Surrounded by the peaks of Pyrenees, Perpignan is a destination renowned for its natural beauty. This French metropolis is the capital of the department of Pyrenees-Orientales, the Northern Catalonia part of France. Situated near the Mediterranean coast and next to the border of Spain, Perpignan is a classic blend of the old and the new with historical wonders etched in every corner of the city but at the same time keeping up with the times and showcasing development, modernity and urbanization.
Designed in the 13th century, the Palace of Kings of Majorca is one of the most impressive representations of medieval city and military architecture in southern France. Be sure to explore the main courtyard and its assortment of Gothic buildings. One of the top attractions of Perpignan is St. Jean-baptist Cathedral. Though the construction started in 1324, it was not finished until 1509. Topped by a Provencal wrought-iron bell cage, the cathedral features a flat facade of red brick and smooth, zigzagging river stones.
Do take some time out to actually explore the countryside. There are several attractions and villages that are well worth a look. One of them is Elne, and its 2,700-year old citadel. Riversaltes is well-known for its vineyards and Saint Esteve is renowned for its gorgeous landscape at the edge of the Pyrenees' chain. Catch a glimpse of the Loge de Mer (Town Hall). It is one of the town's finest and most ancient historical sites. Created out of river stones, it is an example of the quintessential architecture of the region. It used to serve as a stock exchange and the maritime consulate, as represented by the iron vessel.
Craving some peace and quiet? Then head over to the garden on Rue Sant Vicens. It is a mesmerizing place with exotic flowers, orange trees and oleanders. It is a tranquil green oasis where one can spend hours exploring. One can even purchase ceramic pots and textiles from here. Perched at the old and the modern metropolis, this gorgeous castle (Castillet) was also a prision once upon a time, apart from being a city gate. Constructed by Guillame Gitard in the 14th century, today, it not only serves as an architectural monument but is also home to a plethora of temporary exhibitions.
Drop by at the Casa Xanxo. This gorgeous private mansion is housed in the center of the Old Town. It is one of the Gothic homes conserved in Perpignan, showcased by the illustration of the seven deadly sins. Do drop by at the Natural History Museum which exhibits rare and/or extinct animals of the Eastern Pyrenees including varied bird species, great mammalians and African ethnological objects.
When it comes to shopping, the centre of Perpignan is brimming with a plethora of small boutiques but there are enough huge department stores as well. For fresh produce, do visit a few of the local markets and do procure the fragrant and tasty regional wines. As for cuisine, drop by at any of the restaurants dotted in the city to dig into local fare.
The stay options of Perpignan is abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental apartments and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on the budget and taste.
Perpignan experiences a typical Mediterranean climate. The best time to visit would be spring and autumn for the temperatures are nice and pleasant.