I did not expect it, but Perpignan was a very good surprise. Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees, the prefecture of Pyrénées-Orientales has many tourist attractions. This is not just the gateway to discover the pearls of the coast as Collioure or the inescapable hinterland as Céret or Villefranche-de-Conflent. With its historical heritage and charming old center, Perpignan is worth a stop for a day or two, to enjoy its pleasant atmosphere in the shade of plane trees and palm trees.
The many red and gold flags hanging from the colorful facades of the city highlight its strong Catalan identity: here we are in French Catalonia and the cultural change is at the rendezvous. Here are the must-see sites to visit in Perpignan and all the good addresses (12 in total !!) that I could find there.
What to see and visit in Perpignan
The Castillet is the emblem of Perpignan. This 14th century fortified gate marks the entrance to the old city center. You can climb to the top of the keep and its 142 steps to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, but we still have a better view from the terrace of Galeries Lafayettes, just in front of the Castillet (plus it’s free and we can take the elevator …).
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
Southern Gothic style, the Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste was built between the fourt and seventeenth century. Longer than 70m, the nave is quite impressive. The visit not to be missed is that of Campo Santo, just behind the cathedral, passing on the right. It is the only cloister-cemetery in France. The immense, very bare courtyard surrounded by white marble gothic arches is a real haven of peace in the city center.
The Sea Lodge and the Town Hall
The Place de la Loge is the historic heart of the old town. The Sea Lodge, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, built in the 14th century in flamboyant Gothic style, was once the maritime court. When I went to Perpignan, the building was in full work because this is where will be installed the new tourist office of the city. Next door is the Town Hall, a beautiful building dating from the 13th century. The major asset is the patio with a sculpture by Aristide Maillol, The Mediterranean, in its center.