10 largest cities in France




Périgueux is a French commune, the most populous of Périgord, located in the center-east of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Capital of the Dordogne department since 1791, the town had 29,966 inhabitants in 2017, for an urban area totaling more than 102,000 inhabitants the same year.

Labeled "4 flowers", Périgueux is the cultural and tourist capital of the Périgord blanc, in the Isle valley. The city offers tourists a Gallo-Roman, medieval and Renaissance historical heritage. Recognized as a city of art and history, Périgueux has 44 registered or classified historical monuments, and three museums labeled Museums of France, two of which are municipal. The city preserves and enhances its rich civil, military and religious heritage, including its Saint-Front cathedral, listed as historical monuments and as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city dates from the 1st century BC during the Roman occupation in Gaul: the Romans settled in the plain of Isle and created the city of Vesunna, on the site of the current southern district. This was the Roman capital of the city of the Petrocores. The city of Périgueux was born in 1240 from the union of "the City" (the ancient Vesunna) and "Puy-Saint-Front". Since then, it remains the center of Périgord, historic subdivision of Aquitaine, then is the prefecture of the French department of Dordogne. It grew again in 1813 with the former municipality of Saint-Martin.

In economic terms, Périgueux, the center of the main employment area of ​​the department, is home to the head offices of several regional companies. The town has an employer of some 500 employees, the Technicentre (the Toulon workshops) of the SNCF. Benefiting from tourism for its heritage, it is also a notable gastronomic stopover in the heart of Périgord. Various cultural festivities and sports competitions are organized to liven up the region.

Its inhabitants are called the Périgourdins, sometimes the Pétrocoriens, name taken from the people who had Vesunna as their capital.



Around 200 BC, "the Petrocorians inhabited the region between the Dordogne and the Vézère", according to Venceslas Kruta. They settled during this period on the heights on the left bank of the Isle and created, on the current territory of Coulounieix-Chamiers, a fortified camp at La Boissière, also known under the name of "Camp de César à la Curade. ". The Petrocoros were in Gaul and not in Aquitaine, because before the Roman conquest these two territories were separated by the Garumna river, as Julius Caesar wrote.

In 52 BC, they provide Vercingetorix about 5,000 warriors, to help him face the Roman legions of Julius Caesar.

In 27 BC, during the administrative organization of Gaul carried out by Augustus, Périgueux was placed in the province of Aquitaine. The La Boissière camp was abandoned and the Gallo-Roman Vesunna, future Périgueux, was created between 25 and 16 BC and developed by the Romanized inhabitants, having preserved their Gallic deities. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, this Roman city prospered and was embellished with temples, baths, amphitheater, forum, etc. Vesunna is credited with 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. This became at the end of the third century the capital of the city of Petrocores. At the end of the third century, following the invasion attributed to the Alamans, the Roman city shrank over five and a half hectares, retreating to a small plateau behind the ramparts. Integrating the north-western half of the amphitheater of Vesunna, these walls are built by reusing elements of the monuments of the city (vestiges remain of these ramparts) and this third city takes the name of Civitas Petrucoriorum ("city of the Petrocores "), A place which will become" the City ".

Vésone is destroyed around the year 410 by the barbarians, favoring the appearance in the life and seventh centuries of Puy-Saint-Front.

Middle Ages
In the ninth century, the Normans, going up the Isle, plundered the City on several occasions. Towards the end of the tenth century, to the northeast and on the edge of the Isle, around a monastery that Bishop Frotier had built in honor of Saint Front, a new fortified center developed, named for this period the "village of Puy-Saint-Front". To protect themselves from invaders, the two neighboring towns built walls.

Around 1040, Périgueux was disturbed by disturbances due to the currency struck by the count of Périgord, Hélie II. Shortly after, Bishop Girard de Gourdon, considering it defective and of poor quality and having prohibited it, Count Aldebert II, son of Helie II, decided to prove, arms in hand, that she fits. As a result, the City must take part in a long and murderous war against the count. The few houses placed under the protection of the new religious establishment of Puy-Saint-Front were set on fire around 1099; the convent and the town were soon to be rebuilt.

Many pilgrims come to meditate on the place where the relics of Saint Front are kept81; in the twelfth century, the number of houses increased and the town grew larger and larger. However, over time, the inhabitants of the village split up; around 1130, in a quarrel with the convent, part of the bourgeoisie of Puy-Saint-Front allied with Count Hélie-Rudel. This situation arouses his envy, convinced that after having conquered Puy-Saint-Front, it would be easier for him to finally subdue the City, which none of his ancestors succeeded in doing. At the same time, the counts dominated the Puy-Saint-Front.

Around 1150, Boson III, known as de Grignols, had a large and strong tower erected, intended to command and monitor the City, which he had just seized. But this attempt at oppression was fatal to him and his descendants, because it excited the anger of King Henry II of England, who had become Duke of Aquitaine by marriage. The tower was destroyed in 1182, at which time, following a treaty with Count Hélie V, the Puy-Saint-Front was handed over to the son of Henry II of England, Richard, who destroyed all the fortifications built by him and his predecessor. It was during the same period, at the end of the 12th century, that the “village of Puy-Saint-Front” was organized into a municipality.

After having confiscated the Duchy of Aquitaine from Jean sans Terre and having reunited it with the crown of France, Philippe Auguste demands that the peoples and the great of this duchy pay him homage. Hélie V and the inhabitants of the future city of Périgueux then take an oath of loyalty to the French monarch in 1204.


For many years, the Puy-Saint-Front and the counts live in harmony. The municipal organization of this city has long been recognized and constituted by the royal authority. As for the City, it does not encounter any difficulty with the counts. The state of peace lasts until 1239; a certain trust even exists between Count Archambaud II and the city because, at that time, the latter paid him 50 pounds in exchange for giving up the annual pension of 20 pounds, which she owed him every Christmas.

To ensure mutual protection and assistance, and so that the rivalries are extinguished, Périgueux was born in 1240, from a treaty of union of the two boroughs established a few hundred meters from each other: the City - resulting from la Vésone gallo-romaine - the town of the bishop and the count of Périgord, and the bourgeois town of Puy-Saint-Front.

Between the counts of Périgord and the new town, various hostilities lasted until 1250, when the discord was appeased by Bishop Pierre III de Saint-Astier. In the thirteenth century, new bourgeois settled in Périgueux in order to increase their land holdings, by buying plots which became available, while taking advantage of the privileged relations they had with their parishes of origin, where they still kept properties. Returning to the region of their ancestors, cloth merchants also came to settle in Périgueux, acquiring many rents and lands in a large radius around the city. Count Archambaud III has other quarrels with Périgueux: in 1266, it is about the manufacture of the coin, and in 1276 about its value. This power struggle continues from generation to generation. In principle, the counts affect sovereign power, claiming to be the sole owners of the village of Puy-Saint-Front since the twelfth century, then by seeking, in the fourteenth century, to obtain royal favor. These long conflicts ended in the fourteenth century, when the count of Périgord, Roger-Bernard, son of Archambaud IV, became the vassal of the English who confirmed the bourgeois of Périgueux ("Mayors, Consuls & Citizens of the City") in their possessions and their jurisdiction.

Since the middle of the fourteenth century, the countryside around Périgueux has experienced a period of serious crisis, marked in particular by a very sharp drop in the population due to the devastating effects of the Black Death and the Hundred Years' War. During this one, Périgueux remained faithful to the kingdom of France, even when it was occupied by the English between 1360 and 1363. During this period, the counts and their descendants, residing most often in their castle of Montignac, pledged allegiance to the Kingdom of England. Charles VI confiscates them lands and titles for the benefit of his brother Louis of Orleans. By cession or by marriage with the Orléans family, Périgord passed into the hands of the house of Châtillon in 1437, then into the house of Albret in 1481.

During the late Middle Ages, everywhere the lack of arms led to a contraction of cultivated space: in the very heart of the vineyard of the parish of Saint-Martin, “deserts” appear.

Modern era
In May 1472, by his letters patent, King Louis XI confirmed the privileges of the city, following the death of Charles, Duke of Guyenne, his brother.

The wars of religion are more deadly for Périgueux than was the Hundred Years War. Périgueux was taken on August 6, 1575 by the Calvinists, commanded by Favas and Guy de Montferrand, then plundered and occupied. That same year, at Puy Saint-Front, the reliquary and reliquary containing the remains of the holy bishop were stolen, transported to the castle of Tiregand where the saint's bones were thrown into the Dordogne. Périgueux remained in the hands of Protestants until 1581, when Captain Belsunce, governor of the city, allowed it to be kidnapped by the Catholic Jean de Chilhaud. Périgord joined the crown of France in 1589, when its penultimate count, son of Jeanne d'Albret, became king of France under the name of Henri IV, while leaving the county in the prerogative of his sister Catherine de Bourbon. The latter, who died in 1604, will be the last titular countess of Périgord.


In the seventeenth century, under the reign of Louis XIII, the city is on the border of a region subject to rebels, which extends to the south of the territory corresponding to the current department of Dordogne. Périgueux therefore undergoes peasant revolts but is not part of the towns or castles, such as Grignols, Excideuil then Bergerac, which were taken by the peasants during this period. In October 1651, during the Fronde, Périgueux welcomed the troops of the Prince of Condé. In August 1653, it remained the only town in the South-West hostile to the king, a situation which lasted until the following September 16, when its inhabitants put outside the slingers. It was in 1669 that the cathedral seat moved from Saint-Étienne-de-la-Cité, ruined, to Saint-Front cathedral, the former church of the abbey of the same name. In autumn 1698, the misery of the last few years, which had become unbearable, led the bishop of Périgueux to appeal to "the goodness of the King".

In March 1783, the city experienced one of the most important floods on the Isle, the water flooding the causeway of the Saint-Georges bridge and rising to 5.21 meters, the flood record recorded for Périgueux88. The clergy, the nobility and the third estate come from all over the province to elect their deputies to the Estates General of 1789. After the creation of the departments in 1790, the departmental assembly meets alternately in Bergerac, Périgueux and Sarlat. Périgueux definitely became the capital of the Dordogne in September 1791.

Contemporary period
Under the First Empire, the city, seat of the prefecture, grew in 1813 by merging with the former municipality of Saint-Martin. In 1857, Périgueux saw the arrival of the railroad from Coutras and from 1862, the installation of repair shops for locomotives and cars of the Compagnie du Paris-Orléans. This activity still survives at the beginning of the 21st century in the Toulon district. It was also in the 19th century that two architects worked in Périgueux. Louis Catoire built the Palais de Justice, the Coderc covered market and the Theater - which no longer exists - and various buildings on Place Bugeaud. Paul Abadie restores the Saint-Front cathedral.

Second World War
In 1939, following the advance of German forces in Alsace and Lorraine, the inhabitants of these two regions were evacuated and distributed in the Center-West and South-West of France. Périgueux thus welcomed, from September 5, 1939, thousands of Strasbourg residents; Strasbourg town hall is located at 2 rue Voltaire, in the premises of the Chamber of Commerce. The administrative services returned to Strasbourg in July 1940, but the mayor, Charles Frey, remained in Périgueux until November 28, 1944.

Regiments dissolved on French territory are authorized to organize the Armistice Army in the free zone, to maintain order. The 26th infantry regiment therefore became the new regiment of the Dordogne, in August 1940, in Périgueux. Gradually, the Resistance appears in the city: movements and networks are created, for the preparation and distribution, for example, of false papers or underground newspapers. The resistance fighters, engaged in the army, organize sabotage and attacks. After having served as an ammunition depot for the Resistance, the Institution Saint-Joseph served as a meeting place where, in June 1942, the resistance movement Combat was founded, which organized the maquis AS, formed the 50th and 26th RI. The founders are André Boissière, Gabriel de Choiseul-Praslin, Georgette Claude-Gérard, Raymond Faro, H. Hortala, Edmond Michelet, Jean Sigala and J. Villot. On October 3, 1942, the first explosive attack damaged the kiosk of the French Legion of Fighters in the city, located on Place Bugeaud, and caused a rift between the Gaullists and the Pétainists. The effects of Vichy's collaborationist policy ended up degrading the popularity of Philippe Pétain, leading to a certain number of hairy people in the Resistance.

On November 11, 1942, German troops invaded the free zone. The German convoys enter the city and settle in the Daumesnil district, forcing the 26th Infantry Regiment to disband six days later. The Gestapo moved to the current Place du Général de Gaulle and was part of the local administration at the time, helped by Paul Lapuyade, departmental delegate of the Legion of French volunteers, who collected a lot of information for the Nazis.


The Resistance intensified in 1943, causing a bomb attack on October 9, which targeted the Germans for the first time, choosing the headquarters of the Gestapo as a target. But reprisals were immediately triggered, leading to the arrest of seventeen resistance fighters and the deportation of most of them. On November 9, a new attack, directed against the Germans at the main office of the gendarmerie, caused extensive material damage and injuries. A repressive operation was immediately organized, targeting mainly the Jews, of whom 1,672 were registered in the district and 700 in the city itself. A major sabotage instigated by the regional committee of Mavericks and partisans, carried out by men from Camp Wodli, put out of use, on December 13, 1943, one of the most powerful lifting cranes in France, parked for repair in the workshops of the SNCF of Périgueux.

On May 10, 1944, the militia and the Vichy police arrested and gathered 211 people in the Palace room, then transferred them to the sites of the Atlantic Wall, to perform forced labor, interned them in Haute-Vienne or deport them to Germany. On D-Day, the Allies land in Normandy. The Perigord resistance fighters then attacked military objectives in order to paralyze the enemy. The Germans counterattack, killing more than 500 civilians. Faced with this situation, the staff of the French Interior Forces, newly formed, gave the Germans an ultimatum of August 17, but received no response. On August 18, a plan to surround Périgueux was underway. At the same time, the landing of Provence provokes a sudden outcome for the city: Hitler decides the withdrawal of his troops based in the south of France. After having shot, at first, 35 resistance fighters, then 14 others who had been interned, the Germans abandoned the city, without destruction or combat, on August 19, 1944. On August 24, 1944, the liberation parade took place in which Roger Ranoux , Yves Péron, Édouard Valéry participate, with many other resistance fighters.

Since the end of the war
After heavy rains leading to accelerated snowmelt, the Isle entered a hundred-year flood and reached its maximum at 4.50 meters on December 8, 1944, causing 7,000 victims and flooding a third of Périgueux.

In 1945, Hans Kowar, a German prisoner of war, worked in Bergerac, in Nastringues, on a farm belonging to the family of the priest Henri Cellerier, who taught the German language in Périgueux. The two men become friends and, back home, Kowar shows his town, Amberg, to Cellerier. In 1961, a municipal delegation from Périgord went to Amberg and the twinning was formalized on October 2, 1965. The association of friends of Amberg was created in 1993 to give rise until today to numerous exchanges between students, such as the one that takes place every year again, between the Clos-Chassaing college and the Erasmus Gymnasium.

In 1964, the 5th regiment of hunters on horseback moved to the Daumesnil district. Attached to the 15th Infantry Division in 1977, it intervened in Lebanon between 1986 and 1993 and in Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1994, when it was dissolved and therefore left Périgueux.

During the years 1950 to 1970, the faubourg des Barris developed on the left bank of the Isle. The bridge of the same name connects the suburb and the city.

Following the 1939 evacuation of 80,000 Alsatians in the Dordogne and mainly in Périgueux for the Strasbourg residents, 20% remained in Périgord. From this, relationships are born; Périgueux and Strasbourg concluded a cooperation agreement in 2008, after deliberation by the municipal council of Périgueux. Located in the park, in front of the Bertran-de-Born high school, a stele marks the recognition of Strasbourg in Périgueux for the reception of refugees during the Second World War.