It was such a glorious day we walked until our legs ached, and were fully rewarded for our efforts. Campo Santo
Just beyond the Cathedral Saint Jean is the Camp Santo, a 14th century burial ground. It's a large grassy quadrangle with tombs in the surrounding walls. We passed through the Place of the French Revolution, then along a street next to part of an old city wall. Then we climbed a staircase to the top of the wall, past the site of an old convent, and the site of an old caserne, to the St. James Church. We were just in time for a funeral, but since we didn't know the deceased, we skipped this church. We did note a lot of men attending the funeral who looked as if they very seldom wore the clothes they had on. Steps to the Majorcan Palace
The Garden of Miranda contains specimens of most of the native plants to Perpignan. It was supposed to be open, but the gate was locked. So we walked down the street towards the Place Cassanyes where we encountered a bustling street market, with shoes, clothing, herbs and produce and lots more. From our reading we believe that the participants were Maghrebi who had fled Algeria and Tunisia for the safety of France in the 1960s. We saw voluminous robes, white and black fezes, and signs in Arabic. There was probably more talking and Statue at palace entrance standing around than actually buying or selling; this was clearly a major social event for this community.
We were heading for the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, and we had just come up to one corner of the large five-pointed ramparts, when we noticed a sign on our tourist map for a church of Jesus Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours. So we detoured a few blocks, and found a church looking just like a Mormon church anywhere in the U.S. It was uncanny! Courtyard of the palace
We returned through a neighborhood that was decidedly more prosperous than the one surrounding the market. There were parks and pink and white houses with red-tiled roofs, many with plaster decorations over their doors and pocket-handkerchief gardens.
We rounded two more points of the huge ramparts, and then came to the entrance -- an opening in the very high wall which immediately turned left up a Bell Tower long ramp-like staircase, cut a switchback and continued to ramp up, then turned left over the bridge past the inner wall and into the lovely park-like gardens. We imagined the entrance ramp being used for men and women on horseback and foot to approach the palace; what an impressive entrance. The well-maintained brickwork almost gleams in the sunshine.
Between the walls is where the King of Majorca used to keep his pet lions. Special flocks of sheep grazed in the gardens; they were the lions' food. View over Perpignan
Admission was free, but we would have happily paid. There are no furnishings of interest, but the architecture is wonderful, with a great central courtyard, and two chapels, one on top of the other. There were separate, rather small apartments for the king and queen; the frescoes on the walls of the upper chapel are being restored.
To our great delight, we found that a good museum curator had produced a charming exhibit describing the church bells of Rousillon. One entered through a clever revolving door and immediately had the sensation of being surrounded by Barbershop Window the high church towers, which were really cardboard mockups. At eye level, in illuminated glass cases, were ancient sculptures and friezes depicted the ringing of the bells for weddings, funerals, exorcisms, fires, and enemy attacks. A special display showed a discovery, in August, 2000, of a mold in the ground for casting church bells in the sixteenth century. The only thing missing was the sounds of the bells.
The palace is situated on a high hill in the middle of downtown Perpignan. We walked around the walls and gazed out over the surrounding countryside at the lovely views. The land between the castle walls and the At the parking garage surrounding five-sided star-shaped ramparts was taken over by rabbits, who were out enjoying the sun and the green plants. It was so peaceful in the spacious palace grounds that we hated to return to the activity of the city.
Along the way we passed a barbershop with an exhibit of old barbering equipment -- razors and clippers and an amazing stainless steel hair dryer. We also noticed that a downtown parking garage is gaily decorated with huge cartoon sculptures symbolic of the city's activities. Notre Dame des Anges
We almost missed the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges, which was not marked on the map. But it's a thirteenth-century monastery building put up by the King of Majorca for his son who gave up the throne to become a monk. Then, as now, it's always a benefit to be the boss' son! The building was used as a chapel for a military hospital in the nineteenth century. It was then dedicated to Notre Dame des Anges and decorated with frescoes showing various allegories of war.
All this culture made us hungry. Today we were lucky to find a Michelin restaurant just at the right time, and enjoyed a leisurely and delicious major meal at Les Trois Soeurs, in a room with stone walls and good food. We explored the daily menu, with salad of greens and foie gras, shellfish, then duck and fish. Yummy of course!