What to do in Périgueux? Must-sees in the capital of Périgord !
Located in the east of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, in the heart of the Dordogne in the Périgord Blanc region, Périgueux is a city well worth visiting ! With its world-renowned heritage and gastronomic attractions, there’s plenty to do for a long weekend or an extended stay!
Strolling the streets of Périgueux
👉 In the old town, the Middle Ages are wonderfully evoked by the presence of many original buildings. The facades of timber-framed houses, trading outlets, fortified dwellings, everything takes you back to the city’s medieval past. No matter how many times you potter around the streets, you’ll find something new!
Old artisan district
👉 Luthiers, bookbinders, ceramists, blacksmiths… The soul of the historic center is alive with memories of the past, when artisans enlivened its cobbled streets through their daily labour. Some facades still bear the imprint of each activity, so keep an eye out for them!
Mataguerre Tower district
👉 The Mataguerre Tower sets the tone in this part of town ! The starting point for the surrounding streets, it is the gateway to the town’s medieval past and the historic district. Narrow alleyways are still home to some artisans and it’s a pleasure to wander through the labyrinthine alleyways.
Rue des Farges
👉 Take the stairs to the small passageway known as Ruelle des Farges and plunge into the town’s medieval past. Leave the modern world behind as you step into a pedestrian street which, in the Middle Ages, was once teeming with activity. In the appropriately named Forges Street, let your imagination wander, as you listen to the distant echoes of blacksmiths’ anvils, or the inhabitants calling out to each other from one building to the next.
👉 In the medieval quarter, the Cathedral Saint-Front stands proudly on the hill of Le Puy. It’s clearly the star of the show and it’s often compared to the Church of St. Marks in Venice, whilst its Byzantine style inspired Victor Hugo to nickname it the “great mosque of Périgueux”. It’s also worth noting that, after the architect Paul Abadie restored it in the 19th century, he then used the design for the iconic Sacré-Coeur basilica in Paris. And as if that isn’t enough, it is one of the outstanding sites on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. So, it’s got a lot going for it !
👂 Listen to the gentle melody of the cathedral bells ↘
To get a totally different perspective of Périgueux, take a rooftop tour of the cathedral: an unforgettable moment for lovers of architecture and history as well as offering a stunning panoramic view of the town, its Gallo-Roman quarter, the river and the city. To bring you back down to earth, sit on a bench in the Jardin du Thouin next to the cathedral and overlooking the south bank. For anyone wanting to take a magical selfie, go down to the bridge (the Pont des Barris), turn around and look up from the River Isle, it’s an unbelievable sight !
A Gallo-Roman museum
👉 Ready for a trip back in time? The Vesunna museum enables you to immerse yourself in the town’s Roman origins and explore the remains of a large Gallo-Roman residence. It’s like our very own Pompeii !
It was designed by Jean-Nouvel, a local architect of international renown, and is a perfect mix of ancient and modern. The museum boasts some very fine archaeological collections, telling the story of the ancient city and the lifestyles of its original inhabitants: the Pétrocores. Discover jewellery, ceramics and relics that bear witness to the daily lives of Périgueux’s founders.
A journey into the past
For 7/12 year-olds, an audioguide entitled ‘Apollinaris and the wrath of the Gods (Apollinaris et la colère des Dieux) makes the visit even more interactive for younger visitors.
👉 So that the whole family can get involved, there is even a treasure hunt that you can go on using the Terra Aventura app: there are lots of clues to gather and riddles to solve to find treasure during a stroll through the ancient city. If you follow the red-painted line drawn on the pavements throughout the area, you can discover the entire Gallo-Roman city (in addition to the museum) at various points. The most spectacular of which, is undoubtedly the recently installed footbridge leading into the mysterious interior of the Vésone tower.