History & Culture in Perigueux
Built upon the site of the former Roman city, Civitas Petrocoriorum which flourished during the Roman occupation of Aquitaine in the first centuries AD, Périgueux is a compact but impressive city.
As Christianity through the region a monastery and a church were built on the hill (called le puy Saint Front) near by the Roman city. In the 12th and 13th centuries these old religious buildings were replaced by a Romanesque style basilica. The new church became not only a stop for the pilgrims on their route to Compostela but also the centre of a thriving town - called Ville du Puy-Saint-Front - that formed around.
In 1240 the Roman city and the Ville du Puy-Saint-Front united to form Périgueux. During the Hundred Years Wars (1337 to 1453 between the Kings of France and the Kings of England) Périgueux town was loyal to the French King while its Earl became an ally of the King of England. As a result he was stripped of his title and the county given to the Duke of Orleans, the brother of Charles VI the King of France.
On the Saint Front Hill is situated the Medieval Town with its many narrow streets, and of course the Saint Front Cathedral.
Amongst the more unusual stories of Périgueux is that of actress Simone Mareuil. The French actress who was best known for appearing in the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou (1929), was born in Périgueux in 1903. She was the second wife of actor Philippe Hersent. After World War II, she returned to her home town of Périgueux, where she fell into a deep depression and later committed suicide by self-immolation — dousing herself in gasoline and burning herself to death in a public square.
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Also see: History of Dordogne, France