Located the foothills of the Pyrenees just north of the Spain border, lies Perpignan. It is much Spanish as French. With rambling suburbs that extend out from the center of the old town it is filled with alleys with older buildings that are colored in shades of lemon, peach and tangerine. (Like Miami)
It is an interesting, lively, modern town, with its roots as an active city center that go back to the early Middle Ages. Compared to Montpellier it has a distinctly multicultural character – Spanish and North African accents are just as common here as French. This will be a test of my French ear….
Historically, Perpignan (Perpinyà in Catalan) was the capital of the kingdom of Mallorca. Mallorca was a mediterranean power that stretched northwards as far as Montpellier and included all the Balearic Islands. The Mallorcan kings’ palace still stands guard at the southern end of the old town.
Perpignan is still the third-largest ‘Catalan’ city after Barcelona and Lleida (Lérida) both located in Spain.
The old town has several intriguing churches. The largest and most impressive is the Cathédrale St-Jean. Building of this Cathedral begun in the year 1324 however, it was not completed until 1509.
Inside, there is an ornate carved altar piece that are succinctly Catalan. However, the simple statue of the Virgin and child, located in the north aisle, is a cherished relic for Perpignan believers.
Let the Adventure Begin….