Perpignan Tourist Attractions

PerpignanPerpignan

Perpignan (Catalan Perpinyà; alt.

Cathedral of St Jean

The Cathedral of St-Jean, dates mainly from the 14th-15th C. but also incorporates elements from the earlier Romanesque church of St-Jean-le-Vieux (the former entrance to the south aisle, the Portail du Christ and the chapel of Notre-Dame dels Correchs, the entrance to which is under the organ gallery). The interior of St-Jean is splendidly decorated: the most notable features are the 16th and 17th C. reredos, the 17th C. high altar of white marble (by Claude Perret) and the font, which is believed to be pre-Romanesque. Outside St-Jean, by the south doorway, is a chapel containing an expressive carved crucifix known as the "Dévot Christ".

Loge de Mer

South of the Castillet, in the center of Perpignan old town, is the Loge de Mer (14th-15th C.), which formerly housed the Exchange and the Maritime Court. It was given its present form in the 16th C., when extensive alterations were carried out.
Diagonally opposite the Loge de Mer is a bronze figure, "Venus", by Aristide Maillol.
Adjoining the Loge de Mer is the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall, 13th-17th C.), with fine wrought-iron gates. In the courtyard is another piece of sculpture by Maillol, "La Méditerranée". The Palais de la Députation dates from the 15th century the Maison Julia, a small palace, from the 14th century.

Perpignan Museums

In Perpignan, south of Loge de Mer, is the Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud, with works by the portrait-painter Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743), paintings by Spanish and Catalan masters of the 14th-16th centuries and pictures by Ingres, Tintoretto and modern artists like Picasso, Maillol, Dufy and Calder.

The Musée d'Histoire Naturelle is devoted mainly to the flora and fauna of southern France.

Address: 16 rue de l'Ange, F-66000 Perpignan, France

Perpignan Citadel

To the south of the old town of Perpignan is the massive citadel, built in the 17th and 18th centuries on a star- shaped plan. From the outer circuit of walls there is a good view of the town.
In the heart of the citadel is the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a fine example of medieval architecture. Built in 1276 as the residence of King Jaime I, it is laid out round a courtyard with Gothic arcades. From the keep there are fine views.
The church of Ste-Marie-la-Réal, which dates from the 14th C., was the parish church of the kings of Majorca. In the first chapel on the right is a fine 15th C. entombment.

Musee d'Avions du Mas Palegry

A variety of aircraft, including a Republic Thunderflash, a Vampire and a full-size Mirage model, are on display at this museum.
A wide variety of model aircrafts, over 250, and decent number of gliders and home-built machines are also to be found in the collection.
Address: Chemin de Villeneuve de la Raho, F-66100 Mas Palegry, France

Perpignan-Roussillon - Mediterranean Festival

This annual festival runs from early July to mid-August and various musical concerts in venues spread out throughout the region. The repertoire includes all types of music.
Address: BP 4, F-13129 Salin de Giraud, France

Surroundings

Fortresse de SalsesFortresse de Salses

Salses-le-Château - Fortresse de Salses

15km/9mi north of Perpignan on the Etang de Leucate is Salses (alt. 12 m/40ft; pop. 2,000). The fort of Salses, built on the Via Domitia, the old Roman road from Narbonne to Spain, commands a narrow passage between the Mediterranean and the hilly hinterland, a route followed by Hannibal during his campaign against Rome. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 15th C. and altered by Vauban in the late 17th C. From the five-story tower there are fine views in all directions.

Canet-Plage, France

East of Perpignan is Canet-Plage, originally a seaside resort frequented by the Perpignanais but now a highly organized holiday and leisure center. South of the town is the Etang de Canet et de St-Nazaire.

St Cyprien-Plage

St-Cyprien-Plage has undergone an intensive process of modernization. It has an interesting museum with works by Matisse, Cézanne, Braque and Miró. A few kilometers inland is the attractive little town of Elne.

Côte des Perpignanais La Salanque

The stretch of coast between the Etang de Leucate in the north and the resort of Argelès-Plage in the south, which is mostly flat, with beaches of fine sand, is known as the Côte des Perpignanais or La Salanque.
Port-Leucate and Port-Barcarès, the most northerly places on this stretch of coast, lie on the narrow spit of land which separates the Etang de Leucate (also known as the Etang de Salses) from the sea. These are two of the new and carefully planned holiday centers, laid out round boating marinas and equipped with every conceivable amenity and facility for entertainment and water sports.
Southeast of Perpignan extends the Côte Vermeille, with a number of seaside resorts.

Cote Vermeille

The Côte Vermeille ("Vermilion Coast") extends from Collioure (southeast of Perpignan) to the Spanish frontier at the Col des Balitres. The chief town is Perpignan. The stretch of coast to the north is in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The Côte Vermeille is rugged and much indented, with a few picturesque little towns, now popular seaside resorts, nestling in the inlets. The name of the area comes from the reddish color of the soil. The road along the Côte Vermeille is an alternative to the inland road to Catalonia and the Costa Brava which crosses the frontier at the Col de Perthus.

Elne

Elne (pop. 6,410), once the see of a bishop, lies on a hill in the Roussillon coastal plain. In the fifth and sixth centuries it was capital of Roussillon, but it declined in importance after the bishop moved to Perpignan in 1602.

Ste Eulalie

The former cathedral of Ste-Eulalie in Côte Vermeille is one of the most beautiful churches in France. Its right-hand tower dates from the 11th C; the left-hand one is modern. The cloister was built in the 12th and 14th centuries; its cluster columns have richly carved capitals. The Museum displays archeological finds from the area.

Argeles-sur-Mer

Argelès-sur-Mer, which lies a little way inland, shares with Argelès-Plage a beautiful sandy beach 6km/4mi long. The two places, set in a landscape of pinewoods and oleanders, are linked by a narrow-gauge railroad, and offer attractive trips into the nearby hills. Argelès-sur-Mur has a small Catalan Museum. The Gothic church (14th C) contains Late Renaissance panel paintings.

Collioure

In the Middle Ages the picturesque seaside resort of Collioure (pop. 2,762) was the port of Perpignan, and in even earlier times it was known to the Phoenicians. With its small harbor and its old castle (12th-17th C) it attracted artists like Matisse, Derain, Braque, Picasso and Dufy. The Château des Templiers was once the summer residence of the kings of Majorca and the queen of Aragon. The fortified church dates from the 17th C; its tower formerly served as a lighthouse. There are remains of the town's walls and ramparts.
From the church a causeway runs out to the former islet of St-Vincent, crowned by a chapel, from which there are fine views of the coast.

Port-Vendres

In a sheltered inlet is Port-Vendres (the Roman Portus Veneris), a seaside resort as well as a fishing and commercial port with a Harbor which is now also used by pleasure boats. In the 17th C it was fortified by Vauban as a naval port, and still preserves the Fort du Fanal. To the east of the town Cap Béar reaches out to sea.

Banyuls-sur-Mer

Banyuls-sur-Mer, situated at the extreme southern end of the Côte Vermeille amid the last foothills of the Pyrenees, is the chief town of the area of Banyuls, which extends from the coast into the Albères range of hills. A well-known seaside resort with a boating harbor, it is also noted for its institute of oceanographical research, which has an interesting aquarium.
Banyuls enjoys an exceptionally sheltered situation in which exotic plants flourish. On the Ile Grosse is a war memorial by the sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), who was born in Banyuls.

Cerbère

The last seaside resort before the Spanish frontier is Cerbère, with large railroad marshalling yards - required because the Spanish railroads have a broader gauge than the rest of Europe, so that it is necessary to change trains here. Southeast of the town is Cap Cerbère, a rugged promontory of black rocks from which there is a fine view of the Spanish coast. The French-Spanish frontier is on the Col des Balitres (173 m/568ft).

Summer Music Festival

This annual festival runs from early July to early September and includes numerous weekly concerts in historic venues throughout the town. Classical music by all the famous composers appears on the festival program.
Address: BP 33, F-66190 Collioure, France
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