It is a fabulous city of culture and art, with long held traditions along with a modern way of life. Salvador Dali, the famous painter and renowned surrealist, once referred to Perpignan train station as the world’s center. According to historians he developed many of his brilliant ideas while sat at this station waiting for a train. Let’s take a quick look at the history and traditions of this gem in the Languedoc.
Catalonia starts here
Perpignan is located in the in the historic region Languedoc. As Perpignan is the last city before the Spanish border it is equally both French and Catalan. Maybe it is this which informs so much of its heritage, which dates all the way back to Roman time when the population first arrived.
City with History and Traditions
On the coast of the Med in the western part of France, close to the border of Spain is the Catalan city of Perpignan. It is a place where, throughout history, cultures have converged. It was the hub of clothes manufacturing during the Middle Ages and it has always had a thriving wine export industry, one which has occasionally brought it into conflict with the French government.
Perpignan’s strong tradition of rugby is well known throughout Europe. Regularly competing in major cup competitions, their teams carry the hopes of the city. Failure has not been an option. The rugby team has a fighting spirit that contrasts with the pretty delicate nature of the city itself. Perpignan has proven itself in other sporting fields, for example, with its three time Olympic swimmer.
Bordered by beautiful green grass and winding its way through the centre of the city is a twinkling canal reflecting the medieval buildings. Walk on into the older parts of town and enjoy the many restaurants and trendy shops. The best place to start your exploration is at the grand redbrick Castillet close to the canal.
Fleeing repression in their homelands, many Moroccans and Algerians have found a safe haven in Perpignan. Sadly there have occasionally been some bad feelings between the new comers and the established population.
If visiting this Languedoc City be sure to visit the grand Palais des Rois de Majorque. Some of Europe’s most beautiful gardens are to be found here. There is also a courtyard and a palace. This is a major attraction for tourists to Perpignan, but not the only one.
It needed 200 years of hard work to create the Cathedral of St John. I think anything with that much time invested in it is well worth checking out. Plus, you can go to mass at the same time. The Catholics constructed many of these churches during the middle ages and some have described them as the “8th wonders of the world”.
Perpignan has at the end of the day much to delight all who visit. Be sure to take a couple of days here before visiting everything else that the Languedoc has on offer.
Source Head Photograph: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/perpignan/