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Visiting Perpignan Railroad Station, France, a fine, Neoclassical building dating from 1862

Updated on November 10, 2015
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Perpignan Station (Pyrénées-Orientales, France).
Perpignan Station (Pyrénées-Orientales, France). | Source
Perpignan Station.
Perpignan Station. | Source
Avenue de la Gare, Perpignan, before 1924
Avenue de la Gare, Perpignan, before 1924 | Source

A strong sense of place and displacement

This fine Railroad Station building, at Perpignan, in France's Pyrénées-Orientales department, close to the border with Spain, dates from 1862.

Thus, this building is identified with the great expansion of French railroad which occurred during the Second Empire of Napoleon III. Executed in Neoclassical style, its basic frontage masks the occurrence of profound, subequent modification and expansion of the facility.

Features of the building at its main frontage include Syrian arches between pilasters, a clock-face inset within a circular open pediment also supported by pilasters, and prominent cornices dividing the two main storeys and the eaves.

The railroad first came to Perpignan in 1858. Records show that the first station building was made of wood, and located in the nearby locality of Vernet. The current building is situated nearer to the Downtown area of Perpignan than the original building although it is still at somewhat of a distance from it.

As might be expected (2) the French national railroad company SNCF, which stands for Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français, created in 1938, is responsible for services and infrastructure at the station.

Today, the French TGV (to Paris, Lyons and Brussels) and Spanish AVE (to Barcelona and Madrid) fast train services link with the station, in addition to several other, local routes which are served.

The eccentric artist Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) had an interesting, if odd, association with the building in that he once famously claimed that Perpignan railroad station was the centre of the world.

Be this as it may, at the very least the building is a principal meeting point of Perpignan, if also somewhat on the periphery of the city, itself at the periphery of France, near the Spanish border.

November 11, 2015


(1) See also (in French) :

(2) There are actually some little-known exceptions to the generally nationalized railroad network in France. For example, these include the Nice-Digne-lès-Bains route, which is run by Chemins de Fer de Provence. Services from Audun-le-Tiche in eastern France are run by the Luxembourg railroad company CFL; although the station itself is owned by SNCF, the train service is, unusually, routed through the Grand Duchy, through which travellers to and from other French stations must first proceed.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

Among the many noted buildings in Perpignan itself are the Castillet tower, the Palace of the Kings of Majorca (French: Palais des rois de Majorque), examples of Medieval ecclesiastical architecture, and many others; the picturesque Basse river is tree-lined near the city's Downtown area.


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. You are advised to 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.


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