Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bergerac

Most of us Americans have heard of Bergerac thanks to the fictional character with the big nose, Cyrano, created by Edmond Rostand in 1897. Indeed, the town adopted this fictional character as their own and erected a statue to him. I suppose civic statues of fictional characters are not uncommon in human culture, but it still seems a bit crass to me.

The banks of the sleepy Dordogne at Bergerac.

We only spent the night in Bergerac and walked around town a bit in the evening and the next morning. It's very charming, and was very quiet when we were there. It might have been the Toussaint holiday or even a Sunday, which would explain the lack of activity.

Restored buildings in central Bergerac show off their timber framing called colombages.

The center of town has been restored into a nice pedestrian district filled with colombages, those medieval buildings with large timber structures showing in their façades. The city is built on the right bank of the Dordogne river and is home to about 26,000 Bergeracois.

More ornate colombages.

After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we headed west again. We passed through a small town whose churchyard cemetery was decked out with chrysanthemums as is the custom on All Saints Day. Our morning's destination had another literary connection : the château of Michel de Montaigne, one of France's most influential Renaissance writers.

Chrysanthemums set out in memory of the dearly departed.

3 comments:

  1. There was an actual Cyrano de Bergerac. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrano_de_Bergerac
    What an incredible name ;)
    I remember being told about him in highschool when we studied parts of Rostand's play.

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  2. Interesting about the real Cyrano. French Wikipedia says: « Cyrano n'est pas gascon : le Bergerac dont il prend le nom d'une terre qu’aurait possédée sa famille, est situé dans la vallée de Chevreuse. » The Bergerac in his name is a village just south of Paris, not at all the town of Bergerac in the Dordogne.

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  3. Tout d'abord, merci, Walt, pour ces articles si intéressants grâce auxquels la Française que je suis continue à se cultiver sur son pays...

    Voici la célèbre tirade qu'on trouve également sur le site Wikipédia :

    "Une tirade célèbre de cette pièce est la Tirade des nez (acte 1, scène IV) où Cyrano de Bergerac se prête au jeu de l'autodérision pour montrer le manque d'esprit du vicomte de Valvert qui vient d'essayer de se moquer de son grand nez. Il décline sur divers tons, les boutades qu'on pourrait lui adresser. La plus connue de toutes est celle donnée sur le ton descriptif, exemple typique de gradation et d'hyperbole :

    « C'est un roc !… C'est un pic !… C'est un cap  !… Que dis-je, c'est un cap ?… C'est une péninsule ! »
    Note : voir la scène 4 de l'acte I pour la totalité de la fameuse Tirade des Nez."

    Bonne nuit ! Marie

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