Bergerac is known the world over for its most famous son, Cyrano de Bergerac. Trouble is, he didn’t actually come from the town – nor is he thought even to have visited it.
Instead, Hercule-Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, to give his full name, was born near Paris, in 1619. The association with Bergerac is understood to have come from a small estate of that name near the capital, close to his birthplace.
He gained fame as a playwright – though, ironically, he is better known today as the subject of a play by another writer, Edmond Rostand, entitled Cyrano de Bergerac. The character was then immortalised in the early 1990s by actor Gérard Depardieu in a film of the same name.
The film centres on the fact that Cyrano de Bergerac had a large nose and believed that his ugliness denied him the love of a woman.
In reality, his nose is understood not to have been anywhere near as large as it is portrayed. He is also thought to have been gay, having enjoyed a relationship with fellow writer Charles Coypeau d’Assoucy for more than a decade.
None of the fiction surrounding Cyrano de Bergerac has prevented the town of Bergerac from honouring him as one of its own. The local authority has erected two statues of him over the years – the first in Place de la Myrpe, and the second in Place Pélissière.
Tourists flock to the city to have their photo taken with the statues – which explains why the council and the townsfolk are happy to turn a blind eye to Cyrano de Bergerac’s true Parisian origins.