With the beauty of the Pyrenees and the beaches of southern France on its doorstep, Perpignan also offers a chance to relax in a stunning city bursting with historical and cultural appeal.
Walking tours of the old town are a must, with the 14th century splendour of St Jean’s Cathedral, the Palace of the Kings of Majorca and the superb Romanesque Sculpture Center all vying for your attention. And the city is a major cultural center as well. Sample a unique cuisine which straddles French and Spanish styles, peruse the creations of local artisans at the city market or watch the constant spectacle of street musicians serenading visitors.
Outside the town, visitors can choose their outdoor entertainment. Either head up into the stunning surroundings of the Pyrenees Mountains or travel the 9 mile journey to the world famous beaches of France’s Mediterranean coast.
In the mountains around Perpignan, the months between December and March bring plenty of snow, and skiing is a major attraction. At other times, take a rental car and explore innumerable quaint villages and dramatically situated castles, hike, climb or even hang-glide over the tranquil valleys.
On the coast, the Languedoc offers a huge selection of pristine beaches. Head to Espiguette to wander along miles of unspoilt sand dunes and find a secluded spot away from the tourist throngs. Or visit La Franqui where you can wind-surf and paddle on the lake or swim and snorkel in the ocean. Wherever you go, beach bars will serve up local seafood and drinks, and the famously hospitable locals will make you feel right at home.
For those seeking an urban escape, the drive from Perpignan to Barcelona or Bordeaux is easily manageable for day trips, and there will be unexpected delights along the way to enjoy as well.
This is the kind of destination which can be visited at almost any time of year. The winter months (December to March) can be wetter and chilly, but this is more than made up for by the prospect of alpine sports like skiing and snowboarding. Between June and August, there is no better place to be than Perpignan, with the beach beckoning. But to see the town’s attractions and have outdoor options too, try May or September.
The best way to experience downtown Perpignan is by foot or by bike – so be sure to spend some time touring the markets, restaurants and churches without the need for a car. However, to reach the coast or the hills, a rental car is a sensible option (although traffic can be heavy in peak season). Visitors can easily reach Barcelona by train, making a day trip simple to organise.