Low-key French city yields unexpected travel treat!

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Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon » Perpignan
February 7th 2013
Published: April 16th 2018
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Welcome to Perpignan (or so it seemed)! Glad to have escaped the threat of being stranded due to record snowfall in the Pyrenees, the prospect of arriving in Perpignan was a welcome one to say the least. The colourful modern exterior of (the rear of) the city's main train station was the first sight witnessed, and the task of booking an onward rail ticket to Toulouse and finding a place to stay the night on a low budget (35 euros, in this case), was rendered easy by the options available. Since this stay in Perpignan was destined to be two half days either side of an overnight stay, some serious exploration was to be done in that time frame, and happily, the city is just about as walkable as it gets for French cities, and armed with a basic city map, it was simple to negociate the city's layout without getting bogged down with the unfamiliar nature of it all. Many of the city's shops flanked a set of winding streets, and gave the city a 'when modern clashes with traditional' feel, and the variety of monuments, buildings of note, shops, restaurants and other reference points made Perpignan seem like a thoroughly liveable place with a 'one of everything' feel. Strolling around with a definite sense of direction gave the impression that this is a city of squares of varying sizes, sewn together with the aforementioned kind of terrain, and also a city to suit all budget ranges, if the variety of shops and eateries was anything to go by. A tasty Indian meal at a local restaurant wound up the proceedings for the first day, and the plan for day two was to head for the Majorcan Palace, which appeared, at least on the map, to be the city's biggest bona fide tourist attraction. Sadly, due to renovation works, the Palace was closed at the time of (attempting to) visit, so veering away from the said landmark and wandering around what looked like an unfamiliar area revealed the city's very own Arab quarter, a curious piece of urban terrain, where it appeared that low-budget shoppers would be in their element, thanks to the existance of a morning flea market, mostly selling clothes, but with a few other nik-naks which render that kind of chance discovery more than worthwhile. The waterways which flow through the city are tastefully flanked by neatly-kept areas of greenery, and in some cases, flower beds, which make the whole package somehow more appealing. All in all, for a city I had never really intended on visiting, the Perpignan experience went to prove that places of this ilk needn't be either ignored of written-off, as I had come across a substance here which was substantially appealing to consider the heavy snowfall in the Pyrenees providing a welcome shove in this city's direction.

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