Daytrip to Perpignan

When you are in Catalunya, Perpignan is probably the closest French city after crossing the Pyrenees. That’s why we decided to do a daytrip to Perpignan during our stay in Barcelona. After a couple hours driving through the mountains, you arrive at a little Southern city which still has some marks of the neighboring Catalunya.

A historic provincial French town

Mitchy in front of the Castillet
The building in front of which Mitchy poses is the Castillet, now a museum of Catalan art.

The history of Perpignan is far more prestigious than one would think. In the XIIIth century, Perpignan was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, created by the sovereign of Aragon for one of his children. This “golden age” for Perpignan saw it reach its peak in terms of importance, with its population and geographical extension expanding fourfold.

After the black pest decimated the city around 1346 AD, the city never truly regained its past importance. It became instead the frontline of the confrontation between France and Spain on XVth century until it was annexed by France, two centuries later. In the XIXth century, the great military defensive works that protected Perpignan, erected by the French military architect Vauban, were destroyed by the municipality to allow for the expansion of the city. Only some old parts of the ramparts as well as the Castillet (featured above) serve as reminders of the past military importance of this city.

A canal in Perpignan
A canal in Perpignan

Photogenic outdoors

La Bassa in Perpignan
Mitchy posing on the banks of La Bassa, the small canal flowing through the center of Perpignan

Perpignan conserved some very photogenic outdoors, which are excellent backdrops for portraits.

A bike on a pedestrian bridge in Perpignan
A bike on a pedestrian bridge in Perpignan

The city is very nicely decorated and lovely to walk through, as the historic center just spans a very small distance.

Plane tree avenue
A very atmospheric plane tree avenue in Perpignan

This plane trees avenue with its tormented branches provides a great atmospheric feeling, almost haunting. It is also a great backdrop to shoot portraits.

Mitchy in Perpignan
Mitchy before the plane tree lane in Perpignan

Shopping in Perpignan?

For a provincial city, Perpignan has some nice department stores, like Fnac (for books, or gadgets) or Galeries Lafayettes in the center, near the Castillet.

If you go there during the winter sales period, you may find some bargains to be had on clothes or housewares. Sadly, books are seldom if ever on sale. As far as gadgets are concerned, for someone living in Hong Kong, it just does not make sense to go and buy them from the FNAC.

In conclusion, if you are in Barcelona, and if you are self-driven, it might be worth taking a daytrip to Perpignan to see part of the old historic Catalan territory.

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