(Welcome to Perpignan!)
The sun is here! For weeks he mocked us when we couldn't go out, and now he's back and so is our freedom of movement. So to make you dream a little and help you prepare your vacation, we decided to take you to the south this week.
Capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca
Did you know that? France contains the former continental capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca: Perpignan. Close to the Spanish border, the city has a rich history and a magnificent heritage, come and let us show it to you.
Close to the Pyrenees and the Spanish border, Perpignan is a good destination for the summer! Only 20 minutes by car from the beach, you can easily go and relax and sunbathe by the sea. Fancy a good hike to digest all the ice cream? The mountains are less than an hour away.
Its position and the diversity of its nearby reliefs make Perpignan a good destination for all ages and people. Its wealth of culture and heritage will also delight history buffs, as the city is home to many monuments and museums.
As you have been told, the city is the former continental capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca, but what exactly is it? This ancient Spanish kingdom was ruled by the cousin of King James I of Aragon and existed from the years 1230 until 1715 when it disappeared following the signing of the Nueva Planta decrees, reforming the territorial organization of the Hispanic kingdoms.
This ancient royalty left many traces in the city, including two of the most famous monuments of Perpignan: the Citadel with the Palace of the Kings of Majorca and the Castile.
What should I visit?
Of course, it is impossible to go to Perpignan without passing by the two monuments we have just mentioned. The Citadel and the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca are real must-sees, a sign that the city was an economic, political and cultural centre of the medieval Mediterranean. For 4€ you can visit the palace and if you come between 11am and 3pm, free guided tours are offered!
The Castillet is also an emblem of the city, being the ancient main gate of the Perpignan city walls. You will be able to discover the Casa Pairal museum, telling the local history and ethnography, for 2€, free if you are under 26 years old.
In addition to these two great places, you will be able to discover the many museums of the city and wander around the city centre rich in history. We advise you in particular to visit them by little train which is very complete and offers a good general view of the attractions of the city, you can find the map and practical information on their website.
When to go to Perpignan?
Even if the city is obviously pleasant all year round, we advise you some dates when the city changes to host local events.
St Jordi's Day arrives on April 23rd and is a festival first established in Barcelona in 1926 and then in Perpignan 50 years later. According to the city's tourist office, the festival is linked to St. George of Cappadocia who is said to have liberated the city of Silene, Libya. The princess of Silène was a prisoner of a monster that devoured the children he demanded as a sacrifice. St. George would have killed the animal with a blow of his spear and where the blood of the beast fell, red roses would have bloomed. That is why during the feast it is customary to offer a book and a red rose. Even if the festival had a rather timid start in the city, today it is a big event with many events, all related to literature.
Major event for the town: St Joan's Day (John). Celebrated in many cities on June 24th, it is the summer solstice (the shortest night of the year) but also the feast of the patron saint of Perpignan. We let you imagine what two major festivals gathered on one and the same date can give: flame carriers, sardanas, fireworks, etc.. It is also customary to light a large bonfire at the summit of Canigou, a spectacle not to be missed!
One last great date that we recommend is the procession of the sanch on Good Friday. Although the event comes from a religious festival, it is a rather special and unmissable moment. Procession where people walk around dressed in black or red dress, Perpignan bathes in a unique atmosphere. It is a unique event in France and you have to go to the city to see it.
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