in southern France, close to the Spanish border, is the former capital of the Kingdom of Majorca and Northern Catalonia, so there are Catalan influences everywhere, especially in the food. The town’s proximity to Barcelona means that many tourists will skip Perpignan for the famous northern Spanish city, but that’s a pity because it really has a lot to offer, especially for families.
If you find yourself in the region with children, then perhaps the first thing you should do is pick up a copy of 150 Idées Pour Les Enfants, published weekly by the local newspaper, La Gazette. When travelling with kids, many of the attractions can be spread out across the region so you really do need a hire car. You can pick up a family car at the airport on arrival or at the main railway station. When it comes to accommodation, the Hotel Novotel Perpignan
is the most obvious choice, with its comfortable family rooms, safe play areas and even a children’s library. For self-catering, there are a few properties for rent in the centre of Perpignan on rue Maréchal Foch.
The town itself is small enough to see on foot and is a maze of cobbled streets of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. There are also plenty of kids’ shops, such as Du Pareil au Même
. Perpignan Park, behind the Palais des Congrès has an excellent playground, as does Parc St Vicens – a good way to introduce the children to the town. If you come in summer, head straight for the beach at Canet Plage. There’s also a shallow lake south of the city at Villeneuve de la Raho
– good for camping, swimming, walking, and cycling. For eating out, kids will love the pirate-themed Rocher des Pirates in the Zone Commerciale Carrefour Claira
, where you’ll also find plenty of shopping opportunities.
There really is something for everybody in Perpignan and the surrounding area. Boys are sure to be enthralled by the Perpignan Aviation Museum
at Mas Pelégry, while the whole family will enjoy splashing around in Aqualand at Port Leucate
. For older children, Perpignan has a huge indoor climbing wall
at rue Léon Serpolet. There’s also a quad biking centre
in the Canigou mountains, just 20 minutes from Perpignan – a good way to see the surrounding countryside. If that sounds a bit extreme, Les Aventuriers de St Jean
is an adventure park by the lake in St Jean Pla de Corts, which incidentally offers good fishing too. More leisurely attractions include La Vallée des Tortues
, a tortoise park in Sorede. While the small picturesque village of Casteil might seem an unlikely place for a zoo, Casteil Animal Park
is home to lions, bears and monkeys. In cold weather, Les Bains des St Thomas
is a thermal spa situated within a stone amphitheatre. You can take turns looking after the kids while one of you sneaks off for a bit of pampering in the steam rooms. Perpignan enjoys around 300 days of sunshine every year, but if it should rain, you can always whisk them off to the indoor play park in Mas Quérido known as Royal Kids.