Written by MichaelJM on 14 May, 2006
So, like you, we’d heard of Cyrano de Bergerac, but in fairness I knew little about this Dordogne town. Other, of course, that they produced a little bit of wine! It required some investigation and so we pointed the car in the general direction of…Read More
So, like you, we’d heard of Cyrano de Bergerac, but in fairness I knew little about this Dordogne town. Other, of course, that they produced a little bit of wine! It required some investigation and so we pointed the car in the general direction of the town.
Bergerac is a greedy town and occupies both sides of the Dordogne, but in all honesty I would recommend that you spend your time in the northern sector. The town’s port is mainly used for pleasure trips and from here you can take a ride down the Dordogne on a replica of a traditional Dordogne vessel, where you’re sure to see a plethora of birds including kingfishers, cormorants and heron. This is basically a fairly laid back affair and on a glorious summer’s day it’s to be recommended.
There are a variety of museums in the town including the politically incorrect "musee du tabac" and the "Musee du vin". They both give fascinating insights into their chosen addiction and woven through the exhibits are some great stories and pictures of France’s history.
We "met" Cyrano de Bergerac in the Place de la Myrpe. This snooty statue epitomises the character by the writer Edmond Rostand and the thirty- year-old sculpture dominates the square is an unassuming manner. The stone and half-timbered cottages form a perfect backdrop to the static form, but of course these have been here for generations and they positively exude history. Talking of history Bergerac’s cloisters Are superb and in my view a must see. The galleried cloisters were built in the reign of Louis the XIII by a Franciscan order and it will of no surprise that within the design they ensured there was space for their "home produced wine". The vaulted cellars, on the south side of the cloisters are now an important venue for the committees that endorse the quality of wine. I guess the monks would be happy to know that the tradition continues!
Bergerac, a pleasant town to mooch around, has some really pretty and well-restored town squares many lined with shops and, of course, street cafés. We, by good fortune, had visited on a Wednesday—the day (alongside Saturday) of a huge market in the "halle" spilling over into the square next to the Notre Dame. We were virtually having to fight the crowds (a mix of locals and tourist) as we checked out the craft stalls and local produce. What a great atmosphere.
Notre Dame isn’t the most awe-inspiring cathedral that we’ve visited but there are two impressive oil paintings, depicting the shepherds and the wise men at the birth of Jesus, attributed to one of Leonardo de Vinci’s pupils. Just imagine having an apprentice with that talent!
Around the town, between the Church of St Jacques (great stained glass windows) and Notre Dame, there are some interesting 14th century town houses and more grand properties—an array of architecture and fascinating façades.