Perpignan Tourist Activities
Perpignan Airport is located approximately 5km, or 3 miles northwest of Perpignan city, and is a small French airport handling around 400,000 passengers per annum. A number of tourists, from local and international destinations, pass through the airport, as Perpignan is found in a popular area of France, and has numerous attractions for its visitors. Perpignan Airport is otherwise known as the Perpignan-Rivesaltes Airport, or as the Llabanère Airport, and is recognised by its official code of PGF. It serves as a gateway to Perpignan city, other towns in the Pyrénées-Orientales department and Perpignan attractions, which include several prominent landmarks, interesting museums and religious sights and some beautiful parks and gardens.
The city of Perpignan is the capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France, and is found to the south-east of Toulouse and Carcassonne, and to the south-west of Nimes, Montpellier, Beziers and Narbonne. It was the former capital of the county of Roussillon, and in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, it was the continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca. It is also just forty kilometres from the border of Spain, and many people pass through Perpignan on their way to Figueres, Girona and Barcelona. Perpignan is a coastal city, just 13km from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, popular in many places for swimming and all other kinds of water-related activities. Due to its location, Perpignan has been described by Salvador Dali as the ‘centre of the world’, and is also known as the centre of the Euroregion, within the famous triangle of Montpellier, Toulouse and Barcelona. It may also be a logical link between northern and southern Europe. The metropolitan of Perpignan has an approximate population of 300,000, and is well known as a farm trade centre for wines, and fruits and vegetables. There are factories which specialize in making chocolate, clothing, paper and toys as well. Many people in the city are of Spanish origin, while others represent North Africans.
Perpignan is a vibrant, lively city characterized by many lovely restaurants and interesting shopping areas. It is also a historic city, famous for the times when the kings of Majorca held court there, during the 13th and 14th centuries. Another characteristic of the city is the River Tet, which flows through the heart of Perpignan. It is often considered as one of the most beautiful in southern France, and tourists can enjoy boat trips, or stroll along the footpaths nearby the river banks. Locals and tourists of the city alike enjoy the numerous markets which are held frequently. At the Place de la République, which is one of the oldest and most popular of centres for community life in the city, the Market Republic is held, and the Market Cassanyes is another favourite. There are also several other flea and themed markets, neighbourhood markets and the annual market, with around 500 stalls.
Typical of many French cities, Perpignan is popular for its many wonderful festivals which are mostly annual affairs. The majority of the Perpignan festivals are musical, and include the Ida y Vuelta Festival in June, a mixture of street parties, musical talents and other performances, the TILT Festival in March, featuring all forms of music and dance, from hard-core electro to contemporary, and the Festival de Musique Sacrée, characterised by beautiful liturgical sound written by Gregorian monks, contemporary musicians and a selection of other famous artists. The Perpignan Thursdays street festivals is well attended as well, and the Visa pour l’Image Festival is an international event with some of the biggest names and most powerful images in photo-journalism.
Entertainment venues and theatres in Perpignan include the La Boite Theatre, the Arsenal Club, the Municipal Theatre and the Mediator Club. The La Boite Theatre is considered as one of the premium evening venues of the city, and is located at Boulevard Georges Clemencau. The Municipal Theatre hosts a variety of events within it’s large auditorium, and the Arsenal Club is a music venue open almost every night and with a busy programme of musical events. The Mediator Club is a smaller venue where many of the best regional musical artists perform.
The Le Castillet is perhaps one of the most popular of the historical Perpignan attractions, and is a landmark which was built in the 13th century. It was built as a gateway and a fortress, but was later used as a prison as well. The fortress consists of some dramatic towers, and is of a red brick colour. Within the fortress, is the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires Catalans, or otherwise known as the La Casa Païral, with numerous exhibitions of Catalan artifacts and folkloric items. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is another popular sight, complete with an old throne room, large fireplaces and a square tower. Here there are free guided tours available, in French. Nearby Perpignan, is the Château de Salses (15 miles north of the city centre), and is a fort which once guarded the main road between Spain and France. It was built in 1497 by Ferdinand of Aragón. Just south of Place Gambetta in the oldest part of Perpignan, tourists often visit Camp Santo, the only remaining cloistered cemetery in the country. It features lines of white marble Gothic porticoes, and is quite a fascinating and eerie place to see.
The largest and most impressive cathedral in Perpignan is the St. Jean Cathedral, which was finally completed in 1509, even though it was started back in 1324. Popular Perpignan museums include the Municipal Museum dedicated to the history of the city, and the Museum of Roussillon and Folklore, and impressive establishment dedicated to the social changes and history of the region. The city of Perpignan has a few areas of green as well, two of which are the Perpignan Park and the Pépiniere Park. The second is a beautiful little area of green in the heart of the city, and is close to river. It therefore attracts several creatures of the wild. The Perpignan Park is much larger, and is a short walk from the city centre.
Passengers arriving at Perpignan can find out more details regarding all the Perpignan attractions at the information and tourist desks within the terminal.