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Perpignan: A French spirit with Spanish Vibes

Updated: 5 days ago


The court yard of Hotel Pams

It was the end of March, and I wanted to explore a city I had yet to visit. However, I once sat there for a coffee break before heading to Barcelona, Spain.

Perpignan, a city with a poetic name , was my destination.

My wish was visiting a new city and immersing myself in a place with a Mediterranean flair and a rich cultural heritage. Perpignan piqued my curiosity with its unique blend of old and new. And also being a close neighbor to Spain.


As I dragged my suitcase down the street from the train station, a local, with a warm smile, asked, 'Do you need some recommendations?' This friendly gesture filled me with anticipation for the adventures that awaited me in Perpignan.

That was my starting point in a city with many friendly people living there, not just sunny weather and palms trees.

I enjoyed the warm sunlight as I came from Paris, which was still cold and rainy.



A theater or a spaceship? le théâtre de l'Archipel

The first building I noticed was 'Le Théâtre de l'Archipel,' a masterpiece designed by Jean Nouvel. Suppose you're a fan of the awe-inspiring Philharmonie in Paris, also designed by Nouvel. In that case, you'll be captivated by this unusual structure. It's like a red spaceship suspended for takeoff, adding a touch of wonder to the city's skyline.

It was a reassuring start because whenever I see an impressive theater building, I am already convinced.

Perpignan is an adventurous city because you really do not know what is waiting for you around the corner. The old mix with the new, and there is so much to see.





The Castillet is the first building that symbolizes the old town; it reminds us that Perpignan was once a fortified medieval city. Behind it, I started my promenade through the quaint streets.



 

I thoroughly enjoyed walking in the paths with their bright, fruity colours. Still, there are significant spots that you should visit to experience the city's spirit.

 

Even though I knew I was in France, some important sites made me think I was in Spain, as it is so close, and the history is packed with prints and influences.

 

The Palace of Kings of Majorque





It is central and in the heart of the city. In the medieval era, King Jerques 1er, the king of Aragon, constructed it as a gift for his son. It was the center of the ephemeral time of the Majorque kingdom that lasted nearly a century between 1276 and 1344

The domain is vast and very impressive. The structure and the sculptures were created in a Gothic style.



The museum Hyacinthe Rigaud




The museum's name is based on Rigaud, a notorious Catalan painter who later became French. The museum embodied a Spanish style that reminded me of the ones I visited in Barcelone and Palma de Majorca.

It has a rich collection of art masterpieces and paintings of Rigaud himself.

The paintings will touch a large audience because they mix Baroque, gothic, modern, Spanish, and French influences with Flemish and Italian influences. I was surrounded by beautiful drawings and sculptures, and the time flew. The museum is in two unique "hotels particuliers," which makes staying there even more relaxing.

Whoever reads my reviews knows how important coffee is to me. I sensed coffee's delicious scents in the museum's courtyard. I was thrilled to discover a coffee roaster in front of the museum. "La Cafetière Catalane" in Ange street.




As you walk in the city you will probably hit the square Rigaud which is a tribute to the painter Rigaud who was from Perpignan,




A jewel, a place I didn't want to leave. Especially its garden. Hotel Pams was created by the founder of cigarette paper, the family Bardou.

With the ravishing style of Art Nouveau, the refined masterpieces of the painter Paul Gervais, Romanticism, sensuality, and the paradise-looking and feeling garden, with the beautiful sculptures. It is admirable but also serein.







I visited the church Notre Dame de la Real at night, which was absorbed with a mysterious light. I loved how it was open and inviting. When you often wish to visit a church at night, the door is closed, but here in Perpignan, it is waiting for visitors. It is exquisite and ornamental inside. It is right beside the Palace of the Kings of Majorque.

The weather was fine at night, so I strolled through the streets. I was intrigued to find many art paintings everywhere in the old city center.







The Palace of Consul is where the town hall is, a place you should check.

I loved the "Gigantes." Two enormous puppets in the entrance hall represent a queen and a king of Majorque.

It reminded me of seeing a parade of these giant figures in Barcelone. The foyer inside has romantic paintings.






 

Perpignan is a lively, musical city.

One of the exciting places I visited in the town is the "Casa Musicale," founded in 1996 by the City of Perpignan and the cultural ministry. It is an open space for various workshops in dance and music for people who want to practice and learn like professionals.



In the afternoon, I saw a group of youngsters dancing hip hop and rap as a professional guitarist playing flamenco.

This unique and vibrant place also hosts music and dance festivals yearly. If you are considering visiting Perpignan, check out their program.



If you love street art, which gives the edgy side of the city, in Perpignan there are plenty of them and they are very creative. You will bump into them in many places and corners.






 

Gypsie Times -Quarter Saint Jacques.




Near the Casa Musical is an intriguing Quarter where the Gypsies live. I felt like I was on a set of a movie, perhaps "Time of the Gypsies," directed by Amir Koustrica, with a different and more delicate version. Here in Perpignan, the Gypsies seem totally integrated and live peacefully in their colorful neighborhood. At the balconies, clothes were hanging and drying.

A woman eating an apple was watching me taking photos.

I told her I enjoy exploring Perpignan and that I am passionate about traveling. She smiled with understanding. At that moment, a cat sneaked behind the house.

Why did I remember it particularly? It was this sensation of being not in France but somewhere else, perhaps at another time, another life? a déjà vu?


 You don't need to make an effort to enjoy this lovely city. At night, the city center is lively and festive. I thought I was in Barcelone when I saw the people eating outside and enjoying a glass of local wine or tapas.

Streets like Rue de Theatre or Rue des Anges are great for walking during the day and night.

You can't get lost in Perpignan and it is actually quite a pleasure to wander in the heart of the city. Tender and audacious, it will immerse you with Spanish and French ambiances and they blend entirely.



Thank you very much for the excellent guide Nelly Villeneuve that showed me the city, explained to me so many interesting things about Perpignan




reportage and photos by Niva Josef

 

Recommendations




If you wish to eat a delicious local food in a restaurant that is both a flamboyant decoration,that puts you straightway in the Perpignan atmosphere, you should go to Casa Sansa. It is also a very interesting place, you can easily talk to the dinners guests around you, and spent there few hours. It was also great to step out from the restaurant to the picturesque street, animated and festive. It felt like I was in a Spanish vibrant town.




For lunch you simply can't miss the experience of the restaurant " Au Goustous" in rue de Theatre. It is such a pearl. Amazing dishes, the vegetarians will be also delighted.

The café gourmand was so tasty and yummy.

we all love good food encounter in a city we visit, so these two recommandations will please any one who goes to Perpignan,

In the city there are great coffee shops, wine bars, the wine was really good where ever I drank.



I stayed for one night in Hotel Mondial Perpignan. Very comfortable, Also is right beside the city center.

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Amazing review, thanks

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enjoyable article, plus very nice photos of Perpignan.

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