Originating back in the 11th century when a castle was built on the site on the banks of the Dordogne river, the area quickly grew up around the castle and the town became a popular stop over for travellers, pilgrims and traders.
The area has always been a popular hub for wine production but later was also known for tobacco and earthernware. The appearance of the 'vine louse' was a turning point in the local economy. This vine disease from America, devastated the Bergerac vineyards in 1880, forcing the wine-makers to replant on better plots. The graft of a French vine stock to American roots impervious to the parasite re- launched the wine making activity.
The town's name at least is perhaps better known from the play and film 'Cyrano de Bergerac', where French favourite, actor Gerard Depardieu plays the main character Cyrano. The story goes that Cyrano de Bergerac, a soldier and poet, is in love with Roxanne, but due to his appearance he is afraid to admit it. When a cadet, Christian, enlists Cyrano's help to woo Roxanne by writing love letters for him, Roxanne quickly falls for Christian without knowing that she is actually falling for the words written by Cyrano. She marries Christian, and Cyrano continues to keep the other man's secret, even after tragedy strikes.
However, the actual Cyrano never lived in Bergerac!