Perpignan is a historic town located in the far southeastern part of France, only about twenty miles north of the border with Spain. It is approximately the same latitude as the town of Biarritz on the western coast. The town is bordered on the north and west by the Alberes Mountains that provide excellent opportunities for wilderness hiking and panoramic sea views. There are no true Perpignan France beaches as the town is located about ten miles inland, but beaches are nearby and popular as sidetrips.
Perpignan is home to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, a national monument of France. And it is indeed a monumental structure. It was begun in 1324 by King Sancho of Majorca and not completed until 1509. Perpignan France was the capital of the medieval Kings of Majorca, and there are a number of fortified castles and palaces throughout the region, as far south as Collioure and Argeles sur Mer.
The main Palace of the Kings of Majorca (built in 1276) is located here, and it is the location of an important three-day guitar music festival held in August each year. Another castle can be viewed in Collioure near Argeles sur Mer. The cathedrals, palaces, and chateaux of the Perpignan France region are different than the towns of the Renaissance castles and chateaux found further north in places like the Loire Valley. These southern France edifices are Gothic but with heavy Moorish and Spanish influences, making them large and monumental as opposed to beautifully graceful.
A beach is located due east, take the main D617 to the seaside village of Canet en Roussillon. The beach here is called Canet Plage, and it is part of what is the longest unbroken stretch of beaches on the Mediterranean coast, which begins around Argeles sur Mer and reaches almost all the way to Marseille in the north—a distance of close to 200 miles. Behind many of the beaches on this coast are lagoons, providing the mussels, oysters, and lobsters that are staples in the regional cuisine. There are two lagoons behind Canet Plage.
Another very accessible Perpignan France beach will be found just to the north, and is called Plage Sainte-Marie. There are numerous beach resorts along these two beaches, and these are the preferred accommodations for many visitors. However, there are many Perpignan hotels in town that will allow you to get to the beaches in a very short time on a good highway. The hotels in town allow you to explore the main sights in the city center on foot, as everything here is quite compact.
There is a Perpignan airport a couple miles north of town. For a small airport, it has a surprising number of international flights, primarily from the UK, including Dublin, Southampton, Manchester, and London. There are also flights from Paris, and there is direct train service to Paris. There are no ferries to this part of the coast, but there are ferries between Sete (to the north) and Morocco. Farther south, there are many ferries scheduled between Barcelona and Italy, North Africa, the Balaeric Islands, and Valencia.
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