Perigueux is a bustling town in the so called ‘White Perigord’ (Le Perigord Blanc) part of the Perigord region. White because of the colour of the local limestone used for building in many towns in this area.
A trip to Perigueux reveals not one town but two. There is a large and lively Medieval Renaissance town and also a smaller Gallo Roman town. Both are worthy of a visit. The modern centre of Perigueux sits largely in the Medieval part of town. It is dominated by the massive St Front Cathedral which has a beautiful roof made up of five large domes. This was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
Further into the medieval centre you can wander through narrow lanes and admire the variety of stone and half timbered houses. Rue Limogeanne in the heart of the medieval sector has some beautiful wealthy merchant houses with inner courtyards and intricate sculpted stone detail above doors and windows.
Also not to be missed is the Maison du Patissier a 14th century building with an ornate 16th century door displaying a stone shell, symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago de la Compostella. Calvary Street, Rue de l'Abreuvoir and the Daumesnil passages all contain wonderful buildings.
Really this is enough to make Perigueux worth a visit but there is also a small but interesting Roman part of town. The highlight is the Gallo-Roman Vesunna Museum which is a museum built on top of the significant remains of a 1st century residence. The remains are impressive and the building designed by the acclaimed architect Jean Nouvel is also impressive. Outside is the remains of the Temple of Vesone. Nearby in the gardens of ‘Les Arenes’ are the remains of an amphitheatre which was once compared with that of Nimes and Arles and seated 20,000 people.
In this area is also the original cathedral of Perigueux, The Eglise Saint Etienne de la Cite. This is a lovely building, though protestants damaged rather a lot of it in 1577.
Perigueux is just one of the fascinating places to explore in this fascinating historical region. Learn more about Perigueux and many other places in all regions of the country in our detailed guide to France