Perpignan – or at least the waiting room at its station – was declared by Salvador Dali to be the centre of the Universe
It may not be the centre of yours, but this friendly and chic South-eastern French town is handy not only for the beaches of the eastern Mediterranean, but for the Pyrenees and Spain beyond.
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Pottery and textiles are Perpignan’s real specialities, and you’ll find both in abundance at Catalan-themed store Centre Sant-Vicens (Rue Sant-Vicens). Rue Paratilla, an alluring little street packed with delis, grocers and café-bars, is serious foodie heaven – although Comtesse du Barry (19 rue de l’Ange) stocks the best range of locally produced artisan foods. Pick up a sweet-smelling souvenir at L’Occitane en Provence (23 rue de l’Ange), then wander down to Rue des Trois Journées to browse the selection of high-end fashion boutiques. Bookshop Fnac (Espace Dames de France, Place de Catalogne) and interior design store Maison Quinta (3 rue Grande des Fabriques) are also worth a look in.
Food & Drink
French and Catalan influences collide in Perpignan to create a unique style of cuisine. Le Figuier (7 rue du Figuier) offers one of the best fusion experiences in the city – dishes are chalked up on a blackboard and produced with true culinary panache. Restaurant de la Villa Duflot (Rond Point Albert Donnezan) stocks over 150 wine varieties in its cellar, and the poolside dining area makes it one of the most romantic eateries in Perpignan. Stunning vaulted restaurant Casa Sansa (2 rue des Fabriques Nadal) specialises in creative Catalan cuisine, while the serene La Galinette (23 rue Jean-Payra) serves up locally caught fish combined with produce from its own garden.
Ida Y Vuelta
This world-famous folk festival runs for four days at the beginning of June and showcases an impressive cast of international artists. An emphasis on up-and-coming talent makes it a good place to see the rising stars of the folk scene.
Festival International de Carillon de Perpignan
The city centre reverberates to a cacophony of bell ringing during this annual musical festival. The climax is a concert performed by regional bell ringers against the backdrop of stunning Perpignan Cathedral.
Visa pour l’Image
Celebrating the art of photojournalism, this visually spectacular festival highlights the world’s top photographic talent. A series of screenings and exhibitions focus on subjects as diverse as nature, people, society, religion and war.
Every autumn, the centre of Perpignan reverts to its medieval roots with a weekend of historical celebrations. Discover how people in the Middle Ages made stained glass and weapons; sample a selection of archaic dishes; and listen to music performed by medieval minstrels.
This long-running event was founded in 1759 as a produce market, and has grown to become one of the region’s biggest fairs. Attractions include a circus, fairground rides, food stalls and live entertainment.
The centre of Perpignan is dominated by upmarket chains, with the minimalist Suite Novotel Perpignan Centre (34 avenue Général Leclerc) and luxurious Mercure Perpignan Centre (5-5 bis cours Palmarole) taking centre stage. A short walk from the city centre, Château La Tour Apollinaire (15 rue Guillaume Apollinaire) is a charming B&B housed in an eccentric Italian-Gothic villa – the one-acre garden and heated outdoor pool make it feel more like a country mansion than a townhouse. Traditional Hôtel La Loge (1 rue des Fabriques D'en Nabot) offers no-frills accommodation close to the city’s famous cathedral.