He started racing in 1977. In 1984 he turned professional as copilot of François Chatriot, and finished second in the French Rally Championship, championship that he would win in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
He changed to off-road rally racing in 1992, to the side of Pierre Lartigue, winning the Dakar Rally in 1994, 1995 and 1996. He also achieved multiple victories and podium finishes in many of the most important offroad races, including Rally of Tunisia, Atlas Rally, Baja Italy, Spanish Baja and Baja Portugal. From 1993 to 1996, he won the FIA Cross Country World Cup.
In 1997 and 1998 he switched again to rally, participating in the French Rally Championship with the driver Patrick Magaud.
He ended his career at the end of 1998, turning into team manager of the motorsport division of Citroën. Six years later, he returned in 2004, sharing cockpit with Guerlain Chicherit. In 2005, he signed for the Volkswagen Motorsport Team. Being Bruno Saby's codriver, he won the FIA Cross Country World Cup for 5th time in his career, including victories on Rally of Morocco and Rallye d'Orient, and a fifth place in the Dakar Rally. In 2007, riding with Carlos Sainz, he won again the Cross Country World Cup, after winning the Rally Transibérico and finishing second in the Rally of Morocco and the UAE Desert Challenge. They were 9th in the final classification of the Dakar Rally, after suffering a breakdown. In 2008, he won the Central Europe Rally. In the 2009 Dakar Rally, after leading the classification for several days, he and Sainz suffered an accident because of the lack of documentation in the roadbook. Périn broke his arm, and the team was forced to abandon the race.
In 2009, he was contracted by BMW as co-driver of Nani Roma in a BMW X3, winning the Baja Spain that year. In the 2010 Dakar Rally, they accomplished a great start, winning the first stage, but after two accidents, they had to abandon in third stage.
- "Volkswagen, Carlos Sainz & the Race Touareg win Central Europe Rally". 2008-04-26. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Eurosport, ed. (2009-01-15). "Dakar 2009 – Sainz 'blind' during Dakar crash". Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Team X-RAID GMBH Has Superb Dakar Start, 'Nani' Roma Fastest on Opening Stage". 2010-01-02. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- France 3, ed. (2010-01-05). "Km 92... La Poisse !" (in French). Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Michel Périn profile on X-Raid webpage". Retrieved 2010-02-07.