Exeter’s fast start was ultimately in vain as Perpignan fought their way back to claim a 15-12 Amlin Challenge Cup win at the Stade Aime Giral.
Wales international James Hook kicked five penalties to Gareth Steenson's four for the Chiefs, as last season's Heineken Cup semi-finalists overturned an early 9-0 deficit.
The match marked Perpignan's return to the second tier of European action after nearly a decade in the Heineken Cup.
Fly-half Steenson put Exeter 6-0 up within 10 minutes thanks to two penalties after James Hanks was brought down in the air, before Perpignan strayed offside.
Perpignan then conceded another penalty for collapsing the scrum which the Chiefs fly-half slotted to extend the visitors' lead.
However, Exeter were penalised for crossing from the kick-off which allowed Hook, who was making his second start for the Top 14 outfit at fly-half, to put the first points on the board for the hosts.
Exeter re-established a nine-point lead when Perpignan conceded another penalty for pulling back at a line-out.
But Hook slotted two more penalties before the break when winger Matt Jess undid the good work of the Exeter scrum when he was penalised for holding on, before the Chiefs were pinged for straying offside.
Hook kicked another penalty in the 44th minute when Exeter were penalised at the scrum, before Chiefs flanker James Scaysbrook was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Henry Tuilagi.
Perpignan capitalised on their one-man advantage in the scrum as Exeter were penalised again, with Hook's penalty putting the home side into the lead for the first time in the match.
Steenson attempted a drop goal in a bid to level the scores but his effort floated wide of the right post and Hook's missed penalty three minutes from time was immaterial.