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Perpignan no center of France but lovely food and wine

Don´t speak French..? Well, that´s a bit tricky

French food is great and Perpignan have some chairs you shouldn´t miss out

PERPIGNAN, FRANCE: “We serve the best food and wine”, a woman said as I arrived Deep South of France. If fact, in the Catalan territory between the sea and some mighty mountains. In the most Spanish city in France.

Sardines served in Perpignan

After three-days visit I understand the city of Perpignan belongs to the sunny side of Europe. And the old part is authentic and picturesque. But I don´t really agree with the famous Spanish artist Salvador Dali once described the train station as being “Centre of the Universe”. Dali wasn´t correct, not then and not now – the station isn´t even the centre of Perpignan.
But this “unknown” city has airport and perfect location – situated between the sea and the mountains. Offering beaches, ski slopes in the Pyrenees and 250 days of sunshine by the Mediterranean and is a centre of its own and the history of Spain and France.

Perpignan, center of the city

Catalonia. People of Perpignan say they are living in French Catalonia. It´s just 20km away from the border of Catalonia and Spain and its identity is mixed of both countries – well, mostly French. During the Spanish protesting rally in 2017, 10,000 people in Perpignan demonstrated to separate Catalonia from Spain, and still the red- and yellow-striped Catalan flags are many places along with the words “Pays Catalan” – or Catalan land.
Historic we should remember that Perpignan was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries. Later, this city defended Spain against the French and France against Spain.

Francious Arago -French astronomer, physicist and politician. Arago made important discoveries in the fields of astronomy.

Art and History

For free you can discover heritage through many historic sites, such as the Saint Jean Baptiste Cathedral in gothic style and astonishing dimensions. Dali is the artist most associated with Perpignan and Picasso donated works to a gallery as well as designing a stunning fountain. Sure, this is a city of art and history and where old walls have a story to tell.

Fejoada, Bfrazilian dish served in Perpignan, France

Food and places to eat

They say all French food is good and besides the seafood and Crème Catalan. This city offers some typical dishes you shouldn´t miss out during your visit. Such as pork meat and vegetables cooked in a casserole, and pastry flavoured by seasonal fruits. Surprisingly, I found Barraco do Dende, the best Brazilian restaurant I ever visited throughout Europe. Freshly cocktails, excellent and quality food created on high level by young chef Adrian Gaarder and his kitchen staff from where all mains come at reasonable prices. Try the Brazilian specialities Feijoada and the delicacy Vatapa, a seafood stew. Both classics of Brazilian cuisine. Barraco´s selection of wine is also good value for money.

Picnic on the Spanish side of the border

Cross the border to Spain and taste quality wine

Wine tasting. Visit to estate Terra Remota at the Spanish side of the border is a short journey. A guided tour ends with tasting of wines, and you will probably feel the elegance and richness of the organic wine. You will be served lovely local products; : Iberian ham, terrine of pâté, semi-cured goat’s cheese, Catalonian sausage Perol, salami, artisan bread, tomatoes, olive oil, fruit and coffe. Don´t forget to buy a bottle of Usted, proably the best bottle red delivered by Terra Remota. Usted has smoky notes of bacon, cherry and truffle and perfect for roasted or grilled meat and aged cheese.

Inside the Cathedral in Perpignan

City of Festivals

Perpignan celebrates all the Catalan festivals, such as Sant Jordi, and more or less year-round festivals. On Good Friday you can witness the Sanch Procession with black and red hooded capes and march around the city carrying huge effigies of Jesus and other across their shoulders. Even if you are not religious it is very moving spectacle.
Late August and early September is time for the International Photojournalism Festival with many exhibitions and thousands of visitors. An idea is to combine Perpignan with a visit to Marseille another destination on the French Riviera changed for the better.

Beach and beach-clubs only 10km away from Perpignan

Don´t speak French? If you like to be in touch with locals and don´t speak French, you might have a problem – in general a problem for all of us only speaking English. At the countryside and the mountains there are even less English spoken and you really put your French to the test. But Perpignan has a great beach and beach-clubs only 10km away and plenty of elegant shops in the city centre. All shopkeepers speak at least some English when business in sight.

Lots of Catalans in Perpignan

France and Spain

Surprisingly, Perpignan is not on the list of people´s must-visit destination. Most  visitors arrive here from France and Spain, while the rest of Europe don´t really know much about blooming gardens, narrow streets and open squares. Hopefully they recognise that wines produced in this part of France and Spain are spectacularly good – especially served with foi gras and blue cheese. That is Perpignan at its very best.

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Make it Happen!

Touch Down: Fly to Perpignan from Stansted and Birmingham with Ryanair or Southampton with or Air France from Paris.

Stay: Hotel de la Loge is a 3-star hotel in the central part of the city. Double costs 183 euro for three nights plus 10 euro for breakfast.

Eat: In Perpignan, Casa Sansa is a reference point for bustling Catalan cooking. Duck, chicken, mussels, mutton and pork are often served as a casserole a la catalane, Spanish-style. Wine: If you cannot go without a red, try the Côtes du Roussillon or Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes – both are strong, dry varieties that go well with food.

Play: Bars cluster on and around place de la République and on both banks of the canal. Av du Général Leclerc has a dynamic drinking and nightlife scene. Halles Vauban is also hugely popular, with plenty of congenial bars that attract an eclectic crowd.

Mini Guide: The Pyrénées dominate the skyline and the Canigou is best-known peak where skiing is possible. You can also hop aboard Little Yellow Train which takes a highly scenic route through the mountains. Lots of signs to Tourist Office west of the historical centre

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


  1. Hi,

    We thought we would love Perpignan and all the amazing things to do there. But we were robbed at our hotel overnight behind a locked gate under 8 video cameras. The hotel didn’t help us after this happened. The security company wouldn’t look at the video evidence and the police refused to help us except to file a report. Thousands of dollars of items were stolen from our rental car while we were sleeping.

    The police told us that break-ins and stealing happen every day in Perpignan. We had no idea that crime was rampant in and around Perpignan. Then we looked up the crime statistics on the internet and found out that Perpignan has a crime and corruption rate that is worse than many places in South America. Here is the data: The crime from Nice and Marseille has moved down to the Spanish border and specifically to Perpignan. Thieves target tourists and the police do not investigate these crimes. It is obvious that the thieves know the police will not pursue them, because our possessions were stolen from a locked parking lot with video cameras present.

    Janice Miller, Saratoga Springs, NY


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