Perpignan (summer only)
Bienvenue to Perpignan, the friendly French Catalonian city nestled in the Eastern Pyrenees. As the last major stop before Spain, its strong Catalan roots and proximity to the border gives this lovely town a real Spanish flavour. And only two hours from Southampton Airport, breeze through the airport to a city where the sun always shines – even in winter.
Perpignan’s architecture is as warm as its welcome, and the city centre has shady quarters to help escape the noonday sun as well as great eating. Unlike anywhere else in France, Perpignan serves up Catalan tapas alongside traditional French dishes. Explore its cathedral, and museums then hop on the little yellow train and take to the hills, Perpignan is a land that’s ready for adventure.
With a flight time of just under two hours from Southampton with Flybe, Perpignan airport is only 10 minutes from the city centre.
Top things to see and do
15km from Perpignan is the brilliantly preserved Forteresse de Salses. At the foot of the Corbieres hills in beautiful red stone, battlements have been built in to every nook and cranny. Little explorers will love.
The Little Yellow Train is one of the ‘great railway journeys of the world’, and takes you up through the Pyrenees to a vertigo-wobbling 1,592 metres - even in winter. Arrive early in summer to nab a spot in the open carriage.
Palais des Rois de Majorque, with its Moorish, Arabic and Spanish influences sits in the middle of the city, with beautiful gardens to rest a while in.
Off the beaten track
The outdoor thermal pools of Les Bains de Saint Thomas come beautifully staged in their very own stone amphitheatre, complete with mod cons like Jacuzzis and jets.
With plenty of the Med’s beaches in easy reach, our favourite is Argeles sur mer. Just half an hour from Perpignan for some proper sand between your toes – and the Pyrenees behind you – the north beach is prettier.
One of the most beautiful villages in France, Castelnou is well worth the short journey. Set near to the Spanish border in rolling hills, there’s a lovely village and castle to explore.