It’s 10 years since Catalans first entered Super League, and if you haven’t yet been, it’s certainly worth the trip.
Let’s be honest, a weekend in the south of France is slightly more appealing than a Sunday afternoon in Hull or Widnes.
The Dragons are the perfect franchise club. A great set-up, a passionate fanbase and they have generally been competitive in the last decade. At home, they are a tough outfit. Their Achilles heel have been their away performances.
Here are five tips if you’re planning on going. Please add your own experiences in the comments!
Be flexible with your flights
There’s always a scramble when the fixtures come out to get flights sorted, and getting direct flights to Perpignan is certainly a challenge. Don’t be scared, therefore, to fly in to other airports. Carcassonne is a small airport, but there’s a free shuttle to the railway station which can then get you pretty much anywhere. Another option is flying to Barcelona Girona, and getting the excellent Catalans Sports Tours to pick you up. You could fly in to Barcelona, and spend some time in the Spanish city, before getting a bus or train to Perpignan for the match. I once drove from Warrington to London Stansted to get a direct flight in to Perpignan – £25 return, bargain. I also bumped in to a London Broncos fan who watched virtually every Catalans home game, when there wasn’t a clash with the Broncos at least, thanks to the cheap flights.
The beer queue at the match
Don’t make the mistake of queuing for a beer at the match and getting to the front without a token. You’ll need to queue up again. You need to exchange your cash for a token at a separate queue, and then use that token to get a well deserved beverage.
It’s not always hot
Unless you’re fortunate to support a team that always draws the Dragons in the height of summer, be careful not to under pack. It can get chilly in the evenings in February and March, which one year resulted in me wearing practically everything I had packed to the match, despite having been a fortnight earlier the year before and it being sweltering.
Meet new people
A recent survey revealed more than 50% of people care more about where they go on a city break than who they go with. I can go with that. I want to go to watch the match. If I can find someone to go with, great. That even meant going with a Whitehaven fan for a few years. Seriously though, a weekend away following your team is a great way to meet new people, and the chances are, if they’ve made the effort to go to Perpignan for a game, you’ll bump in to them elsewhere following your team.
Getting to the match
There is a free shuttle bus that runs from Castillet in the city centre to the Stade Gilbert Brutus and back again after the match, if you’ve got a match ticket. You can buy your match tickets from your club back in the UK, where your club will receive 10% of the sale too. So it’s a no brainer. Don’t make the mistake after the match of getting on the wrong coach though – I know of a fan who ended up in Barcelona when he was staying in Lloret de Mar having got on the wrong coach, presumably in a drunken state.
Share your tips and recommendations below!