Medieval Puy St Front District

Puy St Front district - Hotel de Saint-Astier
Hotel de Saint-Astier

Puy St Front developed around Saint-Front Basilica and its monastery.

The monks founded a market that soon attracted craftsmen, shopkeepers and farmers from the whole region.

A new and active market village, Puy St Front was born.

The old Roman Cité, Perigueux’ oldest district, merged with Puy St Front in 1240.

The two districts became a single town governed by a mayor and officially named Périgueux after the Petrocorii.

Puy St Front district is today a beautifully well restored and busy medieval area that boasts a wealth of medieval mansions; many are listed Historical Monuments.

Place de la Clautre and Hôtel de Saint-Astier in Rue du Calvaire

Place of Clautre, the cathedral square, is one of the oldest sites in the city.

Puy St Front district - Place Coderc
Place Coderc

A traditional market square, it also served for celebrations and public executions!

An elegant Renaissance mansion with an octagonal corbelled turret marks its corner with the Rue du Calvaire.

The lane took the prisoners to their execution on Place Clautre.

They walked by the Hôtel de Saint-Astier – Maison Ribette.

The early 14th century mansion’s coat-of-arms held by two angels still adorns its facade.

Maison des Dames de la Foi in Rue des Farges

The Rue des Farges is one of the oldest streets in Puy St Front district as it replaces an ancient Roman road.

The Maison des Dames de la Foi was founded in the Hôtel Arnaud de Laborie.

Puy St Front district - Maison des Dames de la Foi
Maison des Dames de la Foi

This mansion belonged to the Commander of the Order of the Knights Templar who built it in the late 12th – early 13th century.

It became the residence of the English Governor during the Hundred Years War.

An upper floor and a partition wall were added to the Romanesque mansion during the 16th century.

It eventually passed to the Laborie Family, who bequeathed it to the nuns in 1680.

The convent they founded was seized in 1792 during the French Revolution and divided into lodgings a few decades later.

The city of Périgueux bought the building in 1996.

The various investigations have since uncovered superb 13th and 14th centuries murals.

Puy St Front district - Hotel d'Abzac de Ladouze
Hotel d’Abzac de Ladouze

All that is left of the religious institution, however, is the small bell turret set in a corner of the roof.

Hôtel d’Abzac de Ladouze and Hôtel de Sallegourde in Rue Aubergerie

A wealthy merchant of Périgueux built the fortified Hôtel d’Abzac de Ladouze in a 15th century .

Its beautiful octagonal corbelled turret and spiral staircase are listed Historical Monuments.

The consul of Périgueux, Arnaud Seguy, built the Hôtel de Sallegourde around 1475.

The tower and spiral staircase and the other unusual turret built against the tower were listed Historical Monuments in 1931 .

This second turret indeed boasts a small spiral staircase that leads to a lookout post on a roof terrace.

Place Coderc

Place Coderc was Puy St Front second market square.

Puy St Front district - Maison des Consuls
Maison des Consuls

Its name comes from the Occitan Coderc (square or pasture) as it was the field where peasants sold their pigs.

The 12th century Maison des Consuls or  town hall stood on the western side of the square and its belfry served as a prison.

Les Halles, the current covered market replaced it in 1829.

The corbelled corner turret of Maison Lapeyre marks the corner of the square with the Rue Limogeanne.

Hôtel de Lestrade in Rue de la Sagesse

Puy St Front district - Hotel de Lestrade
Hotel de Lestrade

The Renaissance Hôtel de Lestrade or Maison La Joubertie at no1 was built between 1547 and 1559.

It boasts a square-shaped limestone staircase laid out around a central void.

This magnificent Renaissance staircase is listed.

The stairs are anchored into the wall while their other side is held by moulded arches and columns adorned with different carvings.

The mansion boasts another superb architectural feature, a Baroque vaulted boxed ceiling adorned with the monogram H and S.

These initials are of those of two powerful families of Périgord, the Hautefort and the Solminihac.

The Hôtel de Lestrade was slightly altered in the early 19th century in order to create an opening on the Rue des Chaines.

Maison du Pâtissier ou Maison Tenant on Place Saint-Louis

Puy St Front district - Maison Tenant
Maison Tenant

The Rue de la Sagesse links the Place Coderc to the Place Saint-Louis and the Maison du Pâtissier.

The 14th century fortified mansion is also known as Maison Tenant.

A sculpted shell, the emblem of the pilgrimage of Santiago of Compostela, crowns the superb Renaissance entrance door.

The almighty Talleyrand Family once owned it.

The pâtissier Tenant, who made fortune selling the renowned pâté de Périgueux, bought it in the 19th century.

Hôtel de Méredieu and Hôtel Estignard in Rue Limogeanne

The Rue Limogeanne once led to the medieval Porte Limogeanne and the road to Limoges.

Today pedestrian, it is bordered with many elegant Renaissance mansions.

The Hôtel de Méredieu (no. 12) dates from the 15th century.

A 17th century coat-of-arms tops its stunning Renaissance entrance door.

The Hôtel Estignard (no5) is one of the most impressive Renaissance buildings in Périgueux.

Puy St Front district - Hotel de Gamanson
Hotel de Gamanson

Hôtel de Gamanson and Hôtel de Crémoux in Rue de la Constitution

The Hôtel de Gamanson – Logis Saint-Front was built between the 12th and altered in the 16th century.

The U-shaped mansion is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Puy St Front and is a listed Historical Monument

Its courtyard boasts a 17th century well sheltered by an elegant dome.

The L-shape 15th century mansion boasts a corbelled turret with spiral staircase and mullioned windows.

It was the property of Borros Gamanson, who was the mayor of Périgueux in 1803.

The Hôtel de Crémoux (no3) was listed for its splendid arched doorway framed by two elegantly carved pinnacles.

Galerie Daumesnil

The Galerie Dausmenil is a series of tiny courtyards interconnected by a maze of picturesque alleys.

This area of Puy St Front was beautifully restored in order to showcase the many 15th, 16th and 17th centuries facades.

One of its entrances is located Rue de la Clarté next to the building where Yrieix Pierre Daumesnil was born.

Hôtel de Fayolle in Rue de l’Abreuvoir

The Cablanc Family built the Hôtel de Fayolle Hôtel Cablanc in the  early 17th century.

Puy St Front district - Hotel de Fayolle
Hotel de Fayolle

The gardens then stretched until the river Isle.

The mansion was erected above the Tour Barbecane, one of the defense towers of the rampart that encompassed Puy St Front.

In 1858 the Larigaudie Family sold the Tour Barbecane.

The tower was pulled down in 1864 in order to open the Boulevard Georges Saumande.

The Count Félix de Fayolle bought the mansion in 1891.

The 17th century portal on Rue de l’Abreuvoir was listed Historical Monument in 1970.

The city of Périgueux bought the lower part of the gardens in 1989 in order to landscape the small Square d’ Amberg.

Puy St Front – Maisons des Quais

The 15th, 16th and 17th centuries Hôtel de Salleton, Maison des Consuls and Hôtel Lambert overlook the river Isle, by the Pont des Barris.

Maison des Consuls

Despite its name, the Maison des Consuls never housed the Consulate – town hall, which always stood on Place Couderc.

Puy St Front district - Galerie Daumesnil
Galerie Daumesnil

It is also known as Maison Cayla, a name it took after its owners, a prominent local family of consuls.

The mansion boasts a magnificent Flamboyant Gothic facade adorned with mullioned windows.

Antic tiles and two Flamboyant dormer windows (one is adorned with a chimera) adorn its pointed roof.

A decorated walkway connects it to the Hôtel Salleton.

The Maison des Consuls was accessed by the riverside until the opening of the RN21- Boulevard Saumande.

The entrance is now located on Rue du Port Graule; the back courtyard leads to a beautiful hexagonal tower with a spiral staircase.

Hôtel de Salleton

A decorated walkway connects the Hôtel de Salleton to the Maison Cayla.

Puy St Front district - Renaissance house on Place de la Clautre
Renaissance house on Place de la Clautre

This terrace was once part of the rampart that once protected the village of Puy St Front and the old Tournepiche Bridge.

The Broliodie Family built the mansion in the 16th century.

Their descendants sold it to the Salleton in 1630, hence its name.

The Hôtel de Salleton was listed Historical Monument in 1938.

Hôtel Lambert

The 16th century Hôtel Lambert Maison des Colonnes owes its name to a prominent family of architects who owned it in the 17th century.

It was listed Historical Monument in 1889 for its Renaissance facade adorned with a gallery with balustrade laid out on two levels.

The lower level has been at street level since the opening of the N21.

Three beautiful mullioned dormer windows open the lateral facades; the rear facade, however, is more austere as it dates from the 14th century.

Eschif de Creyssac

The Eschif de Creyssac has many names: Vieux Moulin (old mill), Moulin du Chapître (chapter’s mill) and Moulin St-Front.

Puy St Front district - Eschiff de Cressac
Eschiff de Cressac

The Eschif is in fact a lookout that guarded the old Tournepiche Bridge during the Middle Ages.

However, it later served as a granary for the cathedral’s Chapter.

The Eschif was built in 1347 on the site of the Maison Creyschat, a house destroyed by floods in 1346.

The stunning timber-framed building stood on the top of a section of the rampart that was pulled down for the opening of the RN21 – Boulevard Saumande in 1860.

The Eschif is a true architectural masterpiece.

Both facades are indeed reinforced by a wooden structure that seems to be hanging in the air!

The Eschif de Creyssac was listed Historical Monument in 1929 under the name ‘Moulin Saint-Front’.

The city of Périgueux bought it in 1976 and renamed it in 1979.

Tour Mataguerre

The Tour Mataguerre is all that is left of the medieval rampart that once protected Puy St Front.

This rampart had 28 towers and 12 gates.

Puy St Front district - Tour Mataguerre
Tour Mataguerre

Mataguerre comes from the Occitan Matarto keep at bay and Guerra – war.

A local legend has it that the tower was named after an Englishman who was jailed there during the Hundred Years War.

The current tower dates from 15th century and  was erected directly on to the rock.

Its base is wider than its body, which is pierced with loopholes.

The tower served as a powder depot from 1622 to 1831.

Its pepper-pot roof though fell into ruins; it was eventually demolished and replaced with a machicolated parapet.

Its walkway boasts superb views of the city and its surroundings.

It’s open to the public and proposes a small exhibition of medieval weapons in the basement.

The Tour Mataguerre was listed Historical Monument in 1840.

A few more streets in Puy St Front

It is impossible to mention all the streets crisscrossing the medieval Puy St Front.

Puy St Front district - Renaissance doorway
Renaissance doorway

When strolling in the medieval district you’ll discover countless listed buildings and obsolete street names such as Rue de l’Abreuvoir (trough), rue du Port Graule (port) or rue du Plantier (ran through a vineyard).

Périgueux is a magnificent city that can be explored in a day.

I would also recommend the visit of the Musée du Périgord, which was set up in the former Couvent des Augustins along the Cours Tourny.

Its original purpose was to exhibit the many artifacts recovered from the antic Vesunna.

However, it soon displayed also all the archaeological findings coming from the many prehistoric sites in Périgord.

It has in fact become one of the leading museums of prehistory in France!

Department of Dordogne
Coordinates Puy St Front District: Lat 45.185081 – Long 0.721627

Related articles: Antic Vesunna-Périgueux and Puy St-Front Cathedral

Photos via Wikimedia Commons: Maison des Dames de la Foi  –  Hôtel de Lestrade

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