How to spend a day in Perpignan
There are plenty of reasons to stay longer in Perpignan but if you’re short on time, here are 8 ways to get the most out of the Pyrénées-Orientales capital, from what to see to where to eat
Enjoy the view from….
The Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a palace and fortress that dominates the city and covers a vast area to the south of the old town. Built in 1276 when King James II of Majorca made Perpignan the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, it was later refortified with red brick walls by Vauban, Louis XIV’s military engineer. The views from the ramparts and the top of the tower over Perpignan’s terracotta rooftops are more than worth the climb, while the surrounding gardens are ideal for a more sedate stroll when you come back down.
Try the local wine at….
Domaine Lafage, where Jean-Marc and Eliane Lafage are following in the footsteps of six generations before them. Both trained as winemakers and gained international experience before returning to France to set up Domaine Lafage, after realising that their own Roussillon land had the potential to be considered among the finest terroirs in the world. Pay a visit to their award-winning vineyard for a wine-tasting session and sample the reds, white and rosés they produce before buying a bottle (or several) to take home with you.
Eat lunch at…..
Le 17, a family-run restaurant in the heart of the old town where local fish is the star ingredient and the dishes are as colourful as they are creative. The flavours and textures are perfectly balanced – roasted hake with aubergine puree and caramelised nuts was a revelation, as was the coffee panacotta with coffee ice cream – and it’s worth a visit if you want fine-dining quality food without breaking the bank. The set three-course menu costs just €24 and with one option for the main course and two each for starters and desserts, you’ll spend less time deliberating and more time enjoying the lovely surroundings of the open-air courtyard.
See an art exhibition at…..
Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud, named after the Perpignan-born painter most famous for his portraits of Louis XIV. Renovated and enlarged in 2017, the museum is housed in two former private mansions – the hôtel Mailly the hôtel Lazerme where artists including Picasso and Chagall stayed numerous times – which have been joined together. Now covering 1,400m2, it boasts a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions and a collection of works that trace the history of Perpignan from the 15th century to the present day.
Eat dinner at…..
La Sous-Préfète, where owners Elise and Julien serve Mediterranean and Catalan-influenced dishes using local produce. Situated in a pedestrianised street in the centre, the restaurant’s menu changes regularly in line with the seasons and while there’s no shortage of fish to choose from there are also plenty of meat-based options to keep the carnivores happy. Although with dishes such as salmon tartare with wasabi, ginger and sesame, and roasted monkfish atop rich ratatouille, they might just be persuaded to swap to fish for the evening.
Escape to the beach at…..
Canet Plage, less than 10km from Perpignan. This large sandy beach is popular with families and has plenty of play areas for children. Other beaches within easy reach of Perpignan include St-Cyprien Plage, Argelès-sur-Mer and Collioure, so you can enjoy the best of city and coastal attractions.
Make a date in your diary….
For Visa pour l’Image, the international festival of photojournalism which takes place every year in Perpignan from the end of August to mid-September. First established in 1989, the festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019 and organises exhibitions and screenings in venues around the city. Open from 10am to 8pm and free to attend, this year’s Visa pour l’Image runs from 31 August to 15 September.
Stay the night at…..
Campanile Perpignan Centre, a three-star hotel conveniently situated in the heart of Perpignan and a great base for exploring the city. Just a five-minute walk from the centre and the St-Jean-Baptiste cathedral, it is also within walking distance of plenty of cafes and restaurants. The décor is stylish and contemporary and the comfortable bedrooms enjoy a view of the old town or the park.
For more visit perpignantourisme.com
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