Making the most of your matchday
The Perpignan weekender is the highlight of the season for many Super League fans who are travelling to watch their team play against the Catalans Dragons.
Make the most of your time in the south of France with Catalan Media's guide to the perfect Perpignan experience.
It's so much more than 80 minutes of Rugby League... this area has much to offer fans who are visiting the city for one day only or spending more time to take in the surrounding area.
Ask us anything - email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info go to the club website www.catalansdragons.com
Perpignan party people
Most fans head to the red-bricked major monument Le Castillet (no. 2 on the map) to eat and drink in the many surrounding bars, but Perpignan offers much more than sunshine singalongs.
The centre of the city has a castle dating back to 1276 - the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca. Excellent place to stroll around and picnic and learn about the ancient history of the region.
There is designer shopping at the Galeries Lafayette (across the river from Le Castillet) which has a rooftop café terrace for excellent views of the city centre.
Great restaurants line either side of the central Basse river, a tributary of the bigger River Tete which also crosses the city boundaries.
Pedallo boats glide between family picnics on the grassy riverside banks.
Les Halles Vauban is a beautifully refurbished al fresco dining experience - under cover!
It combines a fresh food market with the very latest street-food and drink.
Café Vienne is one of the oldest and most well-known city centre restaurants. Its art-deco interior and extensive al fresco eating area provides visitors with all-day-long eating and extensive menus to suit all tastes.
The ticket office and turnstiles are at the away end of the ground. Pre-booking you can select your seat but on matchday you can only select the Stand. The away fans are mainly in the Puig Aubert. Prices are as follows:-
Puig Aubert stand
Bonzoms Stand - Silver
Bonzoms Stand - Gold
Bonzoms Stand - Official
Once you have your ticket you will queue through security then be asked to scan the barcode on your ticket on the turnstile scanner - stewards are there to assist.
There are many bars and food outlets within the stadium, but they do not take cash or card. You need to buy plastic tokens from the Jeton booths alongside the food stalls.
Try to estimate how much food and drink you will need and purchase the correct number of tokens to avoid queueing again. You will also need to buy a token for a plastic beaker (large or small) which is refundable at any stage.
There is a club shop selling souvenirs and replica kit beneath the Puig Aubert (away) stand.
At the ground...
Barcelona-bound... Nou Camp May 18th
RUGBY LEAGUE will be centre-stage at one of the world’s most iconic sporting venues this season as Catalans Dragons take on Wigan Warriors at FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday May 18th.
Final details have now been made for an epic showdown between the Challenge Cup holders and Super League champions and organisers are hoping to encourage as many supporters as possible to attend the near-100,000 capacity ground.
The idea for the fixture was conceived when the Dragons took the Challenge Cup on a half-time lap of honour during the Catalan derby between Barça and Girona in September.
Dragons President Bernard Guasch, coach Steve McNamara and the players walked around the pitch and made such an impression, they were invited back to play.
Guasch said: “It is difficult to estimate but if we could get 35,000 or 40,000 people watching a game of Rugby League at the home of the world’s largest football team it would be an historic day.
“It is such an honour to be invited to play at Camp Nou and I don’t think we fully realise yet the impact of this event for our club, our competition and our sport. It's huge for a rugby team in Northern Catalonia to be able to play at Camp Nou.
“It is important now that we all work hard to make this day a real success. We must take the opportunity of a hand outstretched to the Catalans and to our sport. Rugby is hugely successful here in Barcelona, it is very popular whether it is League or Union. People here love the the oval ball, not as much as Barça of course, but there is support.
“The prospect of playing a game in one of the biggest stadiums in the world is exceptional. I hope this game is the beginning of a great story between our two clubs. It will be an historic day for the Dragons and, a few months after having won the Challenge Cup at Wembley, we’ll play two consecutive games at the Camp Nou and then at Anfield.
“We must take every opportunity to promote Rugby League. This is the greatest sport of all and we need to let other people know about it.
“We need to encourage more people to start playing or supporting Rugby League in this region and this is the perfect opportunity.”
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan was equally delighted at the prospect, he said: “This is a landmark moment in Super League’s history, and we are extremely proud to play our part.
“Everybody in England is well aware of the reputation of Barcelona and Camp Nou and whether you’re a rugby supporter or a football supporter, this place is iconic.
“That’s what is so special about this fixture. It’s the Champions of Super League against the cup winners. That will be a spectacular game, a game in which many people will be interested.
“I applaud Bernard Guasch and the Dragons for their ambition and innovative approach to growing the game and the profile of Super League. They share Wigan Warriors’ approach to driving the growth of Rugby League on the international stage.
“It’s a fantastic concept that will capture the imagination of sports fans across Europe, and I believe it will provide a shot in the arm for the new era of Super League by underlining the competition’s ambition.”
Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has pledged to do all he can to encourage his club’s supporters to attend. Barcelona are away that weekend for the final game of their La Liga season and the 16.30 (local time) kick-off will allow Barça fans to watch their team on TV and also attend the rugby match.
Bartomeu said: “This will be a grand game between two great teams, and I’m sure there will be a party atmosphere at the Camp Nou. I encourage the Dragons supporters to treat our stadium like their home and for Wigan and Barça fans to also share the experience of seeing rugby league played at the Camp Nou.
“These are two champion teams and as well as Dragons and Warriors supporters there will be Barça fans and people who are interested in sport in general.”
Already, the President has contacted FC Barcelona’s many Socios (supporters’ groups) and has offered free tickets to the game to anyone who attends the Camp Nou Museum Tour.
AS A YOUNG footballer, playing for Everton Reserves, Matty Smith could only dream of playing at the Nou Camp. Now the Dragons’ scrum half has seen his dreams come true, he said: “I know how special it was when the boys went to parade the cup around the stadium. I’ve spoken to a few of them and they told me how amazing that was. And now we’re going to be playing there which is unbelievable.
“My little boy loves Lionel Messi so he’s over the moon. And I think for any football fan, or any fan of sport in general, it would be amazing to go to the Nou Camp.
“If you look at the fixtures, we’ll be at Nou Camp one weekend and then Anfield the week after for the Magic Weekend. That’s a pretty special couple of weeks.”
CATALANS SUPPORTER Robert Nogues, 86, is one of the Dragons’ most loyal fans. A lifelong player and supporter of Rugby League in France, he said: “It’s incredible. For French Rugby League, and for the whole of Catalonia to come together for this game is unbelievable.
“I have been here since this club was born and I never thought I’d see the day when Catalans Dragons played at Wembley and Camp Nou. I am so proud of this club.”
Regional favourites, Cassoullet (above) a hearty sausage and bean stew, not to be confused with Crème Catalane (below) a set cold custard with crunchy caramelised sugar on top
Perpignan is packed with great cafes and restaurants with every taste catered for in a wide variety of styles and price brackets.
You can expect to be paying 15-20 Euros for Entrecote (rump) steak and frites (chips) and, don't forget, the French like their meat rare so it's usually best to order a little more well done than back home.
Salads (salades) and fish (poisson) dishes are amazing in the city but if you want a true taste of the region, go for the Cassoulet. It's a hot stew of beans, sausages, pork and sometimes duck which might not sound too appetising on a hot day in the sun but, once tried, never forgotten. Truly delicious and a source of pride to individual chefs. Very filling, order a starter (entrée) portion unless you're very hungry.
Finish up with a Crème Catalane (see right) or Iles Flottantes (meringues in custard) for a true taste of local cuisine.
A day at the rugby in Perpignan wouldn't be the same without a cold beer or glass of the local plonk.
Most fans gather at Le Castillet for a pre-match singalong and there are bars there that cater especially for the rugby crowd, with outdoor beer and wine taps.
There are often queues to the bar and especially to the toilets at the back of the bars, so if you don't like waiting why not try other parts of town.
Pelforth, Kronenberg and Estrella are popular brands of beer and you can pay between three and five euros for a pint of draught (biere pression grande) depending where you stop.
Of course, being France, wines are available everywhere. Order a glass (verre), bottle (bouteille) or half-litre (demi pichet) of the local red (rouge), white (blanc) or rose and you'll be surprised at the fine quality of vin being produced in the Languedoc Roussillon region these days.
The friendly Dragons
Catalans Dragons provide open training sessions where fans can get to meet the players.
If you're in town a couple of days before the match you could go along, check with the club website www.catalansdragons.com for times and dates.
The Stade Gilbert Brutus has seating on three sides and a small standing area.
Away fans tend to occupy the Puig Aubert Stand.
The club shop and offices are beneath the Puig Abert Stand
Food and drink is available behind all three stands.
Finding your way to the stadium...
There are a number of ways to get to the Stade Gilbert Brutus, which lies to the north of the city, near the airport.
You can walk from Le Castillet (around 25 minutes) or take a free bus service to the ground. A taxi will cost 10-15 euros.
The Gilbert Brutus is at the north-east of the city, near to the airport of Perpignan. The address is : Stade Gilbert Brutus - Avenue de l’aérodrome - 66000 Perpignan.
By car :
If you are approaching Perpignan on the A9 (from Montpellier-Toulouse)
Take the exit N°41 - Perpignan North - Follow AIRPORT
Join the D900 - Follow AIRPORT
Take the exit Avenue de l’Aérodrome - Haut Vernet
At the airport roundabout, take the 5th exit onto the D117. You’ll find the Gilbert Brutus Stadium on your left, you can't miss the floodlights.
Driving from Spain - Via the E15 toll motorway and A9
Take the exit N°42 - Perpignan South - Follow PERPIGNAN CITY-CENTER
Stay on the D900
Take the exit N°7 D117 - Follow Foix/Airport/Haut-Vernet
At the roundabout take the 1st exit on the right onto the D117 and the Gilbert Brutus Stadium is ahead on your left
There is free parking on the streets around the ground and a number of free car parks but these can fill up quickly on matchday so you may have to park further afield or in the many city centre car parks.
Remember, you can take the bus for FREE to and from the stadium, just make sure you keep your match ticket.
By train :
On the high speed TGV line, Perpignan is approximately:
1h20 to Barcelona
1h30 to Montpellier (1h50 with the TER)
2h50 to Toulouse (via Narbonne)
5h00 to Paris
Further information on : http://www.voyages-sncf.com/
Some airlines have direct flights to the Perpignan-Rivesaltes Airport, based just six minutes to the Gilbert Brutus Stadium by car.
Many fans choose to fly to Girona, over the border in Spain. It takes approximately 1 and a half hours to driver to Perpignan from Girona.
Further information on : http://www.aeroport-perpignan.com/
By Bus :
On a Catalans Dragons game day, all the buses from CTPM Company will be free for supporters of both teams on presentation of their game day ticket.
Fans can take advantage of this offer by taking the bus from any bus stop in the town centre to go to the Gilbert Brutus Stadium.
The bus routes that pass by the Gilbert Brutus Stadium are 4 - 12 - 13 - 14. All of these buses stop at the bus stop BRUTUS (behind the swimming pool on Avenue de l'aérodrome).
To return to Perpignan, a special bus will depart the stadium from behind the swimming pool on the opposite side of the road from the drop off every 15 minutes after the game and head into the city centre.