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Flag of Perpignan

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Perpignan is located in France
Coordinates: 42°41′55″N 2°53′44″E / 42.6986, 2.8956Coordinates: 42°41′55″N 2°53′44″E / 42.6986, 2.8956
Country France
Region Occitanie
Department Pyrénées-Orientales
Arrondissement Perpignan
Intercommunality Têt Méditerranée
 • Mayor (2009–2014) Jean-Marc Pujol (UMP) (Radical-UMP)
Area1 68.07 km2 (26.28 sq mi)
Population (2013)2 118,238
 • Density 1,700/km2 (4,500/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 66136 / 66000
Elevation 8–95 m (26–312 ft)
(avg. 30 m or 98 ft)
Website (French) (Catalan)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Perpignan (French pronunciation: [pɛʁ.piˈɲɑ̃], Catalan: Perpinyà [pərpiˈɲa]) is a city, a commune and the capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. 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.

In 2013 Perpignan had 118,238 inhabitants (Perpignanais, Perpinyanés) in the city proper. The metropolitan area had a total population of 305,837 in 2010.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Localisation[edit | edit source]

Perpignan is located in the center of the Roussillon plain, 13 km west of the Mediterranean coast.

Hydrography[edit | edit source]

Perpignan is crossed by the largest river in Roussillon, the Têt, and by one of its tributaries, the Basse.

Climate[edit | edit source]

Perpignan experiences a warm Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), similar to much of southern France.

Climate data for Perpignan 1981-2010 averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.8
Average high °C (°F) 12.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 4.4
Record low °C (°F) −8.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 66.2
Avg. rainy days 5.2 4.7 4.5 5.9 5.5 4.1 3.0 3.9 4.2 5.1 5.1 5.3 56.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 147.5 153.2 206.2 214.2 240.1 270.6 313.9 270.7 217.7 182.3 147.7 141.9 2,506.0
Source: Météo France[1]

Transport[edit | edit source]

Perpignan is served by the Gare de Perpignan railway station, which offers connections to Paris, Barcelona, Toulouse and several regional destinations. The motorway A9 connects Perpignan with Barcelona and Montpellier. The nearest airport is Perpignan – Rivesaltes Airport.

Toponymy[edit | edit source]

Attested forms

The name of Perpignan appears in 927 as Perpinianum, followed in 959 by Villa Perpiniano, Pirpinianum in the 11th c., Perpiniani in 1176. Perpenyà, which appears in the 13th c., is the most common form until the 15th c. and is still used in the 17th c.

History[edit | edit source]

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. Soon 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 (1258).

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 Philip III of France died there in 1285, as he was returning from his unsuccessful crusade against the Aragonese Crown.

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.

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 from then on remained a French possession.

Economy[edit | edit source]

Traditional commerce was in wine and olive oil, corks (the cork oak Quercus suber grows in Perpignan's mild climate), wool and 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.

Sport[edit | edit source]

Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 (most recently in 2009), while their rugby league side plays in the First Utility Super League under the name Catalans Dragons. The Dragons missed out on a victory as the first ever French club to make it to a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in 2007, losing 30-8 against St. Helens in front of 84,000 people.

Sites of interest[edit | edit source]

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was begun in 1324 and finished in 1509.[2]

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.

Place de la République and theatre

Sadi Carnot and Vauban walkways and the river Bassa

Culture[edit | edit source]

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, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (2008).

The famous "Sanch Procession" folklore, once forbidden by the Church, is still celebrated in Perpignan, Arles-sur-Tech and Collioure.

Perpignan has a close connection with the sculptor Aristide Maillol, who attended school there.

Following a visit in 1963, the Spanish 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 the waiting room. 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.[3] 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").[4]

Perpignan street name sign in French and Catalan.

In 2008, Perpignan became Capital of Catalan Culture.[5]

In Perpignan many street name signs are in both French and Catalan.

Notable people born in Perpignan[edit | edit source]

  • Menachem Meiri (1249–c. 1310), a famous Catalan rabbi, Talmudist and Maimonidean.
  • Louise Labé (1524–1566), a female Lyons poet of the Renaissance which at the siege of Perpignan, or in a tournament there, is said to have dressed in male clothing and fought on horseback in the ranks of the Dauphin, afterwards Henry II.
  • Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743), who painted the definitive portraits of Louis XIV.
  • François Arago (1786–1853), the physicist, astronomer and liberal politician, who secured the abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1853, was born in the nearby village of Estagel (Estagell) and is memorialized in the eponymous Place Arago that bears his statue in the centre of the town.
  • Aristide Maillol (1861–1944). French Catalan sculptor and painter. Bronzes in the Garden of Tuileries, Paris and at the Metropolitan, NYC.
  • Robert Brasillach (1909–1945), fascist author and journalist, executed for advocating collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II.
  • Frédérick Bousquet (born 1981), French freestyle and butterfly swimmer who competed at three consecutive Summer Olympics (2000, 2004, and 2008).
  • Sandrine Erdely-Sayo (born 1968) pianist – youngest recipient of the French Minister of Culture Prize at 13 years old. She lives in Philadelphia where she became National Interest for the United States.

International relations[edit | edit source]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit | edit source]

Perpignan is twinned with:

Partner towns[edit | edit source]

  • Spain Girona, Catalonia, Spain, since 1988
  • Spain Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, since 1994
  • Spain Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, since 1996

Perpignan train station

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ "Perpignan" (in French). Météo France. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Cathédrale St Jean-Baptiste [Cathedral of St. John the Baptist]". Histoire du Roussillon. Retrieved 15 November 2011.  (French)
  3. ^ Elliott King in Dawn Ades (ed.), Dalí, Bompiani Arte, Milan, 2004, p. 448
  4. ^ "Picture Gallery – Directory: /pix/fr/electric/emu/TGV/Duplex/misc". Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  5. ^ Perpinyà, Capital de la Cultura Catalana
  6. ^ "Hanover – Twin Towns" (in German). 2007–2009 – Offizielles Portal der Landeshauptstadt und der Region Hannover in Zusammenarbeit mit Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sarasota Sister Cities Association, Sarasota Florida". Retrieved 15 September 2011. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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