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Next weekend — Jan. 12-15Perpignan, France: 91.66 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted to Perpignan.

Probably the best way to start your exploration of Perpignan would be at the Castillet, a 14th-century red brick gateway and fortress that now houses the Casa Pairal, an interesting museum with exhibitions of Catalan regional artifacts, folkloric items and local crafts.

The tower offers an impressive view of the town and the Canigou mountain peak.

From here you can walk to the impressive Gothic Loge de Mer, which is covered with gargoyles and fussy balustrades. Across the courtyard is the 15th-century Palais de la Députation, once the parliament of the Roussillon area.

At the Place de la Loge, you can stop for a respite at one of the many bars and restaurants that line the surrounding streets.

Farther down, Rue St-Jean leads to the 14th-century Cathedral St. Jean, which has an elaborate interior of Catalan altar pieces and a magnificent wooden crucifix of the Dévôt Christ.

The Arab and Romany quarter is a maze of narrow streets with an assortment of North African shops and cafes and a daily market. At the center of the quarter is the Place du Puig, and if you pass through here and head to the top of the street, you will discover the Catalan church of St-Jacques, which dates to 1200.

At the top of the town sits the Palace of the Kings of Majorca. Tours are offered four times a day, or you can explore on your own. Of special interest is the old throne room, with its large fireplaces and the square tower with a double gallery awarding a fine view of the Pyrenees.

Next month — Feb. 9-11Sofia, Bulgaria: 192 pounds round tripFly Hemus Air from London Heathrow to Sofia.

Sofia offers a capital city’s worth of attractions, all within an easily walked compact area.

Start at the glittering interlocking domes of the Alexander Neveski Memorial Church. Completed in 1912, the church’s decor of Italian marble with Egyptian alabaster and Brazilian onyx, along with beautiful murals, frescoes and huge chandeliers, showcases the work of the craftsmen and artists from six countries who worked on the church over 30 years.

Next, visit the St. Sofia Church from which the city received its name. Beside the wall of the church is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and nearby is the grave of the Bulgarian national poet and writer Ivan Vazov, marked by an engraved boulder.

The National History Museum showcases artifacts such as bas-reliefs, ceramics and silverware from medieval times alongside collections from the National Revival period including folk costumes.

From there, visit the National Archaeological Museum housed in the Buyuk Mosque, with artifacts highlighting the country’s cultural history.

The Land and People Museum is a fairly new exhibition in the spacious surroundings of a former arsenal.

There you can find displays on minerals, precious and semi-precious stones and giant crystals. For visitors with more time to spend, the Ethnographic Museum and the National Art Gallery also are worth a visit.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net. Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stars and Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.


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