This far south, climate and geography alone would ensure a palpable Spanish influence. Moreover, a good part of PERPIGNAN's population is of Spanish origin – refugees from the Civil War and their descendants. The southern influence is further augmented by a substantial contingent of North Africans, including both Arabs and white French settlers repatriated after Algerian independence in 1962.
Perpignan's glory days were the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, when the kings of Mallorca held court here, and most of its historical interest derives from this period. Yet there are surprisingly few memorable monuments, and the city won't necessarily make a good first impression; street life ranges from the lively – flamenco buskers and such – to downright dirty and shabby, with numerous boarded-up business premises around the corner from chic boutiques. Few will want to stay more than a day or two; with your own transport, you may prefer to base yourself somewhere in the surrounding area.