Standing in the station concourse of Perpignan in 1963, the man with his twirled mustache knocked onto the floor with his crutch several times, caught up in a hallucinatory inspiration and calling out theatrically: “C’est le centre du monde!“ – This is the centre of the world.
As the master of surrealism Salvador Dalí had already seen great potential of the city and his monumental painting “La Gare de Perpignan“ is considered to be an autobiography of the paintor, we also wanted to form an opinion about this important city in the midst of the French Roussillon.
A beautiful coastal highway let us along the picutresque Spanish villages Llança, Colera, and Portbou to Perpignan, located 30 km away from the Spanish border.
We arrived at the city, being illusionary immersed into the beauty of the mountains and the vastness of the sea, and located only a few kilometres beyond the Costa Brava. Perpignan is a lively, historic city, marvellously situated between the Pyrenees on one side and the sea on the other side, and is tempting with French charme.
Fascinated, we were strolling along the small alleys of the old town. Paved streets were awe-inspiring, bright façades were shining, painted in pastels, and buildings were inspired by the Gothic style. They all reminded of the time when Perpignan had been known for being the capital of the kingdom of Mallorca.
The completely renewed Castle of the Kings as well as the cathedral Cloître Du Cimetière St. Jean are worth a visit and above the landmark of the city Le Castillet the Catalan flag is fluttering. Due to the proximity to Spain and also its history, the city in the north of Catalonia not only proves itself with French architecture and all sorts of local delicacies but also attracts many people every year with ist Catalan fair and lightness to come to Perpignan.
We were making our way along the small boutiques and beautiful places, exploring those mysterious little courtyards with all its cafés and restaurants which offered a perfect place to rest.
This day, Perpignan did full justice to its reputation as one of the most sun ripened and hottest cities of France and so we didn’t want to miss the chance to search for cooling in the French department store called Lafayette and to finish the day off with an inspiring shopping tour.
In how far Dalí’s visionary opinion about “The Centre of the World“, which is written in capital letters onto the central station of Perpignan, can be shared among the people is left to themselves. Nevertheless, at this point it might be a good idea to think of the words that a Spanish artist spoke benevolently:
„If there was only one truth, one wouldn’t be able to draw houndreds of paintings about the same topic.“
– Pablo Picasso.