modern artists: Maillol, Picasso, Dufy and more made Perpignan a popular go-to for post-war artists.
Perpignan station was proclaimed "el centre del món " (the centre of the world) in 1970 by Salvador Dalí, the father of Surrealism and Catalan icon. According to him the universe, keeping everything in proportion, has a similar structure to Perpignan station!
Maritime heritage to (re)visit
15 mins from Perpignan: the sea, its beaches and… Catalan boats. They are as old as the Mediterranean civilisation. They were an integral part of the coastal landscape until the 60s. You can now see their elegant Latin sails during regattas hosted by amateur associations. On the listed Anse de Paulilles (30 mins from Perpignan), visit the Boat Workshop that keeps an inventory, restores and promotes this Catalan maritime cultural legacy.
Catalan Country, transit landCatalan Country, transit land
40 mins from Perpignan, head to Tautavel: a Prehistory hotspot with human remains that are 450,000 years old. Meet our nomadic ancestors at the Tautavel Museum with some of the best collections in the world. On the way back to Perpignan don't miss the Rivesaltes Camp Memorial: it detained thousands of exiled, deported or displaced people between 1940 and 1964. The Memorial is in a building designed by Rudy Ricciotti depicting this migratory traffic and internment conditions. A very moving place.
The Tautavel Man is the name given to a collection of human fossils discovered in the Caune de l’Arago, a vast cavity overlooking the Verdouble in the Tautavel area.
Perpignan is the capital of the Pyrenees-Orientales, 2 hrs 10 mins from Toulouse and 2hrs from Barcelona.
- By car: on the A9 motorway or national RN20 and RN9 roads.
- By train: from Perpignan station with direct connections to Montpellier, Toulouse, Barcelona. Direct TGV trains from Lille, Paris, Lyon and Madrid.
- By plane: from Perpignan-Rivesaltes Airport.