The greater part of the district is occupied by a semicircle of heights (from 650 to 1000 ft. in height) stretching from Moulins-la-Marche on the northwest to Montmirail on the south; within the basin formed thereby the shape of which is defined by the Huisne, an affluent of the Sarthe, lie the chief towns of Mortagne-au-Perche, Nogent-le-Rotrou and Bellême.
Stock-raising and dairy-farming are flourishing in the Perche, which is famous for the production of a breed of large and powerful horses, called Percherons. Cider-apples and pears are grown throughout the district.
In the Middle Ages, the Count of the Perche (Comté du Perche) governed the region between Normandy and Maine, of which Corbon, Mortagne and Nogent-le-Rotrou were successively the capitals. It was held by an independent line of counts until 1226. Geoffroy V, comte du Perche, would have been a leader of the Fourth Crusade had he not died before the assembled forces could depart.
The county then became a possession of the crown, which removed part of it to create the county of Alençon. After 1325, both counties were generally held by a member or members of a cadet branch of the House of Valois. Upon the death without children of the last Duke of Alençon in 1525, the countship returned to the crown, and was granted only sporadically thereafter.