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Things to do in Perpignan, French Catalonia

We take you for a walk through the streets of Perpignan, and we show you what are the things to do in this Catalan city on the French side.

We will show you the things to do in Perpignan during a short stay. This Catalan city is very close to the Spanish border, within France. This is because Catalonia, like the Basque Country, is divided between the two neighboring countries (France and Spain).

And as I said, it was a long weekend, and we went by car. Clearly we weren’t the only ones taking the road and there were many traffic jams. And among so many cars, we ran into a rather peculiar one that turned out to be called: Excalibur.

The Excalibur

Arrival in Perpignan

After nearly 5 hours on the road (which must have been less than 4 coming from Arles, but since there was a lot of traffic, oh well), we arrived. We settled in the hotel (Hotel Du Port, quite cheap and decent) and went for a walk.

I was able to see the huge beach of the place and since it wasn’t very hot yet, I appreciated the beach AS I LIKE IT, that is: empty! I know they call me antisocial, but for me, the beaches look pretty, not clogged with people (my humble opinion).

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What are the things to do in Perpignan?

We started by walking around the historic center of the city.

Castellet of Perpignan

We begin with an image of the Castellet de Perpignan, whose shape is a symbol of the town hall and which was previously a castle and a state prison. Today it houses the Catalan Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions. Before entering the historic center, we find the “low river” and one of its beautiful bridges.

Perpignan belongs to the region of Catalonia, for reasons of wars and others it was on the French side, but they are still Catalans, and it shows. The real name of the city is Perpinya (in Catalan). In addition, everywhere people have stuck the decal of the donkey, symbol of the Catalans.

And as if that were not enough, the street signs are in French and Catalan. Although to remind us that we are in France, we have places like the “Palace of Justice” something very French that is present in every big city.

Republic Square

It is the main square of the center, in it there are several historical buildings, including the town hall.

City hall

Once in the Republic Square, you can see the town hall. The origin of this building dates back to King Pedro II of Aragon, who between 1196 and 1197 foresaw the election of consuls in charge of administering the city. Because of this, a first Town Hall was erected, probably in the form of a parlour. From the thirteenth century did it take the form that we can see today. Although not completely, during its history the building continued to have modifications.

In its patio we can see a sculpture of a girl who is seemingly very pensive, it is the sculpture called The Mediterranean, although in reality it is a bronze copy. The original marble sculpture, made by the artist Maillol, is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Lodge of the sea

And you shouldn’t leave the square, moreover, without admiring this Catalan Gothic-style building, which was built between the 14th and 16th centuries. During the Middle Ages, this building was the civic center of the city, and it housed several important administrative offices. Today the tourist office is located there.

Cathedral of Perpignan

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Perpignan has a Gothic style and was built between 1324 and 1509. Depending on where you see it, it may not attract much attention. But if you like the gothic style, we advise you to enter.

Because inside you will find huge stained-glass windows and a unique large nave (80 meters long, 18 meters wide, 26 meters high). Inside the cathedral is the tomb of Sancho I de Mallorca, King of Mallorca.

House Xanxo

One of the places to visit is Casa Xanxo, which is an old house that has been preserved and can be visited at the best price, that is: free.

Upon entering, the first thing we saw was the patio, it was gorgeous. This type of structure, in which the facade is flat and does not show us anything that is inside, can be seen throughout the city. Another example of this type of palace is the Pams hotel palace (which is not really a hotel, what happens is that in France many buildings are called that, for example Hotel de Ville is the town hall and Hotel Dieu is the hospital).

Once inside Casa Xanxo, they gave us a mini guided tour of the place (wow, and it was free). This house has the particularity that it is preserved just as it was in his youth, it belonged to Mr. Xanxo (pronounced Chancho) who was a prosperous merchant. At that time, he was not mega rich, but he had a comfortable position. It can be seen, since not everyone can make pillars with their faces carved on them.

But what most attracts the attention of the house is the entrance with representations that evoke the seven deadly sins, in a very explicit way:

Capital sins

After making the visit, I was already hungry, so we went to eat. Unfortunately, being Sunday, not many places were open. We found a restaurant that wasn’t bad, but it was too expensive, and our budget was only enough for some bruschettas that left me hungry.

Palace of the Kings of Majorca

Welcome to one of the most important monuments of Perpignan. It belonged to the kings of Mallorca, when this city was the capital of said kingdom. When King Jaime III died, his possessions became part of the kingdom of Aragon and the kingdom of Mallorca ended there. The residence became the secondary of another kingdom.

From the palace gardens, you have a very nice view of the city.

Fun fact: the queen had her own bedroom and CHAPEL. The king also, the one that can be seen in the photo, was the king’s chapel.

The sea

Perpignan itself does not have access to the sea, but neighboring Canet-en-Roussillon does. As our hotel was there we had the opportunity to see the sea, as I said above, empty as I like. If you are passing through Perpignan, do not forget to take a walk to take advantage of the Mediterranean waves.

And, as always, we couldn’t leave without taking a picture of a city sewer:

In conclusion, there are many things to do in Perpignan. From exploring the city’s history to enjoying the food and wine, there is something for everyone.

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Olga Grijalva Alvarez

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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