Perpinyà (Catalan)
Flag of Perpignan
Coat of arms of Perpignan
Location of Perpignan
Perpignan is located in France
Perpignan is located in Occitanie
Coordinates: 42°41′55″N 2°53′44″E / 42.6986°N 2.8956°E / 42.6986; 2.8956
CantonPerpignan-1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
IntercommunalityPerpignan Méditerranée Métropole
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Louis Aliot[1] (RN)
68.07 km2 (26.28 sq mi)
 • Density1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Perpignanais (masc.), Perpignanaise (fem.) (French)
perpinyanès (masc.), perpinyanesa (fem.) (Catalan)
Time zoneUTC+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) (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: /ˌpɛərpˈnjɑːn/,[3][4] French: [pɛʁpiɲɑ̃] ; Catalan: Perpinyà, [pəɾpiˈɲa]; Occitan: Perpinhan) 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.[5]

In 2016, Perpignan had a population of 121,875 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 Festival of Photojournalism, the medieval Trobades festival 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 city 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.[6]


Perpignan has a typical Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), bordering closely on humid subtropical, similar to much of the Mediterranean coastline of France. One might expect rain to be rare in the city, but 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 several weeks without a drop of water. Perpignan experiences very hot summers and fairly mild winters. Temperatures can reach 40 °C (104 °F), while there has been little snow for decades. Most precipitation occurs in the cold season, with summers being extremely dry. A fresh north-westerly wind often blows, the Tramontana (French: Tramontane, pronounced [tʁamɔ̃tan]), keeping the sky clear much of the time and resulting in high annual sunshine. But the presence of this wind makes winters colder than would be expected from the geographical position of the city.

Climate data for Perpignan (1991–2020 normals), extremes since 1924
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 12.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 4.8
Record low °C (°F) −8.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 60.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 5.0 3.8 4.9 6.2 5.7 3.8 2.6 3.1 4.4 5.0 4.9 4.7 54.1
Average relative humidity (%) 70 68 64 64 66 62 59 63 68 73 71 71 67
Mean monthly sunshine hours 141 164 207 220 241 268 300 273 224 175 147 131 2,491
Source 1: Météo France[7]
Source 2: (humidity, 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 there in 1963.[9]


The nearest airport is Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport.


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


See also: Timeline of Perpignan

Historical affiliations
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 subsequent decades are considered the city's historical golden age. It prospered as a centre of cloth manufacture, leatherwork, goldsmithery, 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

In 1344 Peter IV of Aragon annexed the Kingdom of Majorca and Perpignan once more became part of the Principality of Catalonia. 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, Louis Aliot of the National Rally was elected mayor of Perpignan. This was the first time since 1995 that the far-right party had won a city of more than 100,000 people.[11][12]

Government and politics


Mayor Term start Term end
Edmond Benoit July 1910 May 1911
Léon Nérel May 1911 May 1912
Joseph Denis May 1912 May 1929
Victor Dalbiez May 1929 May 1935
Jean Payra May 1935 29 May 1937 (death)
Laurent Baudru June 1937 December 1940
Antoine Castillon December 1940 March 1941
Ferdinand Coudray March 1941 August 1944
Félix Mercader August 1944 11 March 1949 (death)
Félix Depardon April 1949 March 1959
Paul Alduy March 1959 May 1993
Jean-Paul Alduy June 1993 27 April 2009 (election of 2008 cancelled)
Bernard Bacou (retired magistrate acting as mayor) 27 April 2009 5 July 2009
Jean-Paul Alduy 5 July 2009 15 October 2009 (resignation)
Jean-Marc Pujol 22 October 2009 3 July 2020
Louis Aliot 3 July 2020

International relations

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France

Twin towns – sister cities

Perpignan is twinned with:

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


More than 10,000 students between the ages of 2 and 12 attend 61 preschools and primary schools in the city.[16] Perpignan also has 26 high schools.[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%
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on
Source: EHESS[18] and INSEE (1968-2017)[19]


The famous "Sanch Procession" folklore celebrated in Perpignan, Arles-sur-Tech, and Collioure.

Since 2004, the free three-day Guitares au Palais has been 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] Many street name signs in the city are in both French and Catalan.

Perpignan street name sign in French and Catalan.


Rugby league side Catalans Dragons' Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Like the rest of the south of France, Perpignan is a rugby stronghold. Their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, are regular competitors in the European Rugby Champions Cup and have been champions of the French Top 14 seven times (most recently in 2009). They play at the Stade Aimé Giral.

Their rugby league team Catalans Dragons plays in the British Super League. The Dragons' games in Perpignan against the Northern English-based sides are usually very popular with British rugby fans, with thousands descending on the city on the day of the game, including many holidaying fans travelling up from the Spanish Costa Brava to join those who came directly from the UK. The club was founded in 2000 as a merger of XIII Catalan with the nearby team AS Saint Estève to form Union Treiziste Catalane in 2000 who changed their name to Catalans Dragons upon transfer from the French to British rugby league system. The Dragons became the first non-English team to win the Challenge Cup when they defeated Warrington Wolves in the 2018 final. They are based at Stade Gilbert Brutus. AS Saint Estève's youth teams still operates as Saint-Estève XIII Mavericks in the National Division 2, while a new Elite One Championship club was formed in 2000 under the name Saint-Estève XIII Catalan which is in effect Catalans Dragons reserves; both play at the Stade Municipal in the suburb of Saint-Estève.

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

Construction work on Perpignan Cathedral began 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 likewise been designed by Vauban, were razed in 1904 to accommodate urban development. The main city gate, the Castillet is a small fortress built in the 14th century, which has been preserved. It was also 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 tastes 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, and other items. 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 République and theatre
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, claiming that he always had 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 large letters, «perpignan centre du monde» (French for "perpignan centre of the world").[28]

Perpignan train station


See also


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French)., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 6 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2021". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Commune de Perpignan (66136)". Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  6. ^ Fabricio Cardenas (2 March 2014). "Vieux papiers des Pyrénées-Orientales: Inondations en novembre 1892". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Fiches climatologique, Perpignan (66)" (PDF) (in French). Météo France. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  8. ^ "Normes et records 1961-1990: Perpignan - Rivesaltes (66) - altitude 42m" (in French). Infoclimat. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  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.
  14. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Sarasota Sister Cities Association, Sarasota Florida". Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Écoles". Marie de Perpignan. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  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, archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022, retrieved 31 December 2015
  25. ^ "Indoor markets bring new life to Perpignan | P-O Life". anglophone-direct. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Salvador Dali: painting the fourth dimension". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  27. ^ Elliott King in Dawn Adès (ed.), Dalí, Bompiani Arte, Milan, 2004, p. 448.
  28. ^ "Picture Gallery - Directory: /pix/fr/electric/emu/TGV/Duplex/misc". Retrieved 17 December 2016.