Perpignan, France

Day tour around Perpignan uncovers several surprises!

Day tour around Perpignan, that was what I had in mind after spending two nights in Carcassonne in Southern France before heading to Barcelona. Not much was planned but what I know about this city is that the Visa pour l’image, a major photography festival focusing on Photojournalism is held here annually. It was one of those trips wherein I have a faint idea of a place but hoping to be surprised while exploring it, same with what I did in Toulouse. I just went around, following streets and roads, actually hoping it will lead me to something interesting and letting serendipity take its course. But of course, a clear downside is that some important spots are missed.

Perpignan is a medieval city in southwestern France and the capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales département. It was part of the Catalan Kingdom until it was ceded by Spain in 1659 as part of the Treaty of Pyrenees. The old town center is historic and rich in medieval structures. The Le Castillet, an imposing fortification and one of its kind in France, was the main gate of the town and is now a museum. In the center is the walled Palace of the Kings of Majorca who ruled the Kingdom of Majorca in 1276-1349. These are just a few of the historic structures that makes a day tour around Perpignan memorable and in fact walking around is actually better to enjoy the walled city.

Day tour around Perpignan

I checked in at a hotel and went out to explore. My objective was just to go to the town center and take it from there. I just followed the River Basse, a tributary of the bigger River Tet. It’s banks are carefully cultivated and is actually picturesque. Buildings and trees with cafes under the canopy line both sides and farther while a bridge goes over and into the Le Castillet.

Exploring on foot

The fort is imposing and is perhaps the symbol of this city. More cafes at its side. I didn’t enter the museum at that time but just continued and followed the Rue de Castillet. The buildings were just beautiful with details and more details till I arrived at the gothic Basilique-Cathédrale de Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Perpignan, a beautiful edifice built in the 14th century. The facade is really simple and unassuming but when I entered it, I was in awe. Intricate retables, ancient paintings and there’s even the tomb of King Sancho and Bishop Louis Habert de Montmort with stunning and lifelike marble busts atop their tombs.

The Camposanto

The Camposanto at the side of the basilica is a spacious square. This was the former cloister cemetery and a much older chapel at one end still exists. Gargoyles at the sides make the place somewhat eerie but I was more interested at the medieval bas relief.

More discoveries

I continued my walk while passing migrant neighborhoods and where I saw a small fountain with a metal lizard spout. There were two art deco houses too. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is one of the most important spots but unfortunately, I got lost and missed the entrance. I walked around the perimeter walls instead until it got late in the afternoon.

It was already near dusk when I passed by the Place de Loge. It’s the former stock exchange and a beautiful gothic building and I was just admiring the architecture while sitting at a cafe for some bites and a cup of coffee.

An unplanned and unstructured day tour around Perpignan can of course bring in surprises like what I found walking around the city. Although I might have missed some, consequently, I will have reason to come back again.

A day tour around Perpignan

The Place de la Loge originally a stock exchange and consulate built in the 14th century

A day tour around Perpignan

The River Basse passing through the city center

A day tour around Perpignan

Different views of Le Castillet (top left, top right and lower left); lower right, outside the walls of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca

A day tour around Perpignan

Le Castillet, once the city gate and prison of Perpignan built in 1368

A day tour around Perpignan

Top right and top left: tomb of Louis Habert de Montmort, Bishop of Perpignan who died in 1695; Lower right and lower left: tomb of King Sancho of Majorca who died in 1324

A day tour around Perpignan

Buildings near the Cathedral Basilica

A day tour around Perpignan

A day tour around Perpignan brought me to this beautiful art deco house in one of the streets of the city

A day tour around Perpignan

The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Clockwise from top right: Interior of the cathedral, the open Camposanto which used to be the cemetery, one of the altars inside the cathedral, the simple facade of the cathedral

A day tour around Perpignan

The Notre Dame La Real built in the 14th century. Left, facade; center, detail of an altar; right, main altar

A day tour around Perpignan

Structures in one of the streets of Perpignan with a detail of an ornate door at the center

A day tour around Perpignan

Details around Perpignan: left, water fountain; center, door knocker; right, gargoyle at the nave of the Cathedral Basilica

A day tour around Perpignan

Collège Jean Moulin, a secondary school. I just love the facade of this building which I saw while walking around the city.

A day tour around Perpignan

A fountain with caryatids at the roundabout at one end of Rue de la Republique

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

3 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    June 13, 2016 @ 1:02

    A day touring around the city of Perpignan: After two nights in Carcassonne in Southern France, I went to Per… https://t.co/qvUJiCdSi8

  2. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    June 13, 2016 @ 11:04

    Looking back at my brief exploration of #Perpignan, Southern #France

    https://t.co/oi8B0zWQ4D https://t.co/TaKsnbcmob

  3. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    June 13, 2016 @ 11:04

    Looking back at my brief exploration of #Perpignan, Southern #France

    https://t.co/CEhdqPlC49 https://t.co/eyfrMSrqZW

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