‘How long will it take us to find a statue of Cyrano in Bergerac?’ I ask as we drive into that French town.
Though there was once a real Cyrano de Bergerac who inspired Edmond Rostand’s classic play about the poet with panache and protruding proboscis, there’s no reason to think he ever visited the town in his lifetime.
That doesn’t stop Bergeracians cashing in on his reputation. We park in front of Boulangerie Cyrano, drink café in Café Cyrano, walk a block and find the man himself in front of Maison Cyrano.
It sets me thinking about other towns that have turned a fictional reference into tourist dollars.
Verona certainly does it with its ‘actual’ Juliet balcony, constructed in the 1930s, I believe.
The Musicians of Bremen never actually made it into town in the folktale, yet they’re well and truly there now.
Not far away, Hamelin is predictably swarming with rats, though the Pied Piper is supposed to have expelled them.
What others are there? I don’t mean birthplaces of writers, like Stratford upon Avon. I’m thinking of touristy places whose connection to a story is pure invention. Casablanca, maybe? Bethlehem (ducks for cover!)?? Suggestions?
Meanwhile, I recommend a visit to Bergerac, should you be passing through the Dordogne. It’s an attractive place in its own right, with or without its big-nosed hero.