Perigueux is a Gallo-Roman city going back to 16th century B.C. with a wealth of architecture including roman remains and the beautifully restored renaissance quarter in the town centre.
Périgueux, situated on the right bank of the river Isle, is the capital of the department of Dordogne in the Périgord area. The city is divided into three sections: the Cité (the old Roman town), Le Puy St-Front (the medieval town) on the slope of the hill, and to the west, the modern town. Périgueux is a cultural centre and offers many festivals, exhibitions and concerts especially during the Summer months.
The name Périgueux comes from the Petrocorii (Latinized Celtic name, meaning 'four tribes'), the Gallic people that held the area before the Roman conquest. Périgueux was their capital city. It was the Romans who transformed this town into an important settlement however, and a few Roman remains, as well as a medieval vieille ville (Old town), survive to this day.
The most striking is the Tour de Vésone, a round tower 24m/80ft high with an internal diameter of 17m/55ft which used to be a Gallo-Roman temple.
Near the church of St Etienne there are a few fragments of an amphitheatre, dismantled in the 3rd century, which originally had seating for 20,000 spectators.
The triangular Place Bugeaud is located in the centre of Périgueux, from which the picturesque old quarter of Puy-St-Front (the medieval town of Périgueux) extends eastward to the Cathedral of St-Front which is a Byzantine basilica, cross-nave style with five cupolas. Built on the site of an earlier church between 1125 and 1250, it was restored in the 19th C. by the architect of the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, who gave the exterior of the church an unduly Eastern aspect. The interior has five high domes and is almost completely undecorated. The cathedral is part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.
During the Hundred Years War the town withstood frequent attacks by English forces but was finally taken in 1356, to be returned to France four years later.
Other Places to Visit
The Musée du Périgord (the city's museum) is situated at the northern end of rue Limogeanne and boasts an extensive and important prehistoric collection as well as some very beautiful Gallo-Roman mosaics and exquisite Limoges enamels. Also to look out for are the portraits of the twelve Caesars.
The Musée de Vesunna is an archeological Museum designed by international architect Jean Nouvel. It is located in the heart of the ancient city of Périgueux.
From the Pont des Barris there is a fine view of St-Front and the riverbank with its old houses.
Le 'Petit Train' run by the local tourist office. This is the little white train you will see in the streets and it will take you all around Périgueux's most interesting sights, helping you to select the places you wish to see in more detail in your own time
Market and shopping
Périgueux really comes to life on Wednesday and Saturday mornings when there is a fois gras and truffle market on place St-Louis in Puy St-Front (November to March) and a food market near the cathedral on place de la Clautre.
The finest medieval street is the narrow rue Limogeanne, lined with Renaissance mansions, now turned into boutiques and delicatessens, intermingled with fast-food outlets.
The rue Limogeanne and place St-Louis are a good bet for restaurants serving up top-notch French food on menus. The Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and Place du Coderc in the 'vieille ville' are popular for cafés and bar terraces where you can enjoy a démi (half pint), or espresso.