ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Perpignan, France: refracting past sovereignties

Updated on January 14, 2016
French flag
French flag | Source
Castillet Tower, Perpignan: flying the Catalan flag
Castillet Tower, Perpignan: flying the Catalan flag | Source
Palace of the Kings of Majorca, Perpignan
Palace of the Kings of Majorca, Perpignan | Source
Map location of Perpignan in the Pyrnes-Orientales Department. Spain is shown to the south, and the Principality of Andorra to the east.
Map location of Perpignan in the Pyrnes-Orientales Department. Spain is shown to the south, and the Principality of Andorra to the east. | Source

The shadow of the Pyrenees, dualities and bilingualism

When I visited the ancient city of Perpignan (Catalan: Perpinyà), I had the impression that a cultural duality was very much a local feature. In the apparent nature of the place, more than one historic identity seemed to be asserted simultaneously.

Since the 17th century, Perpignan and its surrounding Roussillon (Catalan: Rosselló) region, have belonged to France, and the official language has for centuries been French. But Catalan, the original local language, has also survived, and today many of Perpignan's street signs are written in Catalan as well as in French. Although this area of France borders on Spain, local people in Roussillon culturally identify more closely with the region of Catalonia within Spain, rather than with the Spanish state.

Indeed, centuries ago, the Kings of the Catalan-speaking former realm of Majorca built a palace here, a continental base for their island kingdom. This fine palace may be seen today.

Another of Perpignan's landmarks is the Castillet (Catalan: El Castellet ) tower, It is often the familiar red and yellow striped Catalan flag which flies from this ancient building, dating from the 14th century.

Mountain proximity

Running near Perpignan, and across the Franch-Spanish border, is the Pyrenees range of mountains. One nearby mountain, the Canigou (Catalan: El Canigó ), broods majestically over the coastal plain near the Mediterranean, by Perpignan.

Bordering the Pyrénées-Orientales department, in which Perpignan is situated, is the Catalan-speaking Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d'Andorra ; French: Principauté d'Andorre ). In this mountainous state a comparable sense of duality has been maintained since the Middle Ages. Established as a condominium of Co-Princes, the Count of Foix in nearby France (now the titular responsibility has passed to the French President) and the Bishop of Urgel in nearby Spain, the principality has for centuries maintained its independence perched high in the Pyrenees.

Also worth seeing:

Banyuls-sur-Mer (Catalan: Banyuls de la Marenda ; distance: 38 kilometres) is a picturesque town on the Mediterranean, close to the Spanish border, which already functioned as a port in the Middle Ages.

Andorra-la-Vella (French: Andorre-la-Vieille ; distance: 163 kilometres) is the capital of the Principality of Andorra. If you decide to drive, please check weather reports first because adverse weather can affect the roads.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ) (Paris-Perpignan distance: 849 kilometres), from where there are air links to Perpignan. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris (station: Gare de Lyon ) to Perpignan. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, Ryanair flies from London Stansted Airport to Perpignan Airport (Aéroport International Perpignan-Rivesaltes ), from where car rental is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)