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Perpinyà  (Catalan)
Perpignan banner.jpg
Perpignan - panoramio.jpg
Quai Sebastien Vauban - panoramio.jpg
Castillet in Perpignan.jpg
Arms of Perpignan.svg
Location of Perpignan
France location map-Regions and departements-2016.svg
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Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrenees region location map.svg
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Coordinates: 42°41′55″N2°53′44″E / 42.6986°N 2.8956°E / 42.6986; 2.8956 Coordinates: 42°41′55″N2°53′44″E / 42.6986°N 2.8956°E / 42.6986; 2.8956
Country France
Region Occitania
Department Pyrénées-Orientales
Arrondissement Perpignan
Canton Perpignan-1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Intercommunality Perpignan Méditerranée Métropole
  Mayor (20202026) Louis Aliot (RN)
68.07 km2 (26.28 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2019) [1]
  Density1,800/km2 (4,500/sq mi)
Demonym Perpignanais
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
66136 /66000
Elevation8–95 m (26–312 ft)
(avg. 30 m or 98 ft)
Website (in French)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Perpignan ( UK: /ˈpɜːrpɪnjɒ̃/ , US: /ˌpɛərpˈnjɒn/ , [2] [3] French:  [pɛʁpiɲɑ̃] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Catalan : Perpinyà [pəɾpiˈɲa] ; Spanish : Perpiñán [peɾpiˈɲan] ; Italian : Perpignano [perpiɲˈɲaːno] ) is the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France, in the heart of the plain of Roussillon, at the foot of the Pyrenees a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea and the scrublands of the Corbières massif. It is the centre of the Perpignan Méditerranée Métropole metropolitan area. [4]


In 2016 Perpignan had a population of 121,875 (Perpignanais(e) in French, Perpinyanés(a) in Catalan) in the commune proper, and the metropolitan area had a total population of 268,577, making it the last major French city before the Spanish border. Perpignan is also sometimes seen as the "Entrance" of the Iberian Peninsula.

Perpignan was the capital of the former province and County of Roussillon (Rosselló in Catalan) and continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has preserved an extensive old centre with its bodegas in the historic centre, coloured houses in a series of picturesque streets and alleys stretching between the banks of the Têt and its tributary, the Basse.

The city is also known for its International Photojournalism Festival, its medieval Trobades and its centuries-old garnet industry.



Perpignan is located in the center of the Roussillon plain, 13 km west of the Mediterranean coast. It is the southernmost of the cities of metropolitan France.


Perpignan is crossed by the largest river in Roussillon, the Têt, and by one of its tributaries, the Basse. Floods have occurred, as in 1892 when the rising of the Têt in Perpignan destroyed 39 houses, leaving more than 60 families homeless. [5]


Perpignan has a typical Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) similar to much of the Mediterranean coastline of France. One might expect rain to be rare in the city, but in fact the annual precipitation levels are similar to the national average. However, the city is known for its patchy rains, with weeks or even months of rain falling in a matter of hours, followed by weeks and weeks without a drop of water. Perpignan experiences very hot summers and fairly mild winters. For decades, there has been no snow most of the time and temperatures can reach 40 °C (104 °F). Most of the precipitation occurs in the cold season, with extremely dry summers. A fresh north-westerly wind often blows, the Tramontana (French: Tramontane, pronounced [tʁamɔ̃tan]), keeping the sky clear much of the time, resulting in high annual sunshine. But the presence of this wind makes winters colder than they should be from the geographical position of the city.

Climate data for Perpignan (1981–2010 averages)
Record high °C (°F)25.0
Average high °C (°F)12.4
Daily mean °C (°F)8.3
Average low °C (°F)4.4
Record low °C (°F)−8.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)65.4
Average precipitation days5.
Average snowy days0.
Average relative humidity (%)70686464666259636873717166.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 141.2160.8209.6218.0235.8268.9298.2267.4222.2167.6149.2126.12,464.9
Source 1: Météo France [6] [7]
Source 2: (humidity and snowy days, 1961–1990) [8]



The A9 motorway connects Perpignan with Barcelona and Montpellier.


Perpignan is served by the Gare de Perpignan railway station, which offers connections to Paris, Barcelona, Toulouse, and several regional destinations. Salvador Dalí proclaimed the station to be the "Cosmic Centre of the Universe" after experiencing a vision of cosmogonic ecstasy there in 1963. [9]


The nearest airport is Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport.


Attested forms

The name of Perpignan appears in 927 as Perpinianum, followed in 959 by Villa Perpiniano, Pirpinianum in the 11th century, Perpiniani in 1176. Perpenyà, which appears in the 13th century, is the most common form until the 15th century, and was still used in the 17th century. It probably derives from the Roman name Perpennius.


Historical affiliations
Perpignan c. 1780 Perpignan - Ecole militaire (vers 1780).jpg
Perpignan c. 1780

Though settlement in the area goes back to Roman times, the medieval town of Perpignan seems to have been founded around the beginning of the 10th century. Shortly afterwards, Perpignan became the capital of the counts of Roussillon. Historically, it was part of the region known as Septimania. In 1172 Count Girard II bequeathed his lands to the Counts of Barcelona. Perpignan acquired the institutions of a partly self-governing commune in 1197. French feudal rights over Roussillon were given up by Louis IX in the Treaty of Corbeil.

When James I the Conqueror, king of Aragon and count of Barcelona, founded the Kingdom of Majorca in 1276, Perpignan became the capital of the mainland territories of the new state. The succeeding decades are considered the golden age in the history of the city. It prospered as a centre of cloth manufacture, leather work, goldsmiths' work, and other luxury crafts. King Philippe III of France died there in 1285, as he was returning from his unsuccessful crusade against the Aragonese Crown.

Perpignan c. 1905 Perpignan - Avenue de la Gare (vers 1905).jpg
Perpignan c. 1905

In 1344 Peter IV of Aragon annexed the Kingdom of Majorca and Perpignan once more became part of the County of Barcelona. A few years later it lost approximately half of its population to the Black Death. It was attacked and occupied by Louis XI of France in 1463; a violent uprising against French rule in 1473 was harshly put down after a long siege, but in 1493 Charles VIII of France, wishing to conciliate Castile in order to free himself to invade Italy, restored it to Ferdinand II of Aragon. [10]

Again besieged and captured by the French during the Thirty Years' War in September 1642, Perpignan was formally ceded by Spain 17 years later in the Treaty of the Pyrenees, and thereafter remained a French possession.

In June 2020, it was reported that the National Rally's Louis Aliot won the mayor election in Perpignan. it would be the first time that the Marine Le Pen's party has won a city of more than 100,000 people. [11] [12]

Government and politics


MayorTerm startTerm end
Edmond BenoitJuly 1910May 1911
Léon NérelMay 1911May 1912
Joseph DenisMay 1912May 1929
Victor Dalbiez May 1929May 1935
Jean PayraMay 193529 May 1937 (death)
Laurent BaudruJune 1937December 1940
Antoine CastillonDecember 1940March 1941
Ferdinand CoudrayMarch 1941August 1944
Félix MercaderAugust 194411 March 1949 (death)
Félix DepardonApril 1949March 1959
Paul Alduy March 1959May 1993
Jean-Paul Alduy June 199327 April 2009 (election of 2008 cancelled)
Bernard Bacou (retired magistrate acting as mayor)27 April 20095 July 2009
Jean-Paul Alduy 5 July 200915 October 2009 (resignation)
Jean-Marc Pujol22 October 20093 July 2020
Louis Aliot 3 July 2020

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Perpignan is twinned with:

Partner towns
  • Flag of Spain.svg Girona, Catalonia, Spain, since 1988
  • Flag of Spain.svg Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, since 1994
  • Flag of Spain.svg Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, since 1996


More than 10 000 students from 2 to 12 years old attend 61 preschools and primary schools in the city. [16] Perpignan also has 26 highschools. [17]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 9,134    
1800 10,415+1.89%
1806 12,499+3.09%
1821 14,864+1.16%
1831 17,114+1.42%
1836 17,618+0.58%
1841 20,792+3.37%
1846 22,706+1.78%
1851 21,783−0.83%
1856 23,301+1.36%
1861 23,462+0.14%
1866 25,264+1.49%
1872 27,378+1.35%
1876 28,353+0.88%
1881 31,735+2.28%
1886 34,183+1.50%
1891 33,878−0.18%
1896 35,088+0.70%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 36,157+0.60%
1906 38,898+1.47%
1911 39,510+0.31%
1921 53,742+3.12%
1926 68,835+5.07%
1931 73,962+1.45%
1936 72,207−0.48%
1946 74,984+0.38%
1954 70,051−0.85%
1962 83,025+2.15%
1968 102,191+3.52%
1975 106,426+0.58%
1982 111,669+0.69%
1990 105,983−0.65%
1999 105,115−0.09%
2007 116,041+1.24%
2012 120,489+0.76%
2017 120,158−0.06%
Source: EHESS [18] and INSEE (1968-2017) [19]


The famous "Sanch Procession" folklore celebrated in Perpignan, Arles-sur-Tech, and Collioure. Sanch perpignan 2007 (18).jpg
The famous "Sanch Procession" folklore celebrated in Perpignan, Arles-sur-Tech, and Collioure.

Since 2004, the free three-day Guitares au Palais is held each year in the last weekend of August in the Palace of the Kings of Majorca. The festival has a broad mainstream focus with pop-related music as well as traditional acoustic guitar music and alternative music. The festival has attracted international guests like Caetano Veloso (2007), Rumberos Catalans , Pedro Soler, Bernardo Sandoval, Peter Finger, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner (2008).

Each September, Perpignan hosts the internationally renowned Visa pour l'Image festival of photojournalism. Free exhibitions are mounted in the Couvent des Minimes, Chapelle des Dominicaines and other buildings in the old town. [20]

In 2008, Perpignan became Capital of Catalan Culture. [21] In Perpignan many street name signs are in both French and Catalan.

Perpignan street name sign in French and Catalan. Straatnaambord-in-Perpignan-trimmed.jpg
Perpignan street name sign in French and Catalan.


Rugby side Catalans Dragons' Stade Gilbert Brutus. Gilbert.brutus..jpg
Rugby side Catalans Dragons' Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Like the rest of the south of France, Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USAP Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the global elite Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the French Top 14 (most recently in 2009). They play at the Stade Aimé Giral.

A Perpignan-based rugby league club plays in British Super League under the name Catalans Dragons. The Dragons' games in Perpignan against the Northern English-based sides are usually very popular with British rugby fans, with thousands of them descending on the city on the day of the game, including many vacationing rugby fans travelling up from the Spanish Costa Brava joining the ones who came directly from home. The club was founded in 2000 as the merger of XIII Catalan with nearby neighbours AS Saint Estève to form Union Treiziste Catalane. The club is based at Stade Gilbert Brutus. The youth teams reformed as Saint-Estève XIII Mavericks, while a French top league semi-professional club was retained under the name Saint-Estève XIII Catalan; both play at the Stade Municipal in the in Saint-Estève suburb.

The local association football team is Canet Roussillon FC, there is also an Australian rules football club Perpignan Tigers and American football club Grizzlys Catalans.

The Roussillon Grand Prix was a Grand Prix motor racing event that was held between 1946 and 1949 in the streets of Perpignan.


Traditional commerce was in wine, olive oil, corks (the cork oak Quercus suber grows in Perpignan's mild climate), wool, leather, and iron. In May 1907 it was a seat of agitation by southern producers for government enforcement of wine quality following a collapse in prices. JOB rolling papers are currently manufactured in Perpignan.

Sites of interest

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was begun in 1324 and finished in 1509. [22]

The 13th century Palace of the Kings of Majorca sits on the high citadel, surrounded by ramparts, reinforced for Louis XI and Charles V, which were updated in the 17th century by Louis XIV's military engineer Vauban.

The walls surrounding the town, which had been designed by Vauban, were razed in 1904 to accommodate urban development. The main city door, the Castillet is a small fortress built in the 14th century, which has been preserved. It had also been used as a prison until the end of the 19th century. [23]

The Hôtel Pams is a lavishly-decorated mansion designed for Jules Pams that illustrates the artistic taste of the wealthy bourgeois at the turn of the 20th century. [24]

Les Halles de Vauban are a new addition to the banks of the city's canal. Opened in November 2017 the indoor markets are privately owned and cost €1.5 million. Split into two locations, vendors offer fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, flowers, cheese, etc. There is a bar and central eating court with a range of tapas, burgers, omelettes and food from around the world. [25]

Place de la Republique and theatre Place de la Republique Perpignan Panorama.jpg
Place de la République and theatre
Sadi Carnot and Vauban walkways and the river Bassa Perpignan panorama le quai Sadi Carnot et le quai Vauban le long de la riviere la Basse.jpg
Sadi Carnot and Vauban walkways and the river Bassa

Notable people linked to Perpignan

Following a visit in 1963, the Catalan surrealist artist Salvador Dalí declared the city's railway station the centre of the Universe, saying that he always got his best ideas sitting in its waiting room. Dalí's painting La Gare de Perpignan commemorates his vision of "cosmogonic ecstasy" there on 19 September 1963. [26] He followed that up some years later by declaring that the Iberian Peninsula rotated precisely at Perpignan station 132 million years ago – an event the artist invoked in his 1983 painting Topological Abduction of Europe – Homage to René Thom . [27] Above the station is a monument in Dali's honour, and across the surface of one of the main platforms is painted, in big letters, «perpignan centre du monde» (French for "perpignan centre of the world"). [28]

Perpignan train station Gare-de-perpignan.jpg
Perpignan train station

See also

Related Research Articles

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The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Perpignan, France.


  1. "Populations légales 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  2. Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN   978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-521-15255-6.
  4. INSEE commune file
  5. Fabricio Cardenas (2 March 2014). "Vieux papiers des Pyrénées-Orientales: Inondations en novembre 1892". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  6. "Données climatiques de la station de Perpignan" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
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  9. Coppens, Philip. "Salvador Dalí: painting the fourth dimension" . Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  10. Pigaillem 2008, p. 109.
  11. "Far-right to win southern French town of Perpignan: Exit poll". Reuters. 28 June 2020.
  12. "France's Greens make gains, Macron loses ground in low-turnout local elections". 28 June 2020.
  13. "Hanover – Twin Towns". (in German). Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
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  17. "ECOLES À PERPIGNAN (66000)". Journaldesfemmes. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  18. Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Perpignan, EHESS. (in French)
  19. Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  20. "Visa Pour l'Image". 22 August 2017.
  21. "VilaWeb - Diari escola: Perpinyа, Capital de la Cultura Catalana 2008". 20 April 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  22. "Cathédrale St Jean-Baptiste" [Cathedral of St. John the Baptist]. Histoire du Roussillon. Retrieved 15 November 2011.(in French)
  23. Fabricio Cardenas (20 March 2014). "Vieux papiers des Pyrénées-Orientales: La prison du Castillet, 1892". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  24. Fiche Pédagogique - Hôtel Pams de Perpignan (PDF) (in French), Association Pédagogique de la Plaine, du Vallespir et de la Côte Vermeille, retrieved 31 December 2015
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  27. Elliott King in Dawn Adès (ed.), Dalí, Bompiani Arte, Milan, 2004, p. 448.
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