Perpignan, with its strategic location lies almost as far south as it is possible to come in France, a city with a long tradition. Even thousands of years ago, the area was inhabited by Iberian people, and the city was under the influence of the Romans for many years, which also had its regional administration in the city.
The first time the city was referred to by its current name, Perpignan, was in the early 900s, in a deed in which the bishop of the area buys a piece of land. Around year 1000 the city went through a rapid development, and the castle, hospitals and the famous Saint Jean Le Vieux church were built. The castle is now gone, but the church still exists and is a popular tourist destination, along with the cathedral in the city.
Eventually the French aristocracy discovered this pearl of a town in France’s south-east coast, and several French kings lived and ruled the city in the early Middle Ages.
When visiting Perpignan is hard not to notice the many cultural element the city has to offer, not least with Spanish interspersed, which comes from Perpignan’s closeness to Spain. The city was under Spanish rule for many years, and it was the capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca from year 1276 to year 1344, a period that is also considered as the city’s heyday. The population was quadrupled, the Saint Jean Baptise cathedral was built and the same was the royal palace Palais des Rois de Majorgue.
Because of the variety of external cultural influences the city has many architectural gems worth visiting. Both the already mentioned churches and palaces, but also the castle Castillet and the vineyards in the area are recommended a visit.
If you choose to visit Perpignan in the spring or early summer, there are several festivals in the city, including Confrontation Film Festival, where films from many categories are presented, often with elements of Catalan filmmakers.