Still not sure about what to visit next? Here's an idea. About 30 km from the border with the Pyrenees, and just over an hour by train from Barcelona, you will find Perpignan. Hop one our AVE (high-speed) France trains, AVE (high-speed) International between Spain and France and enjoy a comfortable quick and sustainable trip. Pack your bags!
Perpignan is the last important city in the Occitanie region before you cross the border. It is characterised by squares surrounded by palm trees and a Mediterranean atmosphere and climate, as well as for a historic district with a harmonious architecture, where Gothic art predominates.
In addition to being known as one of the best places in the region for its local gastronomic delicacies, there are many reasons to visit this gem of southern France. Below are the 5 main reasons:
The remains of this castle can be found on Puig del Rei hill, which dates back to the 13th century. This legendary bastion was built between 1276 and 1309 for King James II of Mallorca. It was opened to the public after World War II.
After crossing the esplanade of green gardens, you will find the immense Gothic-style building. Highlights include the courtyard of honour, the red and white marble that covers the chapel and the Great Hall of Mallorca. The views of the city are breath-taking and these can even be seen from the Pyrenees.
Outside of the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca
This incredible religious building constructed in Gothic style between 1324 and 1509 can be found in the historic district. It is known for its ochre colour and red stones, which blend into the city's background perfectly, since most of its buildings are built with the same colours. It has a single nave with huge proportions and splendid vaults, as well as baroque altarpieces, not forgetting the beautiful clock tower with its wrought iron cage, which dates back to the eighteenth century.
The funerary complex of Saint-Jean is the largest and oldest cloister-cemetery in France. Considered a Historical Monument since 1910, it combines a splendid architecture, magnificent materials and a unique layout for its cemetery. In contrast, there is the simple design of Saint-Jean Baptiste Chapel or Funerary place, built at the end of the fourteenth century with donations and with hardly any decorations. The four galleries of the complex allow visitors to walk around and discover the city's illustrious history.
The Castellet is perhaps the most important and famous monument in Perpignan and a must if you are visiting or just passing through the city. It used to be the main gateway to enter the city through the walls. Only a portion of it remains since it was built in the fourteenth century. However, this impressive gate built in brick has an unequalled value for the city's inhabitants.
Its purpose has changed throughout history, from being the King's second home to becoming a watchtower, and even a prison after its walls were demolished and in the twentieth century, when it was used for the municipal archives. It is currently used by the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions.
A mighty fortress halfway between Perpignan and Narbonne, Salses-le-Château was built by King Ferdinand of Aragon in 1497. In its day, it guarded the old border. Furthermore, the castle, bounded by four low, cylindrical towers, appears to be below ground level, despite being on a hill.
Next, after crossing a pair of drawbridges over a series of intertwining moats, we find Salses Fortress, which boasts a revolutionary architecture and an exclusive and original example of transition between medieval castles and modern fortifications.
If you wish to learn more about southern France, Montpellier is less than 3 hours away.
All in all, a walk through the narrow streets of Perpignan will help visitors discover the incomparable richness of its past. Buy your train ticket to Perpignan now and travel on Renfe's Alta Velocidad (high-speed) International trains!
Moreover, if you wish to discover more about France, you can't miss the other cities connected to each other with our trains, such as Béziers, Montpellier, Lyon, Marsella or Aix-en-Provence, always from city centre to city centre.
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