Perpignan (Perpinyà in Catalan) is the capital of the department of Pyrénées-Orientales, the Northern Catalonia part of France and is situated about 15km from the sea. Perpignan is home to about 100,000 people, and has two rivers flowing through it; with the Têt to the north, and the Basse through the centre. This article also covers Argelès-sur-Mer, one of the major seaside resorts in the south of France (300 days of sunshine per year). That old and lively Catalan village is built around its church and museum.
Perpignan sits on the crossroads of the French and Spanish, Catalan and Languedocian cultural spheres. It was the "mainland" capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca for a while and gained further fame as a connection point between France and Spain when the first high-speed standard gauge rail line between the two countries opened from Figueres in 2010 with the missing section onwards via Girona to Barcelona and thence all of Spain opening in 2013. Perpignan gained some questionable fame in the 2020 municipal elections when a member of the far-right RN and former partner of its leader Marine Le Pen, won the mayoral election, making Perpignan the biggest city with a far-right mayor in France.
- Autoroute A9, from north (France) and south (Spain)
- D 914 (ex RN114)
- From Andorra, N116.
- 1 Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport (PGF IATA) (about 6 km north of the city). For getting into the city the easiest is bus 7 [dead link]. A one way ticket was €1.20 in September 2015 [dead link]. The stop closest to the train station is Catalogne.
- From Dublin - Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com)
- Regular line from Lille, Paris Orly,Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Strasbourg: 5 planes/day. (Air France)
- From Nantes - seasonal with Volotea
- From London Stansted airport - daily flights, use Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
- From Birmingham (3 flights a week) with Ryanair
- From Marrakesh - use Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
- From Charleroi , Belgium (3 flights a week), use Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
- 2 Gare de Perpignan. The station held major importance for Salvador Dalí, who proclaimed it "the center of the universe" and made a painting of it. As for travel, it sits along the first and thus far (2021) only standard gauge connection between Spain and France, served by French TGV and Spanish AVE bookable through RENFE and SNCF at rather affordable rates if you book early.
- Eurolines: 04 68 34 11 46 - 10, avenue du Général de Gaulle (close to the railway station); www.eurolines.fr
- German bus-behemoth Flixbus serves Perpignan
The main way to get around in Perpignan (due to its relatively small size) is by foot, but there are buses run by Compagnie Transports that go right through the city centre, and then further out, even going as far as Cabestany and Canet. Driving is also a good way to get about, with lots of underground parking in the city centre, but beware, during the summer and 'tourist season' there will be a lot of traffic, and few parking places left.
There is shared bike system called BIP!. It has around 15 stations, for example at place de Catalogne and next to the train station. A weekly subscription is €1, with the first 30 minutes of each ride being for free. It can be bought at http://wap.bip-perpignan.fr, after which you can retrieve a bike with an ID and the password you provided. Watch out! The text message you receive containing the ID and password has been known to switch those (should be fairly obvious). Also, don't include the leading zeros when entering the ID.
- 1 Perpignan Cathedral (Basilique-Cathédrale de Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Perpignan). The cathedral of St Jean was begun in 1324 and finished in 1509.
- The 13th century castle of the kings of Majorca sits on the high citadel, surrounded by ramparts, reinforced for Louis XI and Charles V, which were updated in the 17th century by Louis XIV's military engineer Vauban.
The festival Sant Joan is not to be missed.
- Musée de l'aviation (Museum of Aviation). Created in 1976 by Mr Noettinger, this museum located at "Mas Palégry" gathers planes, models and hundreds of original pieces. Open from Monday afternoon to Saturday from April 1st to October 31st.
Perpignan is one of France's rugby hotbeds, and boasts professional teams in both rugby codes:
- USA Perpignan. Plays rugby union (15 a side) in France's Top 14 competition, where it is frequently one of the strongest teams. Home ground is Stade Aimé Giral.
- Dragons Catalans. Plays rugby league (13 a side) in Super League, where it is joined by 12 teams from England and one from Wales. Home ground is Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The centre of Perpignan is filled with lots of small boutiques, but there are also large stores such as the department store "Galeries Lafayette", and the small shopping centre "fnac".
- Les Antiquaires, Place Desprès 66000. Founded in 1973, this restaurant located in the heart of a historic neighborhood offers traditional French fare focusing on simplicity and authenticity.
- [dead link] Premiere Classe Perpignan, Chemin Du Mas Palegry Rn9 (42.659715,2.883862), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 13:30-0:00, check-out: 11:00-11:30. €34-47.
- Best Hotel Perpignan, 900, Avenue D'espagne. Check-in: 15:00-22:00, check-out: 7:00-12:00. €45-60.
- Tropic, Route D'Opoul. Check-in: 0:00-0:00, check-out: 11:00-0:00. €35-51.
- Victoria, 57 Avenue Maréchal Joffre. Check-in: 16:00-20:00, check-out: 11:00-11:00. €44-62.
- Hotel Aragon, 17 Avenue Gilbert Brutus. Check-in: 14:00-0:00, check-out: 0:00-11:00. €45-64.
- Comfort Inn Perpignan Aéroport, Avenue Du Languedoc Espace Polygone.. Check-in: 12:00-0:00, check-out: 0:00-12:00. €48-84.
- Campanile Perpignan, 12 Rue Alphonse Laveran, Lot. Porte D'espagne. Check-in: 16:00-23:00, check-out: 0:00-11:00. €49-70.
- myerpignan, Centre of Perpignan, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00-0:00, check-out: 10:00-11:30. €40-75.
- ibis Perpignan Centre, 16 Cours Lazare Escarguel, ☏ . €55-75.
- Arcantis Hotel Mondial, 40 boulevard Clémenceau, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 14:00-0:00, check-out: 0:00-12:00. €53-80.
- Hotel De France, 26 Quai Sadi Carnot. Check-in: 14:00-0:00, check-out: 11:00-12:00. €45-70.
- Hôtel New Christina, 51 Cours Lassus. Check-in: 17:00-0:00, check-out: 0:00-12:00. €60-100.
- Kyriad Perpignan Centre, 8, Boulevard Wilson. Check-in: 16:00-23:00, check-out: 0:00-11:00. €69-95.
- PV-Holidays Port La Nouvelle, ☏ . Located between Narbonne and Perpignan and just a matter of minutes from the Spanish border. Also a car-free residence. Has at least 15km of sandy beaches (1.2km). On-site activities, include two large swimming pools, three tennis courts, table tennis, a multi-sports area, sailing, cycling and a children's playground.
- P&V Résidence Maeva Port Argelès, ☏ . Has private swimming pool, near the yachting marina, between sea and mountain, in the Port Argelès district. Located between two sand beaches
- Villa Duflot, Rond Point Albert Donnezan, Serrat Den Vaquer (you will need a car since it is on the edge of the city among local highways), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM-midnight, check-out: noon. €120-160.
- [formerly dead link] Chateau La Tour Apollinaire, 15 rue Guillaume Apollinaire, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 4PM-midnight, check-out: noon. A luxury oasis with pool set in exotic gardens. €100-150.
Perpignan is a reasonably safe city compared to larger and more populous ones. Being street smart and taking basic precautions should be enough to avoid problems.
However, some parts of the city, namely the district of Saint-Jacques, should be visited with caution, and ideally never on your own. No matter where you go in town, never wear jewellery or other signs of wealth.