A southern French city located near Spain’s border and the Mediterranean coast, Perpignan was originally the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca back in the 13th century and features significant and Catalan influence. It is a busy and thriving place with lots of Mediterranean influence, and its train station was even featured in a famous painting by Salvador Dali, who referred to it as the “center of the universe” after experiencing a unique vision while there. From medieval palaces and cathedrals to various museums, there is much to see and do during your visit to Perpignan.
A beautiful place to stroll around is Jardin de Sant-Vicens, a beautiful garden located within walking distance from major attractions that features exotic flowers, oleanders and orange trees. You can also shop for textiles and ceramic pots in a shop located on the grounds. Visit the Natural History Museum, which features a permanent exhibition of rare and extinct animals of the Eastern Pyrenees including different bird species and an Egyptian mummy. The Doll Museum is another interesting place that houses hundreds of dolls, along with posters and photos of artists with celebrities. The Palace of Kings of Majorca was built in the 13th century and is one of the most incredible examples of medieval civil and military architecture in southern France. Casa Xanxo is a private mansion in the heart of Old Town and is one of the few Gothic houses conserved in Perpignan that also features an illustration of the seven deadly sins. Other points of interest include the countryside village of Elne and its 2,700-year-old citadel, Rivesaltes which is known for its vineyards, and Saint Esteve which has a beautiful landscape at the edge of the Pyrenees’ chain.
Narbonne is just under an hour north of Perpignan, and is known for its seaside resort, cathedral, and beautiful museums. There is also an underground labyrinth that houses ancient warehouses left over from its Roman Port days. Another great day trip is a visit to Collioure, a port on the Mediterranean Sea that is just a few kilometers north of the Spanish border. It only takes 27 minutes to get to Collioure from Perpignan by car. If you’re looking to travel to Barcelona, there is a train from Perpignan that only takes two hours to get to Spain.
There are many great neighborhoods and places to stay in when you visit Perpignan. The Sant-Vicens neighborhood has many great shops and restaurants, and is a half-hour walk to the city center. Central Perpignan is a bit more urban with apartment buildings, and has a nice central fountain, cafes, the river and castle. Canet is the seaside neighboring area that is a half-hour from the city center by bus and has beach access, an aquarium and nice bakeries. Cabestany is a cute village just outside of Perpignan that is a half hour from the city center by bus and during Christmas, this town lights up with decorations and numerous performances.
A great way to explore the city is by bicycle, and there are even guided bike tours that are offered of the city. The other primary methods of transportation around Perpignan are buses and trains. Bus routes run all around the city and connect to the center of town, and there is the Perpignan Railway Station located on the western side of the city. There are also long-distance train connections to Barcelona as well as other distant cities.
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