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Perpignan - The City, the Mediterranean and Catalonia

Mar 4, 2008
Perpignan, a small city in the Languedoc of south-west France, is the perfect destination for lovers of the sea, mountains, art, culture and history. With miles of sandy beaches nearby, this is a cultural center not to be missed for those visiting south-west France or northern Spain.

Perpignan is to be found in a region of France known as Languedoc-Roussillon. It is in fact located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, close by the border with Spain. It also benefits from a stunning hinterland formed by the Pyrenees mountain chain and the well-known and equally famous Corbieres wine-growing region. For those interested in facts, Perpignan is also the southernmost city in France.

Perpignan also has a unique and most interesting history, and is equally well-known for its architecture as for the modern-day tourist industry. It is also very well-known for its world-famous rail station, the ceiling of which was painted by the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who called the station the "cosmological center of the universe".

The ancient area around Perpignan, originally known as Ruscino, which gave its name to the entire region, was occupied from the sixth century BC, and was a major trading partner with Greece, until falling under Celtic domination in the second century BC. In the eleventh century AD, the city belonged to the counts of Roussillon who made it there home, until in 1172 and the death of the last count who bequeathed it to the king of Aragon. However in 1262 it again changed hands and was willed to the kingdom of Majorca.

Perpignan is also well-known for being the owner of one of the most amazing and unusual carillons. It is the last surviving operational carillon that possesses a range of four full octaves. It dates from the 19th century, being constructed in the famous French bell foundry belonging to Amadee Bollee and Sons from Mans. Before being installed in the church at Perpignan, it was exhibited at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in the year 1878.

The carillon is now owned by the City of Perpignan who have recently restored it to its full original glory. Carillonists appointed by the church now play the instrument on a regular basis. And since its electrification in 1956, its music can be heard resonating around the city three times each day, morning, noon and evening, with the music to the Angelus prayer.

There are four museums in Perpignan, all possessing outstanding collections. Firstly there is the Museum of Catalan Art and Traditions. Then there are the renowned Museum of Coins and Medals and the Natural history Museum. Then there is the glorious Hyacinthe Rigaud Museum of Painting.

In a city the size of Perpignan it often surprises the visitor just how much land is given over to grass and parkland. In fact the city is home to a huge quantity of nesting birds of many species thanks to all this greenery. The central city itself indeed embraces a good 130 hectares of parkland, whilst the outlying areas contain over 2000 hectares of cultivated land passed through by a river. The result is a veritable natural sanctuary for a variety of wildlife and bird species.

Moving on to the culinary arts, naturally enough the native cuisine of Perpignan is of Catalan origin - a gastronomic experience not to be missed if you are new to these parts.

So after all that, it only remains to wish you happy holidays and happy encounters with the magnificent city of Perpignan.
About the Author
For further information on France, the French lifestyle and Rennes in French, please visit Rencontres Rennes at Antonio Bonito's QuePourToi.com rencontres coquines web site.
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